He created one of rock's most mythic bands and what was perhaps rock's most recognizable keyboard phrases.
Ray Manzarek, the co-founder and keyboard player for the Doors, died Monday. He was 74.
According to several sources, Manzarek died in Germany. He had been suffering from bile duct cancer and was surrounded by his family at the time of his death.
Manzarek and singer Jim Morrison formed the Doors in the mid-1960s. Along with drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger, Manzarek and Morrison created some of the most popular and most distinctive music of the era, a blues-based rock highlighted by Morrison's sensual voice and evocative lyrics, along with Manzarek's distinctive keyboard lines.
The Doors were one of the few rock bands of the 1960s that featured keyboard riffs more often than guitar. The first notes most people heard of the Doors came from Manzarek's fiery introduction to "Light My Fire."
Manzarek's keyboards were also in the foreground of such Doors' hits as "Break on Through (to the Other Side)." Manzarek was one of the first rock keyboard players to perform on the Moog synthesizer, a revolutionary instrument at the time. In concert, he also essentially served as the Doors' bassist, playing bass lines on his keyboards.
Morrison, who lived in St. Petersburg for a time before the formation of the Doors, died in 1971. The Doors disbanded not long afterward.
Manzarek in recent years had been touring with Krieger.
"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," Krieger said in a statement on the Doors' official Facebook page. "I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade."
The family has asked that people who want to honor Manzarek make donations in his name at www.standup2cancer.org.
-- Herald Features/Entertainment Writer Marty Clear