Ray Manzarek (1939-2013) Dead at 74


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When the music’s over,
Turn out the lights,

When the music is your special friend,
Dance on fires it intends,
Music is your only friend,
Until the end,

Cancel my subscription to The Resurrection,
Send my credentials to the House of Detention,
I got some friends inside,

The face in the mirror won’t stop,
The girl in the window won’t drop,

The feast of friends,
“Alive!” she cried,
Waitin’ for me outside!

Before I sink into the Big Sleep,
Want to hear,
I want to hear,
The scream of the butterfly,

Come back, Baby,
Back into my arms,

We’re gettin’ tired of hangin’ around,
Waitin’ around with our heads to the ground…

Ray Manzarek, the founding keyboardist for the legendary rock band, The Doors, passed away this morning in Germany, losing a long, painful battle with bile duct cancer.

Seamlessly fusing rock, blues, jazz, poetry and hints of early punk, the musical act formed as a band in Los Angeles, almost a half century ago. After a chance meeting between Manzarek and the mercurial and controversial frontman, Jim Morrison, in Venice Beach (in 1965), the two were soon joined by guitarist, Robby Krieger, and drummer, John Densmore. As a band, The Doors went on to become one of the most successful rock acts of the 1960s, selling more than 100 million albums worldwide. During their run, they received 19 Gold, 14 Platinum and five multi-Platinum albums in the United States alone.

Manzarek was memorably portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan in Oliver Stone‘s 1991 biopic, The Doors. It is a wholly underrated film which still holds up today.

I was just reflecting, last week, how I considered myself an unabashed Doors fan. Daydreaming, I thought to myself, “Riders on the Storm (the anthem track will always give me the goosebumps) would be on the soundtrack, when I made my LA-based noir film. Back Door Man and/or When the Music’s Over might have to be on that score, also.” L.A. Woman (though a great track) would be the obvious choice.

Hipsters don’t dig on The Doors. They’re not considered über cool, classic, chic or virtuoso. Well, I love The Doors. I grew up with The Doors. I own every damn album — even the forgotten, sometimes-panned, poetry/spoken word, passion project, An American Prayer. They’re a polarizing group. I think the fusion of various musical genres which made them so successful…might have, concurrently, turned off a minority. These few might have seen their oeuvre as pastiche. In my opinion, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. To me, their music was an impeccable cocktail. Put it simply, they fucking rocked. They jammed.

This one stings. It saddens me. As one friend put it, “(It is an) end of an era.” We never fail to become sentimental, nostalgic and reflective when these hallmark cultural agents who entertained us in our formative years, pass on in our lifetime.

My father turned 74 years, last Friday, coincidentally, the same age as Manzarek. They were both born in 1939. And now, pardon the pun, Ray has broken on through to the other side. Hopefully, Ray is somewhere jamming with Mr. Mojo Risin. Ray is laying down some keys while simultaneously jamming the keyboard bass as Jimbo howls. I’d like to think that…it’d be cool.

Ray Manzarek is survived by his wife Dorothy, son Pablo, and three grandchildren. We offer our condolences to his family, friends and fans. The rock ‘n’ roll hall-of-famer will be greatly missed.


There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison’s words. Ray, I felt totally in sync with you musically. It was like we were of one mind, holding down the foundation for Robby and Jim to float on top of. I will miss my musical brother. –John Densmore

Mandip Thapaliya is a versatile content editor and writer with a passion for crafting compelling stories that resonate with readers. With a background in digital media and a keen interest in celebrity culture, he brings a fresh perspective and creative flair to every piece he creates.


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