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KIM ROSS: When the music's over

May 24, 2013

An iconic keyboardist who made a large impact during the music movement of the ‘60s has passed away. Co-founder of The Doors, Ray Manzarek, died Monday at age 74, after a long battle with cancer.
Granted, the dark philosophical music by the quartet of Manzarek, lead singer Jim Morrison, guitarist Robbie Kreiger and drummer John Densmore may not be on the top 10 list of many of my readers, they are one of my favorite bands, topped only by Janis Joplin.
Manzarek and Morrison met in Los Angeles while attending UCLA as film students. Throwing the film industry to the wind, the two took a chance, employed Densmore and Kreiger to join their parade to the hall of fame. With their combined talents of poetry and music they embarked upon a journey of rock-n-roll insanity, writing their own chapter in the book of music history.
If you have ever watched The Doors live, then you understand there was never any predicting how Morrison would perform. Morrison is famous for singing in an almost euphorical and meditational state, widely known for opening his doors of perception with every drug known to man. Often times, Manzarek, beating the five-to-one odds of failure, had to roll with it, playing to Morrison’s version of the moment in an almost maniacal style. In several books and interviews, band members say the unknown of each performance is what made them great.
Songs such as “Love Me Two Times,” “Backdoor Man,” and “Moonlight Drive,” are just some of Morrison’s life-induced poetry that still plays on the airwaves today. While they are most famous possibly for “Light My Fire,” – their first musical hit, the lyrics were written by Densmore, only brought to life by Morrison.
Alas, the music of the Doors came to an end after a lengthy court battle in which Morrison was charged with public indecency during a performance in Miami, Fla. Unable to beat the rap, the band separated.
On July 3, 1971, Morrison was found dead in the bathtub in his apartment in France. Cause of death remains argumentable – some say drug overdose but from what doctors concluded, without an autopsy, death was caused by heart failure.
In 1993 The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group has several songs inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and hold their place forever with a commemorative star on the Hollwood Walk of Fame and are listed in the Rolling Stone top 500 songs of all time with two tunes making the list.
Recently Manzarek reunited the remaining Doors members in 2011 for their last Whiskey-A-Go-Go. The group remained together until Manzarek met with his beautiful friend, the end.
If I had to imagine what Morrison and Manzarek were doing after meeting again 42 years later, I would have to guess they are taking a moonlight drive as they break on through to the hyacinth house.

Kim Ross is editor of the Poteau Daily News. Write her at P.O. Box 1237, Poteau, OK 74953 or e-mail her at editor@poteaudailynews.com.

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