Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ships Without Sails

Ray Manzarek

It takes more than one great musician to make a great band. But often, and sadly, the culture picks one face from the disparate talents that have somehow found one another and meshed. And then the band’s legend is forever seen through the prism of one personality.

I remember the day Jim Morrison, lead singer of “The Doors”, died. He was the third of a great Rock Trinity to pass within months of each other, following Jimi and Janis. And like the previous two it seemed a given that the band he had fronted would die with him.

But they didn’t. And although “The Doors” had been gravely wounded, they continued to make great music. Different music in many ways to be sure. But music that revealed just how much talent had resided just outside the spotlight that had been so narrowly focused on Jim.

Three months after Morrison’s death, “The Doors” released a new album, “Other Voices”, which sounded the way they had always sounded. But also Different. Renewed.

At the heart of that album and those that followed, was Ray Manzarek, who died yesterday at the age of 74. Manzarek provided both keyboards and Bass for the band, supplying the latter via the same keyboard and in the process creating the group’s signature feel.

Manzarek’s list of accomplishments after “The Doors” is long and impressive. But I remember him most from the first single released after Morrison’s death, when everyone insisted the band had been silenced.

Despite what we’re told, a lot of lives have second acts.

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