By Kathleen Burke
After a difficult and lengthy fight with bile duct cancer, Ray Manzerek, founding member and keyboard player for The Doors has died. According to a statement released by his publicist he passed away at a clinic in Germany. Manzerek was 74.
In 2011 I saw Manzerek, along with Robby Krieger, original guitarist for The Doors, perform at Boston’s Wilbur Theater. Unsure of what to expect, I held cautious optimism for the night. One never knows how reunion shows will turn out, especially when the lead singer has been deceased for decades. After the first verse of the first song, it was clear that the expert chops and performance skills of Manzerek and Kreiger were intact and thriving.
Manzerek in particular was stunning. As a bandleader, he seemed omniscient. He grinned throughout the show as if in on a joke no one else in the theater was getting. Yes, his quips about LSD and psychedelics pandered to the crowd full of aging hippies, teenage stoners, and men in business suits (presumably with comp’d tickets). But his ironic self-consciousness eliminated the potential for any cheesy moments and gave the audience permission to pretend, just for a moment, that it was LA in 1969 and despite age, class, or occupation, we were all peeking through Ray’s doors of perception and living just for a few hours in his world.
Ray Manzerek is survived by his wife Dorothy, son Pablo, three grandchildren, and his brothers James and Rick. In leiu of flowers, donations can be made in his name here.