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Ray Manzarek in 2012
© Invision/AP -- Ray Manzarek in 2012
Publicist: Ray Manzarek, founding member of the Doors, dies at 74

AP -- Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist and founding member of the Doors who had a dramatic impact on rock 'n' roll, has died. He was 74.

Manzarek died Monday in Rosenheim, Germany, surrounded by his family, said publicist Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald. Robinson-Fitzgerald said his manager, Tom Vitorino, confirmed 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.

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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.

The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 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 flavor 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 symbolize the decadence of Los Angeles as the counterculture grew in the U.S.

Morrison and Manzarek met at UCLA film school and ran into each other a few months after graduation, Manzarek recounted in a 1967 interview with Billboard.

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 band would make far more than that. The Doors, which also included guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore, has sold more than 100 million albums. Their music has been featured prominently in movies and holds an oft-debated place in rock history.

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

May 21, 2013 7:20PM
Also had a lot to do with the Early success of L.A's best band  ever , ,,, 'X'
May 21, 2013 5:20PM

R.I.P. Ray, he kept the Doors from falling apart when Jim couldn't get his **** on stage to perform, he was the main drive behind them also. He also kept the mystique of Jim alive after many years of Jim's passing...............Ray will be missed.

May 21, 2013 5:02PM
If it had not been for Ray, there would have been no Doors. Jim may have been the heart and soul of the band, but Ray was the brains behind the band and the glue that held it together...
May 21, 2013 11:54AM

The Doors were one of my favorite bands! It was a really big deal to "flip the bird" to the PC censors back in the day and piss off Mr. "Bubble Machine"!

Now Ray is hanging out with Jim and that half naked Indian dude!! LOL!!

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