The Doors star Ray Manzarek has died following a secret battle with bile duct cancer. The keyboard player, who co-founded the band with Jim Morrison in 1965, passed away at a clinic in Germany, according to a post on the band's Facebook.com page. He was 74.
Bandmate Robby Krieger has released a statement which reads, "I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek.
"I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him."
Born Raymond Daniel Manczarek, Jr., in 1939, on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, the star was a young basketball prodigy who turned to music after quitting his high school team following a bust-up with his coach.
Manzarek graduated from DePaul University with a degree in economics and headed for California, where he studied in the Department of Cinematography at UCLA. He befriended film student Jim Morrison and the two decided to form a band, putting the budding poet's words to music. They founded The Doors with drummer John Densmore and guitarist Krieger.
Success snowballed for the band once Manzarek and his bandmates secured residencies at The London Fog and the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood and, after a brief spell at Columbia Records, the bandmates found a home at Elektra Records and became superstars.
Following Morrison's death in 1971, the remaining members of the group continued as a trio until finally disbanding in 1973, when Manzarek went solo, recording three cerebral albums, and also performed with Los Angeles punk band X, Iggy Pop, poet Michael McClure and others.
Krieger, Manzarek and Densmore reunited in 1978 for An American Prayer, in 1993 when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1997 in the studio to complete Morrison's Orange County Suite epic poem, and again in 2000 for VH1's Storytellers: A Celebration and on the tribute album Stoned Immaculate: The Music of the Doors.
Relations between the trio have been strained over the past decade after drummer Densmore took his former bandmates to court over their plans to sell The Doors songs to Cadillac for use in commercials. He also objected to Manzarek and Krieger touring under the name The Doors of the 21st Century. Densmore won both battles and Manzarek and Krieger were forced to tour as Riders on the Storm, taking their name from a The Doors hit.
In recent years the pair had been touring as Manzarek–Krieger, with Densmore refusing to take part in any Doors-related reunion.
Manzarek has published a memoir, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, and a study of his late frontman Morrison, The Poet in Exile. He is also a celebrated novelist thanks to the success of his Civil War ghost story Snake Moon.
The keyboard player is survived by his wife Dorothy, son Pablo, and three grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to standup2cancer.org in the rock legend's name.
Flowers were placed on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday (20May13). Meanwhile, all concerts at the Whisky a Go Go this week will be dedicated to Manzarek.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.