VIP Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek (February 12, 1939 - May 20, 2013)

Ray Manzarek was born in Chicago in 1939. He studied classical piano, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at DePaul University, and enrolled in UCLA’s law school but soon switched to cinematography. In December 1961 he enlisted in the army and was assigned to play piano in Okinawa and Thailand, where he first smoked marijuana.

Back at UCLA, Manzarek earned praise for his early films, practiced transcendental meditation and formed a band. It was he who recognized the potential of his darkly Dionysian classmate Jim Morrison, teaching him to sing in a two-week crash course at his parents’ house. Their band became The Doors, named after William Blake’s poem and Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception. Psychedelic experimentation was central to the group’s wild success.

While the troubled Morrison descended into alcoholism and worse, Manzarek stayed sharp over the years with his choice of inebriants. He appeared in the 2006 VH1/Sundance Channel documentary series, "The Drug Years," and spoke engagingly about marijuana in a recent documentary about the glory daze of the UCLA Bruins basketball team. In October 2008, he appeared at the NORML conference in Berkeley, California.

Source: No One Gets Out of Here Alive, by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman

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