By: Michael Sinodis
The Doors were one of the first bands that took me to another world. Sure, I was initially attracted to Jim Morrison’s wild child just like everybody else. Being a guitar player, I then moved on to Robby Krieger’s inventive electric flamenco style, and his insane feedback-driven guitar solos a la “When the Music’s Over.” But once I started to research the intricacies of The Doors, as I do with every band I really love, I realized that Ray Manzarek was the glue that held that band together. That tidal wave of sound that broke on the Pacific Coast would never have happened had Ray Manzarek not seen the potential in Jim Morrison. Jim never would have become the living Dionysus he intended to be without Ray’s encouragement. Hell, he may never have actually faced a crowd. Robby Krieger and John Densmore would never have bounced off each other as they did had it not been for Ray Manzarek playing lead keys on one hand, and the bass groove on the other. Try listening to any Doors tune, attempt to take Ray Manzarek out of the mix, and see what you’re left with. It’s likely still pretty good, but it’s not The Doors.
Ray Manzarek was more than a musician. He was a leader who actualized one of the most important bands in rock history, and he did it with style. He is one of the few rock stars to truly raise the intellectual bar by creating something very real and very pure. He will always be a shining example for musicians to look up to when it comes to recognizing and honing talent in others, keeping a band together despite some of the wildest circumstances imaginable, and perhaps most importantly, surviving Rock and Roll. I only hope that Ray left his body peacefully so that we can all hear him play on The Other Side.
Thanks for the music, Mr. Manzarek.