Friday, May 24, 2013

Farewell to Another Legend

On May 20th, we lost one of the greatest rock keyboardists of all time, Ray Manzarek, who passed away at the age of 74 due to cancer. As a founding member and rock organist with The Doors, Manzarek contributed greatly to one of the most influential and revolutionary groups of the 1960s. Manzarek initially met poet Jim Morrison in film school at UCLA, and after running into each other again after graduation, they almost immediately formed The Doors. The group lacked a bass player, so Manzarek usually covered the bass parts on keyboard. His signature sound is that of the Vox Continental combo organ, an instrument used by many other psychedelic rock groups of that era. As a classically-trained pianist, he was instrumental in expanding upon songs of the The Doors, creating distinctive organ intros like that in "Light My Fire" (inspired by Bach's Two and Three-Part Invensions).

From their debut album in 1967, this #1 hit has been featured before during our Psychedelic Rock Week (here), but we're posting it again because it's just that good. While the single version was edited down to just under 3 minutes with nearly all the instrumental break removed for radio airplay, this live performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 1968 includes the album's 7-minute version. No mistaking that opening sound of Manzarek on his rock organ.

Carrying over their psychedelic rock and blues rock sound into the 1970s, "Love Her Madly" reached #11 on the Billboard chart in 1971, and features Manzarek playing both tack piano and his signature Continental Vox in the recording. Not an actual live performance but nicely done audio and video compilation.

Rest in peace, Ray!

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