12 February 1939
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
20 May 2013 (aged 74)
Ray Manzarek (born Raymond Daniel Manczarek, Jr. on February 12, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois, United States; died May 20, 2013, in Rosenheim, Germany) was an American musician, singer, producer, film director, and author, best known as a founding member and keyboardist of The Doors from 1965 to 1973. He was a co-founding member of Nite City from 1977 to 1978, and of Manzarek-Krieger from 2001 to his death.
From 1962 to 1965, Manzarek studied in the Department of Cinematography at UCLA, where he met film student Jim Morrison. He met drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger at a Transcendental Meditation lecture. In January 1966, The Doors became the house band at The London Fog on the Sunset Strip in LA. Manzarek occasionally sang for The Doors, including the live recordings of "Close To You" and on the B-side of "Love Her Madly," "You Need Meat (Don't Go No Further)." He also sang on the last two Doors albums, recorded after Morrison's death, Other Voices and Full Circle. Additionally, he provided one of several guitar parts on the song "Been Down So Long."
Manzarek played in several groups after the Doors, including Nite City. Manzarek also recorded a rock adaptation of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with Philip Glass, produced Echo and the Bunnymen and Los Angeles band X, and played with Iggy Pop and backed San Francisco poet Michael McClure's poetry readings.
He is widely regarded as being one of the most influential keyboardists in rock and roll history from his tenure with The Doors, having changed the spectrum of ability a keyboardist is expected to have. This is largely due to the fact that since The Doors lacked a bassist Manzarek would often play those parts with his Fender Rhodes Piano Bass.
He is famous for playing the keyboard by not looking at the keys and shaking his head throughout songs.
His memoirs, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, was published in 1998. The Poet in Exile (2001) was followed by his second novel, Snake Moon, which was released by Nightshade Press in April 2006.
In Oliver Stone's biopic The Doors, Manzarek was played by Kyle MacLachlan. MacLachlan's performance was the only good thing Manzarek had to say about the Oliver Stone movie.
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