RIP: Ray Manzarek of the Doors – LOUIE of the Week

It was a very sad Monday when we learned that we lost Ray Manzarek to cancer. That very same morning, one of my old friends, Mike Sullivan, lost his wife Lori to cancer. A few weeks earlier, another friend of mine underwent some major surgery to remove his cancer-infected jaw. It seems like no matter where I turn, there’s always somebody else dealing with this terrible disease.

In the course of my profession as producer/videographer/camera operator, I keep hearing from a variety of different doctors, scientists, and researchers that describe how the level of cancer we’re experiencing nowadays simply did not exist fifty years ago. From what I’ve been told, there are some environmental, nutritional and cultural factors that have made such diseases a much more common occurrence in the 21st Century.

I honestly don’t know what to think, but I’m really getting tired of this crap.

Ray Manzarek was an exceptional musician that played keyboards with The Doors – a very successful band that sold millions of recordings all over the world.

I was privileged to have worked as a camera operator on three separate occasions which featured Ray as a performer- the Monterey Pop reunion event of 2007, a 2008 concert with Michael McClure at Yoshi’s in San Francisco and the WestFest of 2009 which took place at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

I also had an opportunity to interview Ray for my LOUIE documentary project when he once did a show at San Jose State University in the early 1990’s. He told me that one of the very first songs Jim Morrison ever did in public was LOUIE LOUIE with Ray’s old band Rick and the Ravens, planting a seed in Jim’s mind, which of course, led to an entirely different musical group he formed with Ray.

In the course of my documentary research, I tracked down a rare photograph of this band from Judd Whitcher, one of his old band members. In 2007, I wrote a blog posting about this experience, which led to Rui Pedro Silva of Portugal contacting me to see if I’d like participate in a rather ambitious book he was assembling on the history of The Doors.

Rick & the Ravens at Turkey Joint, Santa Monica

Not long after I participated with Rui on his book, I ran into Ray backstage at the WestFest event in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. I told Ray about this photo I obtained, and he mentioned that he didn’t even have a copy of this image, so we exchanged emails, and I sent him all that I had on his old band, for which he was very grateful.

The last time I saw Ray perform was at the new Sweetwater nightclub in Mill Valley. He was playing with his old friend Michael McClure, and was joined by special guest Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. They all sounded great together, and as far as I know, it may have been the only time the three of ’em ever played together.


I’m saddened that Ray has left us, but very grateful for all the music that he left behind… as well as the stories he shared with us.

Rest in peace, brother Ray.

To celebrate Ray Manzarek’s legacy, here’s The Doors performing LOUIE LOUIE for this week’s LOUIE!


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