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The Doors star Ray Manzarek dead at 74

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May 20, 2013 | 6:18pm EDT

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.

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