Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 21, 2013 at 9:23 am •  Published: May 21, 2013

Other Doors albums included "The Soft Parade," ''Waiting for the Sun" and their last record with Morrison, "L.A. Woman."

Manzarek briefly tried to hold the band together on the albums "Other Voices" and "Full Circle," neither of which had critical or commercial success. He played in other bands over the years, working with X and Iggy Pop among others. He also wrote a memoir, "Light My Fire," and a novel, "The Poet In Exile," in which he imagines receiving messages from a Morrison-like artist who had supposedly died.

He produced four albums for X, including another landmark album "Los Angeles," and played off and on with the band for three decades. Doe said Manzarek enjoyed his place in rock 'n' roll history.

"He enjoyed people's company greatly. He was always interested in what had been going on with you and he was an incredible teller of stories, a sort of raconteur of spiritualism and wild moments — 'weird scenes inside the gold mine,'" he said referencing a lyric from "The End."

"Ray loved to talk about and sort of mythologize, but it was all based in truth."

Born and raised in Chicago, Manzarek studied piano as a child and briefly considered a career in basketball. After graduating from DePaul University, he headed west to study film at UCLA. A few months after graduation, he and Morrison met in 1965 on Venice Beach in California. As Manzarek would often recall, Morrison read him some lyrics — Let's swim to the moon/Let's climb through the tide/Penetrate the evening that the/City sleeps to hide" — that became the start of "Moonlight Drive."

"I'd never heard lyrics to a rock song like that before," Manzarek told Billboard in 1967. "We talked a while before we decided to get a group together and make a million dollars."

By 1966, they had been joined by Krieger and Densmore and were a sensation live, especially during the theatrical, Oedipal epic, "The End." They were the house band at the famed Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles before being signed by Elektra Records and releasing a self-titled album in 1967, one of the most talked-about debuts in rock history.

"Well, to me, my God, for anybody who was there it means it was a fantastic time," Manzarek told The Republican in Massachusetts during an interview last year. "We thought we could actually change the world — to make it a more Christian, Islamic, Judaic, Buddhist, Hindu, loving world. We thought we could. The children of the '50s post-war generation were actually in love with life and had opened the doors of perception. And we were in love with being alive and wanted to spread that love around the planet and make peace, love and harmony prevail upon earth, while getting stoned, dancing madly and having as much sex as you could possibly have."

Manzarek is survived by his wife, Dorothy; his son Pablo and two brothers, Rick and James. Funeral arrangements are pending.