Last year, Doors' keyboardist Ray Manzarek recounted his years with the Doors and
their charismatic front man, the late Jim Morrison, in his acclaimed memoir, "Light My
Fire: My Life With the Doors" (Putnam).
Manzarek and the other surviving Doors, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore, now are
working with Elektra Records to compile The Doors Complete, a collection of the
band's six studio LPs, and organize a number of unreleased Doors live recordings they
hope to issue soon. The label and the Doors were encouraged by the heavy interest in
the 1997 Doors Box Set.
Manzarek was born 64 years ago in Chicago. He studied classical piano while growing
up and, before teaming with Morrison in 1965, played in Rick and the Ravens, a blues
group. Manzarek met Morrison when they were students at the UCLA Graduate School
of Film. The two talked about forming a band grounded in Manzarek's keyboard-based
musical ideas and Morrison's poetry.
At first, Manzarek's brothers, Rick and Jim, played guitar in the band. But Manzarek
replaced them with Krieger, who was brought to the fold by Densmore. Morrison named
the band the Doors after Aldous Huxley's book about mescaline, "The Doors of
After recording a demo tape, the Doors became the house band at Los Angeles' famed
Whisky-A-Go-Go, but were fired for the explicit lyrics in the recitative section of the song
"The End." The Doors signed with Elektra and issued their eponymous debut in 1967. An
edited version of the extended track "Light My Fire" hit #1. The LP also included such
cuts as "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" and
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Morrison's dark lyrical imagery added a menacing edge on the Doors' next two albums,
Strange Days (1967) and Waiting for the Sun (1968), which yielded such
hits as "Love Me Two Times" (on the first) and "Hello I Love You" (on the second).
But Morrison's obsession with his self-established "Lizard King" persona began to turn
off most critics and some fans. The Soft Parade (1969) received mixed reviews
and followed various arrests for Morrison's often obscene and disorderly conduct.
Morrison Hotel (1970) and L.A. Woman (1971) were better received; the
latter spawned hits in "Riders on the Storm" and the title cut. But soon after its release,
Morrison retreated to Paris, where he died of heart failure in his bathtub.
Morrison has reached mythical status, and the Doors' music has lived on. Succeeding
generations have been fascinated with the group's psychedelic sound and Morrison's
messianic lyrics and image. Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone filmed "The
Doors," which spawned a strong-selling soundtrack, in 1991.
Post-Morrison, Manzarek and the other Doors issued a few unsuccessful LPs (1971's
Other Voices and 1972's Full Circle). They spent the ensuing years largely
out of the limelight, occasionally issuing Doors-related projects, such as 1978's An
American Prayer, on which they set Morrison poetry to their new music. For the '97
box set, the surviving Doors set a Morrison spoken-word piece to their instrumentation
on "Orange County Suite."
Manzarek issued a few solo albums, including 1975's The Whole Thing Started with
Rock & Roll Now It's Out of Control. His 1998 book heightened his individual profile
This year, Elektra is planning a Doors tribute album by various artists. Some cuts already
are completed, including Chrissie Hynde's "Touch Me," which includes Curtis Amy
reprising the sax part he played on the original.
Other birthdays: Gene McDaniels, 64; Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis), 49; Michael
McDonald, 47; Chynna Phillips, 31; and Jim Creeggan (Barenaked Ladies), 29.