Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74

Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74

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Ray Manzarek of The Doors performs at the Sunset Strip Music Festival, Aug. 16, 2012, West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) Ray Manzarek of The Doors performs at the Sunset Strip Music Festival, Aug. 16, 2012, West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
The Doors, from left, John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison, pose for a publicity portrait. (AP Photo, File) The Doors, from left, John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison, pose for a publicity portrait. (AP Photo, File)

Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist and founding member of The Doors who had a dramatic impact on rock 'n' roll, has died. He was 74.

Publicist Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald says Manzarek died Monday at the RoMed Clinic in Rosenheim, Germany, surrounded by his family. Robinson-Fitzgerald says his manager, Tom Vitorino, confirmed Manzarek died around 3:30 p.m. EDT. He had bile duct cancer.

Manzarek founded The Doors after meeting then-poet Jim Morrison in California. The band went on to become one of the most successful rock 'n' roll acts to emerge from the 1960s and continues to resonate with fans decades after Morrison's death brought an effective end to the band.

The Chicago native continued to remain active in music after Morrison's 1971 death. He briefly tried to hold the band together by serving as vocalist, but eventually the group fell apart. He played in other bands over the years, produced other acts, became an author and worked on films.

The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Manzarek is among the most notable keyboard players in rock history. His lead-instrument work with the band at a time when the guitar often dominated added a distinct end-times flavor that matched Morrison's often out there imagery and persona.

The group is best known for hits like "L.A.Woman," ''Break On Through to the Other Side," ''The End" and "Light My Fire" — a song particularly colored by his keyboard work — and came to symbolize the decadence of Los Angeles as the counterculture grew in the U.S.

Manzarek is survived by his wife, Dorothy, his son Pablo and two brothers, Rick and James.

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