R.I.P. Ray Manzarek

We can argue about the musical and cultural value of the Doors, but it would be straight-up inaccurate to classify them as anything less than one of America’s truly legendary rock groups. And I think it’s fair to say, too, that Ray Manzarek was as essential to the Doors’ success as Jim Morrison, maybe more so. Manzarek more or less discovered Morrison, and encouraged him to sing, and Manzarek’s keyboard was absolutely as central to the Doors’ sound as Morrison’s vocals (the Doors never employed a bass player, because Manzarek played those parts on his Fender Rhodes piano). When you’re thinking of a Doors song — any Doors song — I’d be willing to bet you’re just as likely to call to mind the keyboard part as you are the vocal. Of course Morrison died in 1971, at age 27. Manzarek continued to make music in the decades following his bandmate’s passing, most recently releasing a solo album, Translucent Blues, in 2011. Today, Manzarek passed away in a hospital in Germany, of complications related to bile duct cancer. He was 74. RIP.