Ray Manzarek Dies came the unwelcome headlines Monday regarding the world-class keyboardist’s death. The rock-and-roll hall of famer and founding member of The Doors died on May 20 from complications stemming from a long battle with cancer, according to manager Tom Vitorino.
Manzarek, who served as keyboardist for The Doors and one of the group’s original members, was 74-years-old when he passed away at a clinic in Germany on Monday.
Ray Manzarek Dies: Doors Founder and Keyboardist, 74, Passes Away Overseas
Manzarek, who was born in Chicago, met Doors frontman and co-founder Jim Morrison when the two attended UCLA film school in the ’60s and later reconnected following graduation. The two soon formed the beginnings of a band, abandoning any serious dreams of film-making to put together one of the most iconic rock groups of all time.
The band would comprise Morrison, Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and John Densmore on drums, and would go on to sell over 100 million records over the next four decades based on a handful of (thoroughly epic) studio albums. Jim Morrison died in 1971 at the very height of the band’s popularity due to an alleged drug overdose, though no autopsy was performed; the lack of a proper post-mortem exam naturally led to decades of contentious debate and conspiracy theories.
Despite several half-hearted attempts at one-offs and reunions by various members of the band including Manzarek, The Doors would never again manage to produce what they had been capable of when Morrison was alive. Without Morrison providing the now-classic vocals and chaotic energy that made The Doors so unique, the music would never be the same. Manzarek went on to make music in other forms, however, working on jazz and even an electronica album. In his final years, he played with a band in the Napa Valley in California, where he had a home he remodeled and lived in with his wife, Dorothy Fujikawa. The two were married back on December 21, 1967.
There will be no debate or conspiracies surrounding how Ray Manzarek died; the keyboardist was suffering from bile duct cancer and passed away on May 20 at RoMed clinic in Rosenheim, Germany. Manzarek is said to have been “surrounded by family” at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife Dorothy, a son, several grandchildren and two brothers. Luckily for family, friends and for fans of his legendary band, Manzarek penned his memoir many years before his death, publishing “Light My Fire” in 1999. Rounding out his brief writing career, he also published a couple of fictional novels.
If you grew up listening to and loving The Doors, please leave a comment below to tell us how it felt to see headlines read Ray Manzarek Dies at 74 when the news broke this afternoon. How do you feel rock-and-roll has changed over the past several decades, and how do you think Manzarek’s death will further change the genre?