Ray Manzarek: The Doors Keyboardist Dies

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Ray Manzarek: The Doors Keyboardist Dies
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Ray Manzarek, a founding member of 1960s rock group The Doors, has died at the age of 74.

The keyboard player died in Rosenheim, Germany, with his family at his bedside following a battle with bile duct cancer.

He and singer Jim Morrison formed The Doors in 1965 after a chance meeting at Venice Beach in Los Angeles.

The Doors' original line-up, which also included drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robbie Krieger, was only together for a few years and made just six studio albums.

But the band retained a large and obsessive following long after Morrison's death, aged 27, in 1971 of a suspected heart attack.

They sold more than 100 million records, with songs such as Light My Fire and Riders On the Storm still considered "classic" rock favourites.

For admirers, the band symbolised the darker side of the Los Angeles lifestyle, what happened to the city after the sun went down and the Beach Boys fans headed home.

"The Doors' vibe has more to do with Charles Bukowski than it does with Farrah Fawcett," said John Doe of punk band X, a friend of Manzarek's for more than 30 years, referring to the poet and Charlie's Angels' star respectively.

"It has more to do with Raymond Chandler and Nathaniel West, and Sunset Boulevard the movie, than it does with Beach Blanket Bingo, right? ... It's a real dark place out in LA."

Next to Morrison, Manzarek was the most distinctive-looking band member, his glasses and wavy blond hair providing the clean living look as a contrast to Morrison's Dionysian glamour - his sensuous mouth and long, dark hair.

Musically, Manzarek's spidery organ on Light My Fire is one of the most instantly recognisable sounds in rock history.

Manzarek and Krieger continued to perform from 2002 with Ian Astbury replacing Morrison on vocals and Stewart Copeland, drummer in The Police, replacing Densmore on drums.

Densmore had refused to take part and joined up with Morrison's family to bring a lawsuit against Manzarek and Krieger's use of The Doors name.

"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," guitarist Krieger said in a statement.

"I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him."

Manzarek is survived by his wife, Dorothy, son and three grandchildren.

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