It’s not often that I am affected by the death of a celebrity. Perhaps its the fact that I seldom idolize the famous actors and writers and musicians because I know they are flawed creatures just like myself that rarely live up to the idealized notion of who they present themselves to be to society. Sure, I wouldn’t mind a conversation with Clive Barker or Richard Matheson, but I wouldn’t prostrate myself before them.
Yet today I came home and learned that Ray Manzarek of the band The Doors died today. I’ll admit I felt a surge of sorrow upon learning this, because while I was a teenager The Doors was my favorite band. Not simply because of the spectacle of Jim Morrison’s antics or the mysticism of his poetry but because The Doors, and Ray in particular, managed to combine the raw ferocity of rock and roll with the gut wrenching force of the Blues along with dabbling in Eastern influences and psychedelic rock. Growing up in a remote rural area where music was limited to ‘Top 40’ hits on the FM radio, the Doors represented an escape from the banality of my adolescence. They represented a rebellion of sorts, casting off of the blue-collar norms. The capitalistic conformity of the 1980s I grew up in.
Throughout my teens and early twenties The Doors played the soundtrack to my life. If it weren’t for the poetry and lyrics of Morrison accompanied by the power and intricacies of Manzarek’s keyboard perhaps I wouldn’t have developed a passion for philosophy, spiritualism, and writing. The Doors served as a fuel line to my own creativity back then, and I continue to listen to them upon occasion. Ironically, last Friday night I listened to their last recorded concert.
I admire the fact that Ray continued to perform music with band mate Robbie Krieger during the past decade. To have that type of compassion for the music is admirable and I hope that I’m still that creative and passionate when I’m Ray’s age.