Thoughts about Ray…

Ray Manzarek: Xs Exene Cervenka, John Doe remember a friend –

I unabashedly love the Doors. Always have. I never connected to most of the music that came out of the Summer of Love. But the first time I heard the Doors I heard something I connected with. I think, even at a young age, I knew that the grit and mystery in their music represented the world a lot more accurately than the music of their peers did.

My Doors fandom is, honestly, what led me to engage with punk and metal later on. The first of the UK punk bands I got into was The Stranglers, who were unabashedly and obviously picking up where the Doors had left off. There was a much, much more direct relationship though between X and the Doors, since Ray Manzarek was directly involved in the creative process that brought us the first four X albums, Los Angeles, Wild Gift, Under The Big Black Sun and More Fun In The New World, sitting in the producer’s chair for all four records.

Sitting here in 2013, in a world where punk rock is much more mainstream and accepted than it was in the late 1970s, it probably seems strange to a lot of people that Ray Manzarek, musical leader of a pre-eminent 60s group, would be involved with (pause for dramatic effect) a “punk” band. But what I don’t think people realize is the gap between the world of late 60s rock and punk rock are musical cultures separated by about three or four actual years.

To put this into perspective, these days major artists, like U2 or Green Day, make a new record about once every four years. Until the late 1980s it was much more common for an artist to make a new record every year, so even though the Doors had been dormant since 1973 (Krieger, Densmore and Manzarek kept working together as the Doors for a couple of years after Jim Morrison’s death – and even considered replacing him, with the most well-known candidate for the job being Iggy Pop), Ray Manzarek was still active in the LA music scene at the point when he connected with X. Musically, X certainly had much more in common with the Doors than they did with the biggest hit bands of the mid-70s (ELP, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac).

Personally, I’m so glad the silos that music has been cordoned off into in the past 25 years or so didn’t exist in the mid-70s. If you read the linked article it’s obvious that Ray’s experience was crucial to X getting it right with their first four LPs. He fit in with them well, and his presence in the room made their music better.

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