Ray Manzarek, the keyboard player and co-founder of The Doors, one of the most influential rock groups of the 1960s, has died after a protracted battle with cancer. He was 74.
Manzarek was surrounded by his wife Dorothy and brothers in hospital Rosenheim, Germany, when he passed away. He suffered from bile duct cancer, also known as adenocarcinoma, for several years.
Tributes poured in. Doors guitarist Robby 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."
The Doors split two years after their iconic frontman Jim Morrison died in July of 1971. Manzarek remained busy in the group's aftermath playing with artists including Iggy Pop and Echo and the Bunnymen.
More than 30 years after the death of Morrison, Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger attempted to resurrect the band forming a group, The Doors 21st Century, that toured globally. But the project was cut short in 2003 when the pair were found guilty of improperly invoking The Doors' name and images and were instructed to pay more than a £1.5m in compensation to the estate of Jim Morrison and drummer John Densmore.
At their height The Doors were one of the most famous alternative rock bands in the world with landmark psychedelic tracks including “Light My Fire”, “Riders on the Storm” and “The End” fronted by charisma and mystique of frontman Jim Morrison. The story of their successive rise to fame and the fate of Morrison, who died from a suspected heart attack in Paris in 1971, has since been immortalised in a 1988 film by Oliver Stone.
Manzarek grew up in Chicago and moved to LA in 1962 to study film at UCLA. It was there he first met Doors singer Jim Morrison, though it wasn’t until a chance encounter on Venice Beach three years later that the seeds of The Doors were planted. Morrison told Manzarek he had been working on some music. "And there it was!" Manzarek wrote in his 1998 biography, Light My Fire. "It dropped quite simply, quite innocently from his lips, but it changed our collective destinies."
Manzarek is survived by his wife, Dorothy, two brothers, a son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. According to the band's official Facebook page, his family has asked that in lieu of flowers, fans should make an in memoriam donation in Ray's name to Standup2cancer.org.