After graduating to headlining at the Whiskey A Go-Go, then the hottest rock club in Los Angeles, the Doors released their first single, “Break On Through (to the Other Side).” It got as high as No. 126, in early 1967, but “Light My Fire” shot to No. 1 just two months later, and the Doors were suddenly rock stars.
Manzarek not only supplied the signature opening riff of “Light My Fire,” he delivered the otherworldly tacked-piano sound that gives “People Are Strange” much of its eeriness, and the haunting, moody electric piano lines that fuel “L.A. Woman.”
Morrison’s death shook the three surviving band mates to the core. They recorded two albums without Morrison — “Other Voices” in 1971 and “Full Circle” the following year — but then called it quits.
Raymond Daniel Manczarek Jr. was born Feb. 12, 1939, in Chicago, and later simplified the spelling of his last name by dropping the “c.”
After the Doors wound down, he recorded in the 1970s with his own band, Nite City, and worked up a rock treatment of Carl Orff’s choral work “Carmina Burana.”
In the 1980s, Manzarek had a strong hand in the emergence of another quintessential Los Angeles band when he produced all four of the original studio albums for the punk quartet X.
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What drew him to throw in with the punk movement, which drew much of its energy and audience by rebelling against the classic rockers like the Doors who had preceded them?
“The punks were the next generation after the psychedelic era,” he said. “After the stoners came the punks, and it was great. I thought it would be bigger in the U.S. than it was, but it never really caught on like it did in England. The punk scene in California, though, was as exciting as what happened in the ‘60s.”