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Doors keyboardist Manzarek dies of cancer aged 74


Ray Manzarek (R) and guitarist Robby Krieger.

Ray Manzarek (R) and guitarist Robby Krieger.

The Doors, with Ray Manzarek second from right

The Doors, with Ray Manzarek second from right


Ray Manzarek (R) and guitarist Robby Krieger.

Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist and founding member of 1960s rockers The Doors, has died at 74 after a battle with cancer.

Manzarek died in Rosenheim, Germany, surrounded by his family. His manager said Manzarek died after being stricken by bile duct cancer.

Manzarek founded The Doors after meeting then-poet Jim Morrison in California. The band went on to become one of the most successful rock 'n' roll acts to emerge from the 1960s and continues to resonate with fans decades after Morrison's death in 1971.

Manzarek continued to remain active in music. He briefly tried to hold the band together by serving as vocalist, but eventually the group fell apart. He played in other bands over the years, produced other acts, became an author and worked on films.

Manzarek is among the most notable keyboard players in rock history, playing it as a lead instrument at a time when the guitar often dominated. The sound added a distinct end-times flavour to Morrison's often out-there persona. The group is best known for hits like Break On Through To The Other Side, The End and Light My Fire and came to symbolise the decadence of Los Angeles as the counter-culture grew in the US.

Morrison and Manzarek met at UCLA and ran into each other a few months after graduation.

Outwardly, the two seemed very different. The strikingly tall, dark and handsome Morrison looked the part of rock star, while Manzarek, with glasses, retained a more professorial look.

But they were kindred spirits, as Manzarek discovered when Morrison read him the lyrics for a song called Moonlight Drive.

"I'd never heard lyrics to a rock song like that before," Manzarek said. "We talked a while before we decided to get a group together and make a million dollars." The Doors, which also included guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore, has sold more than 100 million albums.

Manzarek is survived by his wife Dorothy, his son Pablo and two brothers, Rick and James.