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It was at UCLA that [Jim Morrison] met Ray Manzarek, also a film student but an accomplished musician as well. Born in Chicago to a hardworking immigrant family, Manzarek started piano lessons early, beginning with Beethoven and Bach and progressing to stride piano, ragtime and boogie-woogie by the time he was 12. He was good at sports, but once a friend with a portable radio introduced him to “the far right-hand side of the dial,” he gave up athletics for the blues sounds of John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters and, later, the early rock music of Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Although Morrison and Manzarek had known each other in school, they didn’t really connect until the day in July 1965 when they bumped into each other on Venice Beach and the lead-singer-to-be said, “I’ve been writing some songs.” Pudgy by nature, Morrison had lost nearly 20 pounds once he got off the UCLA food plan and started taking drugs instead, and when Manzarek heard his now-sinuous, sexy friend sing hesitantly and then with growing confidence, he said, “We’re gonna make a million dollars!” Sitting there in the sand, Manzarek could already hear himself “comping” behind Morrison’s voice, playing jazz-rock mixed with a Latin sound as the singer went where the song took him. It was in a Transcendental Meditation class—remember, this is the ’60s—that Manzarek met the two other future Doors, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger.

Kirby, D. (2015, August 27). Breaking on through the legend of the Doors. Retrieved from www.washingtonpost.com

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Jim Morrison by Stephan Beauvais

Jim Morrison Project

The Jim Morrison Project is an audio & visual anthology detailing the life of Jim Morrison through his poetry, films, art, spoken word & music with The Doors.