I’m a day behind on Blogging Everyday in May. Yesterday’s topic was to write about something in the news, so I’m doing that today.
The first piece of news I read this morning as I checked my phone (isn’t it awful that’s the first thing I do?) was that Ray Manzarek, keyboard player and founding member of The Doors had passed away aged 74. It isn’t the most important or impactful piece of news I’ve heard all day, but the music this man created (along with Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger and John Densmore) shaped a big part of my formative years, so I thought it was worth a mention.
I’ve been in to ‘old’ music for a long time, mainly thanks to my parents’ impressive collection of vinyl from the 60s onwards. But The Doors were one band that I ‘discovered’ for myself when I was around 16 years old – just before I also found the internet and all the musical possibilities that held. I bought the album Strange Days from a record shop because if its circus ‘freak’ cover and never looked back. There was something about the odd bluesy, honky tonk keyboard melodies and, of course, the dark, poetic vocals of Jim Morrison that was so different to anything I’d ever heard before. I was in love.
It is easy when thinking of The Doors to focus on the obvious hits (Light My Fire, anyone?) and their troubled, tragic frontman. But Ray Manzarek was responsible for so many of the defining components in their songs. He was a true musician who played not only keyboard but guitar, bass and percussion. I always thought it was the coolest thing that they ditched the idea of a bass guitarist in favour of him playing a second bass keyboard with his left hand while he played melodies with his right. He was influenced by classical music and jazz, and it created a type of rock music that was incredibly unique and influential.
If you ever get a chance to, watch the documentary When You’re Strange, which tells the story of the band through archive footage. It’s fascinating (and also narrated by Johnny Depp if you needed another reason).