Jim Morrison may have been the voice, but Ray Manzarek was the sound.
The Doors' keyboardist succumbed to cancer yesterday, May 20th, at the age of 74. He, of course, is the mastermind behind the omnipresent licks that drove "Break On Through (To the Other Side)," "Light My Fire," "Five To One," "Riders on the Storm" and I could go on and on. It's actually absurd the overabundance of well-known music that The Doors had churned out between 1965 and 1973, much of it brilliantly conceived and driven by Manzarek's melodies. Lest I use the occasion of his unfortunate passing to assassinate the character of Morrison, I'll just say that, for me, I've always considered the The Doors to be Manzarek's band. While I can't argue that Morrison redefined the role of frontman and remains a lasting and influential presence in rock n' roll history, Manzarek shaped the band's tone and certainly their identity during the time of 60s political unrest and drug culture, making The Doors musically distinguished and perfectly evocative of the era. The "Wild Child," lizard-drinking king had some swagger, but the seriousness with which one could take The Doors' music was aided by its execution.
In addition, Manzarek produced three of the best albums to emerge from L.A. area punk greats, X, performing a very memorable section of the song, "The World's A Mess (It's in My Kiss)" from their excellent debut, Los Angeles. That being said, this is a loss that spans generations.
R.I.P., Ray Manzarek.
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