Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rant #967: "The Doors" Is Closed

I just heard that Ray Manzarek, a founding member of the Doors, one of the classic rock bands of the 1960s, passed away. He was 74 years old and reportedly died of bile duct cancer.

It is his cascading keyboards that you hear on many Doors hits, including the seminal "Light My Fire," one of the greatest single records of that era.

The Doors were a different type of band than most of the acts that became popular during the 1960s.

Most of the bands that reached a high level were happy, poppy and their dark sides really didn't come out in their recordings.

The Doors wore their dark side firmly planted on their sleeves.

Led by Jim Morrison, the group--including guitarist Robby Krieger, who was the main songwriter, and drummer John Densmore--kind of sat on the fence between teenybop band and hard rock band during their existence.

With Morrison as lead singer out front, they fit right into the 16 Magazine paradigm. He was a good looking guy, with his sensuous look and long-flowing hair perfect to be slotted right alongside Davy Jones as a star for young girls.

But through their music and their actions, the Doors were much more than a teenybop band.

Although he was a good looking guy, Morrison's voice was not a classic teen idol warble. His voice was deeper, and had many dimensions to it.

He could do bubblegum, as in a song like "Hello I Love You," but he could be dark too, such as in "Riders on the Storm."

And it was all backed by Manzarek's crack keyboard work. His organ playing was really the backbone of that band.

When Morrison's drinking episodes and other nonsense caught up with him, and he passed away himself, the Doors kept on as a threesome, put out two albums, and it simply didn't work.

They broke up, but certainly not for good.

Manzarek had a solo career, put out a number of albums, but he, and the others, were so firmly linked to the Doors that public demand, and probably the lure of cash, got the Doors name out there on many occasions as a regrouped act, such as the New Doors of a few years back.

The Doors name also constantly was found on new albums, new greatest hits recordings, new live albums, even taking some of Morrison's poetic vocals and putting them to music.

Manzarek, much like Rod Argent did with the Zombies, took rock keyboarding to another level.

In these acts, that instrument was the real backbone of the recordings, not just another instrument in the mix.

I was a big Doors fan, although I don't put them into another dimension from other bands of the time.

They were different, with that dark side that they had, but they had that pop sensibility that was found on their singles. They were really able to show their "other" side on their albums, and their reputation has grown, seemingly every year since Morrison's death.

They are like the Marilyn Monroe of rock and roll; died so young, Morrison is sort of frozen in time.

Although Manzarek was in the background, his use of keyboards helped solidify Morrison's stature for the ages.

Manzarek will definitely be missed.

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