Ray Manzarek, founding keyboardist of The Doors, died Monday at age 74 at a medical clinic in Rosenheim, Germany, after a long battle with bile-duct cancer. At his side was his wife of 45 years, Dorothy, as well as his brothers Rick and James Manczarek.
In a statement, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said, in part, "Ray Manzarek of the Doors was a gifted keyboardist and a founding member of one of the most influential and enduring groups of the ‘60s. He and his bandmates helped shape the sound of rock music, and...have cemented their place in music history as one of the preeminent and original bands of our time. Our industry has lost a legendary and passionate musician."
Ray co-founded The Doors in Venice Beach, California, in 1965 with singer and fellow UCLA film student Jim Morrison, along with guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. Driven by Morrison's charismatic stage presence, powerful voice and poetic lyrics, as well as Manzarek's hypnotic, jazzy keyboards, the band soon shot to stardom on the strength of such classic hits as the chart-topping "Light My Fire" and "Hello I Love You." The group continued to release popular albums and singles until Morrison's death from heart failure at age 27 in July 1971. On the strength of The Doors' enduring body of work, the band has gone on to influence and inspire countless other artists, while selling more than 100 million albums worldwide.
After The Doors broke up in 1973, Manzarek continued his music career, releasing a number of solo albums and collaborative albums. From 2001 until his death, Manzarek performed Doors music in a popular touring group with Krieger that most recently was called the Manzarek-Krieger Band. Manzarek also has recorded albums with blues guitarist Roy Rogers and poet Michael McClure, has produced music by such bands as Echo and the Bunnymen and X, and has written a memoir and two novels.
Commenting on Manzarek's death, Krieger said in a statement, "I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today. 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."
Besides his wife and brothers, Manzarek is survived by a son, Pablo Manzarek, as well as three grandchildren -- Noah, Apollo and Camille. No official funeral plans have been confirmed. The family is suggesting that rather than sending flowers, fans can make a donation in honor of Ray to StandUp2Cancer.org.
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