The perception of The Doors

With 2 of iconic group’s original members, Manzarek-Krieger Band represents continuing legacy of 60s rock legend.

Ray Manzarek, Bobby Krieger (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ray Manzarek, Bobby Krieger
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Whether you thought last year’s Tel Aviv performance of The Doors music by the Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger Band was an inspired blast from the past or simply a polished tribute band boasting some extra credibility by having two original members may have depended on your age.
If you were old enough to have been around when the famed Los Angeles band brought danger, sex and revolution to pop radio in the 1960s, led by the volcanic vocals and chiseled looks of Jim Morrison, then it’s likely that keyboardist Manzarek, guitarist Krieger, augmented by Morrison look- and sound-alike David Brock and a topnotch rhythm section of drummer Ty Dennis and bassist Phil Chen, turned back the clock with their faithful and spirited renditions of staples like “Light My Fire,” Touch Me,” “Love Me Two Times” and “Roadhouse Blues.”
“If you closed your eyes, it sounded like the band back in 1969,” said Alon Bendat, 55, a Jerusalem resident who attended last July’s sold-out show at Hangar 11. Although he was too young to have seen the band in its original incarnation, which came to an end when Morrison died of a heart attack in Paris in 1971 at age 27, he had grown up with their music on the radio and their message of anarchy and questioning authority in his face.
However, if you grew up in the era when every band and its sister – from Guns & Roses to NSync – have been saddled with decent to awful tribute groups, then the reaction may have been different.
The Jerusalem Post’s review of the show by relative youngster Elana Kirsh stated that “though Jim Morrison look-alike Dave Brock did a decent job as front man, there was no avoiding the fact that something or, more accurately, someone was missing. Coming off as something of a dark, aged cover band, the group may have fit in better at a crowded pub, especially when they invited the Israeli winner of a Jim Morrison impersonator competition to perform ‘Love Me Two Times’ on stage with the band.”
The Doors as a karaoke band? Jim Morrison may or not be rolling in his Paris grave where, in early July, the 41st anniversary of his death will be commemorated by pilgrims who regularly flock to the cemetery where he lies.
Another factor in how much Morrison’s absence mars the effect of the latter- day Doors revue is whether it was Morrison’s persona and vocals that grabbed the imagination or the inventive, almost jazz-like groove and interplay provided by organist Manzarek and guitarist Krieger, who were joined by drummer John Densmore, who allegedly will have nothing to do with the revamped group.
“As the keyboard player, I would think that the music might have had something to do with it [their success],” Manzarek told The Jerusalem Post before the group’s first visit to the country last year. “ I think that without songs like ‘Light My Fire, ‘Riders on the Storm’ and LA Woman,’ we wouldn’t be worshiping Jim the way we do.”
Whether you subscribe to the stance that the Manzarek-Krieger Band represents the continuing legacy of The Doors or that they’re no different than a Kiss cover band, it’s clear that people still care about the band and its music. Otherwise, the 73-year-old Manzarek and the 67-year-old Krieger wouldn’t be able to tour steadily around the world with their Doors revue.
Vocalist Brock’s uncanny similarities to Morrison notwithstanding, Manzarek’s argument that the music played as big a role in creating the magic of The Doors’ as did Morrison’s charismatic presence is the underlying theme behind the continued success of the Manzarek-Krieger Band, which began its current incarnation 10 years ago (giving them a longer track record than the original band).
“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.
And the joy continues. Despite some missed shows by Krieger later in that tour due to a kidney illness, the band is gearing up for another summer run that kicks off on Saturday night at Park Ra’anana, with ticket prices starting at NIS 199. The group will also hit venues in Russia, France, Italy and Poland before returning to the US for shows in the fall.
During their show Saturday night, if you close your eyes out there under the Ra’anana stars during a particularly soulful organ run by Manzarek or a scintillating solo by Krieger, you might even hear Jim Morrison chuckle in satisfaction from the other side of the sea.