Ray Manzarek was a true believer in The Doors and the message the brought to the world. In part II of “Ray Manzarek: In Requiem” we look at Manzarek’s post Doors life.
After closing The Doors Manzarek sought other creative outlets. He hired Danny Sugerman, who had previously worked as gofer in The Doors office, as his manager. Sugerman was able to get Manzarek together with Iggy Pop, who had been influenced by a Doors performance to pursue rock ’n’ roll, to be the lead singer for his new group, Nite City. Pop at the time was a heroin addict and Manzarek decided he had already been in a band with a volatile personality and decided against pursuing a band with Pop and went on with the project himself. He also explored his interest in Egyptian mythology via music in the “Golden Scarab.” His solo album “The Whole Thing Started With Rock ‘n’ Roll” a title based on an off-hand comment Jim Morrison had made in concert “the whole thing started with rock ‘n’ roll and now it’s out of control” received critical acclaim but never found it’s audience.
At the end of the 70’s a Doors resurrection started to occur, brought on in part by Francis Ford Coppola’s use of “The End” in “Apocalypse Now,” Danny Sugerman’s persistence and ability to finally get Jerry Hopkins manuscript of “No One Here Get’s Out Alive” published (it’s been rumored that Manzarek lent a hand to rewriting some of the manuscript). Manzarek, spurred on by former Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, along with drummer John Densmore recorded music around poems recorded by Jim Morrison prior to his death, the resulting album “An American Prayer” has attained platinum status having sold over a million copies.
In the 1980’s The Doors resurrection and revival went into full flower with renewed fan interest Manzarek become the keeper of The Doors flame, history and mythology even finding his forte as ranconteur of those histories and explaining how The Doors created their songs. Manzarek didn’t stay rooted to the past, he discovered the band X and produced their breakthrough album “Los Angeles.”
The Doors had become a legendary band in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll and this status was acknowledged when Manzarek was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Doors in 1993. Not willing to sit on his laurels Manzarek pursued his creative endeavors. In 2000 making use of his UCLA film school degree he directed the feature film “Love Her Madly” about an art school love triangle and murder. Manzarek also diversified into literature writing the novel “The Poet in Exile” about a legendary rock star who fakes his death and heads off to a idyllic island retreat; this is of course based on the rumors that Jim Morrison had done exactly the same thing.
It was also at this time that controversy again swirled around Manzarek and The Doors. Manzarek and Robby Krieger, spurred on by a VH-1 Storytellers appearance and the tribute album “Stoned Immaculate” (both of which John Densmore participated in) decided they would like to tour again and formed a band they called The Doors of the 21st Century. John Densmore, took exception to the name The Doors being used so up front and voiced his discontent of the usage, the whole matter took the surviving members into court and caused a rift among the surviving members of The Doors almost until Manzarek’s dying day.
In recent years Manzarek and Krieger toured as the Manzarek-Krieger Band, playing for Doors fans world wide. He collaborated and toured with blues guitarist Roy Rogers in the Manzarek-Rogers Band and released the albums “Ballads Before the Rain,” “Translucent Blues,” and “Twisted Tales.” Manzarek also occasionally joined beat poet Michael McClure in projects (McClure did a cameo with Manzarek in “Love Her Madly”) such as the 2012 “Piano Poems: Live in San Francisco.” Manzarek also worked with the up and coming generation of musicians such as Skrillex, and TechN9ne.
Ray Manzarek died May 20, 2013 of bile duct cancer, he was survived by wife Dorothy, sons Pablo and Zia, and three grandchildren. Doors drummer reported that he called Manzarek upon learning of his illness and healed the rift that had developed between them. Densmore and Robby Krieger are now working to put together a tribute show to honor Manzarek that will hopefully be some time this summer.
Thank you Ray for believing and for 50 years of music and art.
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