A hippie mensch

Ray Manzarak was an unrepentant hippie, in the best possible sense of the word.

May 21, 2013 16:18
1 minute read.
 Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger

Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger. (photo credit: Elana Kirsh)

Ray Manzarek was an unrepentant hippie, in the best possible sense of the word.

Still believing in love, peace and that music could change the world, his sunny idealism was expressed in conversation like a cross between a zealous TV evangelist, a thoughtful sociology professor and – in his 70s – still a besotted fan of rock & roll.

“You’re talking to a psychedelic guy,” he told me at the start of our hour-long phone conversation in 2011, ahead of his first visit to Israel. Along with Doors band mate Robby Krieger, Manzarek performed a sold-out, expertly played show of classic Doors music in Tel Aviv, returning the next year to repeat the event in Ra’anana.

“Gentlemen of a certain age, as Robby and I have become, we’re still here walking the planet, dancing and making the incredible music that we first did with The Doors. Life is joyous,” Manzarek said without a hint of irony or cynicsm. And it was impossible not to believe him.

In that short hour, Manzarek’s intelligence, his sense of mensch, and his exuberance about making music burst through like one of his Coltrane-spiced organ solos.

While it was Jim Morrison who received and continues to receive the credit for The Doors’ longevity, it was Manzarek’s trademark keyboards that provided the band’s enduring sound.

“As the keyboard player, one would think that the music might have had something to do with people still liking it,” said Manzarek with a chuckle. And now, playing “LA Woman” in the background, with that manic piano driving it along, it’s clear that music fans will be listening to Manzarek’s musical magic for a long time to come.

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