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Rick & the Ravens, founded in 1961, was the band Ray Manzarek was in before he joined The Doors. The band recorded three singles on Aura Records before splitting up and reforming as The Doors in early October 1965.
The band initially consisted of Rick Manczarek on guitar, Jim Manczarek on organ and harmonica, Patrick Stonier on saxophone, Roland Biscaluz on bass and Vince Thomas on drums. The drummer and bass player were initially not permanent members, but asked to join whenever a gig was upcoming. The moniker "Rick" in the band name was Ray Manczarek's brother Rick Manczarek.
In 1962 Ray Manczarek, having moved to Los Angeles from Chicago, joined on vocals and occasional piano. At the time the Manczareks wrote their name Manczarek, with the letter "c", as did Ray. He changed the spelling upon joining The Doors.
Because of his voice, with a timbre closer to the traditional blues delivery than rock and roll, Manzarek was also known as "Screamin' Ray Daniels" (Manzarek's middle name is Daniel), "Screamin' Ray", "the Bearded Blues Shouter", or simply "the Screamer".
The band used to perform on weekends for college crowds, mostly from UCLA Film School, at a bar on 2nd Street and Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica, California, called the Turkey Joint West, a British pub operated by the Santa Monica Soccer and Social Club, since 1974 known as Ye Olde King's Head. Their setlist consisted of their own originals, padded with standards such as "I'm Your Doctor, I Know What You Need," "Louie, Louie," Smokey Robinson's "Money" and Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man."
In an interview conducted by Rainer Moddemann, Manzarek stated the first song Jim Morrison performed with Rick & the Ravens was Richard Berry's "Louie Louie." Morrison was not officially part of the band at that time; Manzarek simply invited his former college colleague on stage, much to everyone's surprise. Morrison was reportedly not prepared for this—his first public performance—and sang himself hoarse. Morrison and Manzarek had met previously and found each other sharing a lot of musical and artistic interests. Later Manzarek asked Morrison to join the band; Morrison accepted.
The 1965 World Pacific Demo
On September 2, 1965 the band entered World Pacific Studios and recorded six songs that would eventually become Doors songs; "Moonlight Drive", "My Eyes Have Seen You", "Hello, I Love You", "Go Insane" (the early title of "A Little Game" from the "Celebration of the Lizard" suite, known simply as "Insane" on the acetate), "End of the Night", and "Summer's Almost Gone". The recording session was a relatively quick affair, only lasting three hours in total. Singer Morrison was reportedly delighted to hear his voice on a record for the first time. The demo was released in its entirety on The Doors' box set in 1997. The tracks on the box set were mastered from what was originally Rick Manzarek's acetate—now in the possession of Ray Manzarek—which was one of only five made.
Transformation to The Doors
The band that recorded the demo was not the Doors, however, but Rick & the Ravens. The 1965 demo features Jim Morrison on vocals, Ray Manzarek on piano and background vocals, John Densmore on drums, Rick Manzarek on guitar, Jim Manzarek on harmonica and Patricia "Pat" Hansen (née Sullivan) from Patty and the Esquires—the band she had with Chuck Hansen, whom she later married[—on bass guitar. After the demo was recorded, the band tried to pass it around. Both Jim and Rick Manzarek were disappointed in the response to the demo—additionally both of the Manzareks, along with Sullivan, were not impressed by the new Morrison songs—and subsequently the Manzarek brothers, sans Ray, quit the band, stating they felt the band was "going nowhere fast".
In other words, the songs were cut before both of Ray's brothers left the band and Robby Krieger joined from the Psychedelic Rangers in October 1965. Psychedelic Rangers drummer John Densmore had joined Rick & the Ravens earlier the same year, in August. Krieger never played in Rick & the Ravens, though. At Morrison's suggestion the band changed its name to The Doors a month after they had recorded the demo, shortly prior to Krieger joining the line-up. The Doors was thus initially a quintet, but when Manzarek decided to handle the bass duties with the newly introduced Fender Rhodes PianoBass, Pat Sullivan was dropped from the line-up in December 1965, ultimately ending up with the "classic" quartet.
Please note the singles were meant as promotional material only. They were never in wide circulation, nor were they even meant to be published outside the promotional circuits. On the "Soul Train / Geraldine" single, the artist is labeled "Ray Daniels feat. Rick & the Ravens", with "Ray Daniels" double billed. The last singles were initially meant as vehicles to promote Ray Manczarek (billed as "Ray Daniels") as lead artist, with the Ravens merely a backing band. Promotional material presented the artist as "Rick & the Ravens featuring the Voice of Ray Daniels". These plans were discarded when Morrison joined the line-up.
All of these promo tracks have later ended up on various Doors bootlegs, erroneously labelling the tracks as songs by the Doors. Although quite common, the song pair "Circle Twist" and "Blow Top" are not songs by Rick & the Ravens, but are simply, and perhaps deliberate, mislabels.