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Ray Manzarek Interview in Keyboard Magazine

cover of Keyboard Magazine Feb. 1991 (vol. 17 #2, issue #178) with Peter Figen's photo of Ray Manzarek

Keyboard Magazine Issue #178 (Feb. 1991, vol. 17 #2) may be the ultimate resource for those of you who've e-mailed wanting to know more about Ray Manzarek's musicianship. This issue, with Peter Figen's great photo of Ray on the cover, featured an interview at page 80 that goes into much more technical detail than does his autobiography, though Light My Fire will give you a resonating sense of where his music comes from and how it evolved.

The feature includes transcriptions of the piano solos from Light My Fire, Riders on the Storm, and L.A. Woman, as well as a detailed history of Ray's musical influences from his own viewpoint. Here's a taste:

Never went through a Chopin phase. It had to be twentieth-century... But then Russian classical music got to me, because those guys had so much soulfulness. The Rite of Spring, where they hit that rhythmic section -- wow, is that powerful.

So even as a teenager, you were into the more adventurous contemporary repertoire.

That and jazz, since I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Blues and jazz -- African-American music -- really got me going. The first time I heard Muddy Waters and those guys, it was the same minor [key] melancholy sense that some of the Russian compoers had, but translated into music that had a beat and a blue note -- those flatted sevenths. So it was a combination of the blues, and Russian classical music, and then of course Miles [Davis]... When I figured out what he was doing, it was so much fun to play. Eventually, all of these influences became the way I play the piano.

Bonus! When you do find this issue of Keyboard, check out bebop pianist Borah Bergman's "Want a Monster Left Hand?" finger exercises, and Robert Doerschuk's column on improvisational boogie-woogie. Both relate nicely to the unique style that Ray's "Mr. Lefty" made possible for the Doors and his later work. (Listen to the sample from High Heelz. (1.5 MB. (a Quicktime movie)

To order back issues of Keyboard, visit their website or call 1-800-444-4881.

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