"Jim, as just a spoken poet, was not that good. He needed the music behind him. He felt a security and a sense of abandon when the music existed around him." -- Ray Manzarek
Raymond Daniel Manzarek, Jr., better known as Ray Manzarek (born February 12, 1939), is an American musician, singer, producer, film director, writer, co-founder and keyboardist of The Doors from 1965 to 1973, and The Doors of the 21st Century (renamed Manzarek-Krieger) since 2001. He is the oldest former member of the Doors.
"Alan Ginsberg was fabulous. The man is so filled with energy. He's 65 years old and he's just loaded with energy and charm and wit and his mind is constantly racing.""Drugs shouldn't be used for recreation although they can be, but ultimately the point of psychedelics is to put you in touch with the powers of the universe.""I need three million dollars to make a low-budget, intellectual, artistic, exciting, erotic movie with a great soundtrack.""I think I'm a very poor piano player.""I thought we were gonna open up the world of poetry and music to all kinds of things, and yet, I can't really think of anyone who's done anything like it since.""I'm basically a cocktail jazz kind of pianist. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a very good keyboard player. People think I think I'm good. I think I'm a very poor piano player.""If there was no black man there would be no Rock'n'Roll. The beat, the rhythms of Africa are what created Rock'n'Roll and Jazz.""Jim wanted to be known as a poet, first and foremost.""Movies were very important. The art-form of the 20th century.""Rock 'n' roll is like a circus today.""The Doors movie is a pack of lies. It did not make money. You want to make money in America? Tell the truth.""The Doors were never that good as musicians.""The Doors were successful. It was Jim Morrison as the centre and the figure and the spokesman, the figurehead, but we were all into the same thing. That's why we were a band.""The only thing that ultimately matters is to eat an ice-cream cone, play a slide trombone, plant a small tree, good God, now you're free.""Through all of history mankind has ingested psychedelic substances. Those substances exist to put you in touch with spirits beyond yourself, with the creator, with the creative impulse of the planet.""We went on stage with the Jefferson Airplane, Jim started singing with Grace Slick and hugging her. Then he danced off the stage, went back into the dressing room and passed out cold."
Ray Manzarek is of Polish descent, born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, as were his parents. Growing up, he took private piano lessons from Bruno Michelotti and others. He originally wanted to play basketball, but he only wanted to play power forward or center. When he was sixteen his coach insisted either he play guard, or not at all, and he quit the team. Manzarek said later if it was not for that ultimatum, he might never have been in The Doors. He went to Everett Elementary School on S. Bell St. and attended St. Rita High School in Chicago.
In 1962—1965, he studied in the Department of Cinematography at UCLA, where he met film student's named Jim Morrisonsteve clewes. Forty days after finishing film school, thinking they had gone their separate ways, they met by chance on Venice Beach in California. Morrison said he had written some songs, and Manzarek expressed an interest in hearing them, whereupon Morrison sang a rough version of "Moonlight Drive." Manzarek liked the songs and co-founded the Doors with Morrison right there and then.
While a student at UCLA, Manzarek met drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger at a Transcendental Meditation lecture. Densmore says, "There wouldn't be any Doors without Maharishi."
In January 1966, The Doors became the house band at a club on the Sunset Strip called The London Fog. According to Manzarek, "Nobody ever came in the place...an occasional sailor or two on leave, a few drunks. All in all it was a very depressing experience, but it gave us time to really get the music together." The same day The Doors were fired from The London Fog, they were hired to be the house band of the Whisky a Go Go. Their first performance at the Whisky was with the group Them.
The Doors' first recording contract was with Columbia Records. After a few months of inactivity, they learned they were on Columbia's drop list. At that point, they asked to be released from their contract. After a few months of live gigs, Jac Holzman "rediscovered" the Doors and signed them to Elektra Records.
The Doors lacked a bassist, so Manzarek usually played the bass parts on a Fender Rhodes piano Bass. His signature sound is that of the Vox Continental organ, an instrument used by many other psychedelic rock bands of the era. He later used a Gibson G-101 Kalamazoo (which looks like a Farfisa) because the Italian Continental keys "sticked" and remained "down" without pushing it.
Manzarek occasionally sang for The Doors, with a voice more bluesy than rock, including the live recordings of "Close To You." He also sang on the last two Doors albums, recorded after Morrison's death, Other Voices and Full Circle.
Manzarek has been in several groups since the Doors, including Nite City. He recorded a rock adaptation of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with Philip Glass, produced and backed Echo & the Bunnymen and Los Angeles band X, played with Iggy Pop, backed San Francisco poet Michael McClure's poetry readings and he has done improvisational composition with poet Michael C. Ford. Ray also worked extensively with "Hearts of Fire" screenwriter and former SRC front man Scott Richardson on a series of spoken word and blues recordings entitled "Tornado Souvenirs".
His memoir, My Life with The Doors, was published in 1998. The Poet in Exile (2001) is a novel exploring the urban legend that Jim Morrison may have faked his death. Manzarek's second novel, Snake Moon, released in April 2006, is a Civil War ghost story.
In 2000, a collaboration poetry album titled: Freshly Dug was released with british Singer, Poet/Actor and pioneer Punk rocker Darryl Read. Read had previously worked with Ray on the Beat Existentialist album in 1994, and their latest poetical/musical collaboration was in 2007 with the album: Bleeding Paradise.
On August 4, 2007, Manzarek hosted a program on BBC Radio 2 about the 40th anniversary of the recording of "Light My Fire" and the group's musical and spiritual influences.
In April 2009, Manzarek and Robby Krieger appeared as special guests for Daryl Hall's monthly concert webcast Live From Daryl's House. They performed several Doors tunes ("People Are Strange", "The Crystal Ship", "Roadhouse Blues" and "Break On Through") with Hall providing lead vocals.
After living many years in Hollywood, Manzarek now resides in Napa County, California in a house he remodeled extensively. He also plays with local bands in the Napa area.
In 2009, Manzarek collaborated with "Weird Al" Yankovic, playing keyboards on the single "Craigslist" which is a style parody of the Doors.
Manzarek was a co-producer on a few tracks for Universal Recording artist, Michael Barber. A track recently hit the internet titled, "Be Ok", on Michael's Universal Records Debut.
He is currently (May 2010) recording with slide guitarist Roy Rogers in Studio D in Sausalito, recording a new project. The release is scheduled for the fall.
His birth name was Raymond Daniel Manczarek. The c was dropped in 1966 when he, Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore signed with Elektra as The Doors.
Ray wore (and still wears) glasses that are typical of the 1960s.
In Oliver Stone's biopic The Doors, Manzarek was played by Kyle MacLachlan. Ray has gone on record as saying he enjoyed the performance although he despised the movie, calling it "insidious" in his book.
The first Doors album included a cover of "Alabama Song," from a 1930s German opera called The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. This cover resulted from Manzarek's playing a record of that opera, sung by Lotte Lenya, to Jim Morrison, and suggesting that The Doors do a rock version of the song.
The solos in "Light My Fire" are based on John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things." Other examples: a Thelonious Monk line from "Straight, No Chaser" appears in "We Could Be So Good Together", the opening organ passage of "When The Music's Over" is inspired by Herbie Hancock's "Canteloupe Island," and finally the organ solo in "Take It As It Comes" is inspired by Bach. During a May 2006 public performance, Manzarek named Erik Satie as an influence.
He is known for playing the keyboard while shaking his head and not looking at the keys.
In a televised interview, Manzarek advised listeners to "open the doors of consciousness... but stay away from white powder!"
He played the keyboard in Weird Al Yankovic's 2009 song Craigslist, which parodies the Doors in several different songs.
He played "some Psychedelic Guy from the Sixties" in Body or Brain's music video Be What You Can Be