Added Apr 2008
Raymond Daniel Manzarek is an American musician, singer, producer, movie director, writer, co-founder and keyboardist of The Doors from 1965 to 1973, and the Doors of the 21st century (renamed Riders on the Storm) since 2001.
Ray Manzarek attended and graduated from St. Rita High School in Chicago and majored in economics at DePaul University. In 1962-65, he studied in the Department of Cinematography at UCLA, where he met another film student named Jim Morrison. Forty days after finishing film school, thinking they had gone their separate ways, they met by chance. Morrison said he had written some songs, and Manzarek expressed an interest in hearing them, whereupon Morrison sang a rough version of "Moonlight Drive" and Manzarek said," That's it"!
In January 1966, The Doors became the house band at The London Fog. According to Manzarek, "Nobody ever came in the place...an occasional sailor or two on leave, a few drunks. All in all it was a very depressing experience, but it gave us time to really get the music together." The same day The Doors were fired from The London Fog, they were hired to be the house band of the Whisky a Go Go.
The Doors' first contract was with Columbia Records, in 1965. After a few months of inactivity, they learned they were on Columbia's drop list. At that point they asked to be released from their contract. After a few months of live gigs, Jac Holzman "rediscovered" the Doors and signed them to Elektra Records.
The Doors lacked a bassist, so Manzarek usually played the bass parts on a Fender Rhodes piano Bass. His signature sound is that of the Vox Continental organ, an instrument used by many other psychedelic rock bands of the era. He later used a Gibson G-101 Kalamazoo (which looks like a Farfisa) because the Italian Continental keys "sticked" and remained "down" without pushing it.
Manzarek occasionally sang for The Doors, including the live recordings of "Close To You," "Who Do You Love," and "Tightrope Ride." He also sang on the last two Doors albums, recorded after Morrison's death, Other Voices and Full Circle.
Manzarek recorded a rock adaptation of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with Philip Glass, produced Echo and the Bunnymen and Los Angeles band X, played with Iggy Pop and backed San Francisco poet Michael McClure's poetry readings. Ray also worked extensively with Hearts of Fire screenwriter and former SCR front man Scott Richardson on a series of spoken word and blues recordings entitled Tornado Souvenirs.
His memoir, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, was published in 1998. The Poet in Exile (2001) is a novel exploring the urban legend that Jim Morrison may have faked his death. Manzarek's second novel, Snake Moon, released in April 2006, is a Civil War ghost story.
After living many years in Beverly Hills, Manzarek now resides in Napa County, California with his wife Dorothy.
P 2008 Ray Manzarek & Chops Not Chaps Music Inc + C 2008 Friday Music, Inc.