Ray Manzarek, founding member and keyboardist of the iconic ’60s rock band The Doors, has died in Germany after a long battle with bile-duct cancer. He was 74. The Doors’ official Facebook page confirmed the news.
Manzarek wasn’t the best-known member of the band. That would be frontman and singer Jim Morrison, who died mysteriously in 1971 of what appeared to be a drug overdose. But Manzarek’s virtuoso keyboard skills were essential in creating the sound of The Doors, especially that slithering electric harpsichord riff that provides the backbone to their most famous song “Light My Fire.” He also contributed to “Break On Through to the Other Side,” “Hello, I Love You,” “L.A. Woman,” and “The End,” which opens Apocalypse Now.
Doors guitarist Robby Krieger released a statement today in which he said, “I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today. 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.”
Manzarek is survived by his wife, Dorothy, son, Pablo, and three grandchildren. Music fans, though, will always appreciate his contribution to the sound of the ’60s, including this famous performance of “Light My Fire” on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1967 that got The Doors banned for their use of the word “higher.”