Ray Manzarek Interview

© November 1989 by Rainer Moddemann

  The phone rang, Dorothy answered it.
Dorothy: It’s Peter.
Ray: Figgins, yeah, that’s the photographer guy.
  I stop the tape and wait until Ray has finished the call.
Ray: Tape’s rolling again?
Rainer: Yes, it is. Back to the video “L.A. Woman” on “Dance On Fire”. There’s a, you know, heavy sexual aspect to the sentence,
you know, “Mr. Mojo Risin’”. And you did the visuals for that, you know, with the mushrooms coming out of the ground
and stuff like that …
Ray: (laughs) Rising, just nature. That’s, oh, nature-worship (laughs). That’s not sexual, it’s just nature-worship. It just happens to
look like a moist penis coming out of the ground, doesn’t it?
Rainer: Yeah, sure it does.
Ray: An erection, right. And then the flower opens, yes, of course, right. Right. The eternal return, springtime, fecundity, ah, you know.
Life, the creation of life. And life is created sexually, all of life is created sexually, and isn’t it wonderful?
Rainer: It definitely is, yeah. What does Jim sing in that song exactly? I’ve never figured it out. Does he sing, “riding, riding”, or “right in,
right in”?
Ray: Yes, both!
Dorothy: He does all of ‘em.
Ray: All of ‘em, yeah.
Rainer: It’s quite hard to …
Ray: (sings) “Going ride in, ride in, ridin’ ridin’, right in, right in”, yeah, he does all of it, right. I think all of those thoughts were in his
mind at the same time, and so it’s kind of hard to tell exactly what he’s saying, but he’s saying all of those things, “risin’ risin’”,
“right in, right in”, “ridin’, ridin’”. So he’s saying all of it, but definitely going “ridin’ ridin’”, going “ridin’”, going “right in”. Pyuh!
Rainer: Where did you get those scenes from? Are they some outtakes from the film "Koyaanisqatsi"?
Ray: Ah, no, well, it’s from the same house, it’s a stock footage house. There are places in town that you can go to and buy stuff that’s
already been shot and "Koyaanisqatsi" used a lot from the same place. It’s called, I forgot the name of the place, Energy Productions
or something like that, and it’s stock footage. If you need a shot of the Eiffel Tower, instead of sending a film crew to France you go
to a stock footage house and say, “I need a shot of the Eiffel Tower, what do you have”, and they show you various shots of the
Eiffel Tower. So that’s what we did, we said, “Show us time-lapse photography of nature like flowers opening up, and then they sent
us a whole bunch of stuff. And when I saw the mushroom I said, “Yeah, we’re definitely gonna use the mushroom along with other things”.
Rainer: Good idea! You guys also used the “Adagio”. Is this the recording from “The Soft Parade” sessions?
Ray: Yeah, right, right, right.
Rainer: Did you record this one with the guys together in the studio?
Ray: Yeah, yeah. And a string track, right. Bruce Botnick’s father was a classical violinist and he was the conductor as they call it, of the
session and he had a bunch of classical string players he worked with over the years. And we all came down, we all played it together,
and that was fun!
Rainer: I guess so, yeah. What instrument did you play on that?
Ray: Ah, I play the clarinet.
Rainer: A clarinet?
Ray: (sings) Bow-ow-ow-ow-ow, that’s what I play.
Rainer: Oh, I see. Good. Back to Rick and The Ravens; in “No One Here Gets Out Alive” it says that you had a repertoire of about 25 songs.
Ray: With Rick and The Ravens?
Rainer: Yeah. Is that correct?
Ray: It’s possible. I mean, you know, the few songs that we have on that “AC/DC with The Doors” bootleg you gave me, all the recorded
songs, yeah, Rick and the Ravens had a lot of songs, ‘cos they were a surf band and they played a lot. And then we did a couple of
songs together, a sort of original compositions, and then we did a couple of blues songs. So when I’d get on stage, mainly what we’d
do is Blues. We’d do, you know, “Hootchie-Cootchie-Man”, and “Crawling King Snake”, and “King Bee”, a bunch of Chicago-Blues.
And my brother Jim played harmonica, a great harp player, and he usually played piano with Rick and the Ravens, and then I’d get
on stage. I would play piano and he would play harmonica and we’d do our Chicago-Blues set.
Rainer: Pretty interesting.
The Rick and The Ravens single releases.
Ray: It was fun at the “Turkey Joint West”, the place in Santa Monica where Rick and The Ravens played, when the guys from the
film school would come down and Jim would come down with … occasionally with a lot of other guys, and then I’d do invite them
on stage to sing and that was, you know, as far as I know Jim’s first appearance on stage, and we did “Louie, Louie” and things
like that.
Rainer: Where was this “Turkey Joint West”?
Ray: In Santa Monica. Around 2nd … about two blocks off the ocean, approximately 2nd and Arizona, in that area.
Dorothy: It’s called “Ye Old King’s Head” now.
Ray: Is it that “King’s Head Pub”? There’s a pub there, an English pub called “King’s Head”. And that’s where the “Turkey Joint West” was.
Porn shop next door to it (laughs), and they didn’t have a liquor license, but they sold hard liquor anyway, and they had beer and wine,
and they had wine coolers, and we used to get drunk on these God awful. Wine with Piña Colada-mix in it.
Rainer: Just that sweet stuff…
Ray: Oh my God. Sweet wine and sweet syrupy kind of … uh, terrible stuff. But it was great, it kept us going through film school, we’d …,
ah, each guy made $15 a night, Friday and Saturday night we made 30 bucks and that was a lot of money at the time. The rent was $75
a month, so if you made 30 dollars on a weekend, wow, it was great, three weekends paid your rent.
Rainer: Aehm, who played on the songs which are on this bootleg (I am pointing to the AC/DC-Doors bootleg – The Battle - I had brought for Ray
as a present)
Ray: Ah, on Rick and The Ravens?
Rainer: Yeah.
Ray: Ah, my brother Rick on guitar, my brother Jim Manczarek on keyboards and harmonica, Vinnie Thomas – Vince Thomas – played
drums, Roland Biscaluz on bass, and Pat Stonner – S-T-O-N-N-E-R, an appropriate name for a musician, Pat Stonner on saxophone.
Rainer: And you …
Rick and The Ravens.
Ray: Oh yeah, I played piano, too.
Rainer: And sang alias “Screaming Ray Daniels” …
Ray: Right, Screaming Ray Daniels, the Blues-Shouter.
Rainer: Who came up with that name?
Ray: Oh, God, I have no idea where that came from (laughs). Well, you couldn’t use a name like Manzarek, you know, I mean, this is
1962/63, my gosh, what a … how could anybody ever handle a name like that, you know, you had to have … so it’s my middle name
Daniel, Raymond Daniel Manzarek, so let us not use Manzarek, that’s entirely too complex for anybody to handle. C’mon, Pootie,
stop that, c’mon, get here!
(Pootie the parrot starts walking across the table again)
Rainer: Sounds like “Screaming Jay Hawkins” …
Ray: Screaming Jay Hawkins, right, exactly, right!
Rainer: Tell me about how you guys were trying to get a record company interested in the group … you’ve just had a few copies of the demo
disc, right?
The original Doors demo disc.
Ray: Yes, we had a few, about three or four copies only. That was about it. We walked the streets with that thing – that was hysterical.
Dorothy would be there, it was Dorothy and me, Jim, John would be along sometimes, ah, and a lot of times it was just Jim and I,
we walked into every record company in Los Angeles ‘n said, “Hi, we’re a Rock’n’Roll band called ‘The Doors’”. “What? The
Do… how do you spell that?” “D-O-O-R-S” “The Doors? I don’t get it, the name doesn’t make any sense.” “Well, we have a demo
here, would someone, do you have someone …?”and, “Yeah, ok, we’ll take your demo.” They would listen to it and reject us. They
would say, “No, we don’t want it. We don’t want it!” One guy literally threw us out of his office after he had listened to ‘Go Insane’,
saying, “You guys are sick! Get out of here!” A lot of people didn’t want it, everybody didn’t want it. Only Billy James, the guy at
Columbia, was the only one who said, “Yeah, yeah. You guys got something here.”
Rainer: Do you still own a copy?
Ray: Yeah, I got one, Jim wrote his phone number on it, it is sitting over there.
Rainer: Good! (Ray walks over to his record collection and picks out a disk from one of the lower shelves. He hands it over to me and I ask
him if I could take some photos. He agreed. After that, he carefully put the disc back into the collection. Here are two of the pics I
took of the Demo disc. Ray sat down again and continued talking.)
The original Doors demo disc.
Ray: I have no idea what shape it’s in, I haven’t … , you know, I don’t dare play it because it’s – every time you play one of those it gets all
sratched up, so some point or another I’ll play it and transfer it to digital.
Rainer: Have you got a hanky or something? (Pootie, the parrot, had just pooped on my shirt. He had been sitting on it for quite a long time …)
Ray: Yeah, did Pootie make a poopie, or … (laughs)
Rainer: Yes, he did (laughs)
Dorothy: Probably!
Ray: Yes, he did!
Dorothy: He does that. The only thing about having a bird, you know.
Rainer: I know, that’s true.
Dorothy: If you get used to it.
Rainer: Are you getting used to it?
Dorothy: You have to. We have no choice.
Ray: That’s why these are for us, and … wipe, wipe that off. And then, that’s what this is for (laughs). And it gets thrown in there,
just like that.
(Ray throws the hanky into a small trash bin standing next to the wall of their living room)
Dorothy: Can you bring his cage over, he wants to go out.
Ray: Yeah. No, wait a minute. Put him in, ah, put him in the kitchen.
Dorothy: In the kitchen?
Ray: Yeah. Come here, boy! (Thankfully Pootie slowly went onto Ray’s hand and was put into his cage. Dorothy took the cage, left the room and returned after a minute. I was unsure if I liked that private life of the Manzareks with their parrot, his poopies, or not)
Rainer: So then, Ray, you were involved with The Doors from the very beginning on, could we say that?
Ray: Ahm, yes.
Rainer: Very good. How then, how do you compare the old days to, you know, the new things you are doing at the moment?
Ray: The old days were … (he stopped talking, and looked up to the ceiling of the room)
Rainer: … more interesting?
Ray: Oh, the old days were a lot of fun. It is nice now, it’s different. See this rubber band? (We all hear a key turning in the front door)
Dorothy: Is that Pablo?
Ray: Yeah.
Dorothy: It’s our son.
Ray: It’s Pablo. Hey, Pablo, say ‘Hello’ to Rainer from Germany. He’s the guy who’s in charge of the Doors Fan Club Magazine that comes out.
Rainer: Every once in a while …
Ray: Every once in a while.
Rainer: Hi Pablo, how are you doing?
Pablo: Pretty good. Nice to meet you.
Dorothy: Are you going to the gym?
Pablo: I already went.
Ray: You did.
Dorothy: You already went?
Pablo: I left my clothes in the car but I went.
Ray: I was gonna go with you. Ok, good! (Pablo left the room and disappeared in the kitchen. Dorothy follows him)
Rainer: Shall we continue doing our interview?
Ray: Go ahead! Aehm, may I take one of your cigarettes? Dorothy does not like me smoking, but she’s just gone with Pablo.
Rainer: Sure, take one. (I offer him one of my Marlboros and he uses my lighter)
What were the first songs for the first Doors album that you recorded?
Ray: Oh, the “Moonlight Drive”? Well, for the first Doors album … the first song that the Doors ever played together as The Doors was
“Moonlight Drive”. That first rehearsal session when the oors first got together ‘n played “Moonlight Drive”, and Robby put on his bottleneck and I showed him the chord-change, a simple Blues song, and that was the first time The Doors - that Robby came down to
play – and the first time The Doors ever played together and, you know, we smoked a joint and talked for a while and talked about life.
Man, God and existence – as The Doors always were want to talk about, and then we started to play. And by that time we were all
pretty high, and played the song, and it was just absolutely amazing. The power of The Doors together locked in, a thing happened and
it just locked in together and we played that song and it just was driving and powerful. And at the end of it we all just sorta looked at
each other … Jesus Christ, wow! And I told … that’s when I told John and Robby, you know, I played in a lot of bands, and I’ve been
playing the piano since I’ve been 7 years old, played with a lot of people. But I’ve never played music until this moment. Now I know
what playing music is all about. Look, we just, you know, our conscious minds just went away and we’ve just lowered ourselves down
into that primordial place, that collective Jurassic, collective unconscious, that primordial place that we all come from, where all the
power and the danger lies. And every guy was willing to go into that dangerous place, that place, that secret place, and expose himself
to the other members of the band through their music, to expose himself in his vulnerability and weakness. And in all our vulnerability
came this incredible sense of power. Oddly enough, by going there and exposing those weaknesses, you gain an incredible power.
You find that instead of being weak; you find yourself to be actually incredibly powerful, infinitely powerful.
Rainer: Wow, I can imagine, Ray. You seemed to have a great repertoire of a couple of songs, but who made the choice for the first album?
Ray: Oh, we all did. It was like, you know, we had two albums worth of material and it was, you know, we … everybody just sort of sat around
and said, ‘Ok, you know, what’ll we put on, ok, … we’ll have to see what we … ‘. That’s why “When The Music’s Over” is on the second
album, beause we already had “Light My Fire” and “The End”, well, we can’t put three long songs, so shall we have “The End”;
obviously “Light My Fire”, ‘cos that’s a dance song and poppy, and we’ll have “Light My Fire”, so shall we do “The End” or “When
The Music’s Over”? Those two were in a minor key, so let’s do “The End”. Ok, fine, let’s do “The End”. Save “When The Music’s Over”.
So it was, you know, everybody, all four of us just sat around and decided.
Rainer: It was interesting to learn that you also recorded “Indian Summer”, and that one came out on The Doors 5th album, “Morrison Hotel” …
Ray: Right. A long time later, right. ‘Don’t we have a version of “Indian Summer”? Ok, let’s use that’”. (laughs)
Rainer: On “Morrison Hotel” this song has got a very different sound compared to the other tunes …
Ray: Yeah, right. (laughs)
Rainer: I have always guessed it wasn’t from the “Morrison Hotel” sessions, but recorded much earlier, until Robby told me, ‘Well, it was one
of the first songs we ever recorded’.
Ray: Exactly, right. It was sorta like a demo in the studio. You know, we went into the recording studio with Rothchild and Botnick, and there
was a simple little piece and it was basically like a warm-up thing just to see how the studio was sounding and everything. And, we also did “Moonlight Drive”. We never used that version of “Moonlight Drive”, however, the sound wasn’t right and we had to play with this and so, “Indian Summer” was another one just to test the sound in the studio, because it was a very simple piece. So it was like doing “The End”,
beause it was an Indian song, but instead of doing “The End” to test the studio with, “The End was far too long and intense to be
experimenting with just the sound and technical things, we did this short little Indian-style piece. Also in the studio, interestingly, the first
song we recorded was “Moonlight Drive”. o the first song Jim sang to me on the beach when we first got together, and he said, ‘I got these
songs …’ and that whole story, and everybody knows he did “Moonlight Drive”. Then, when The Doors get together the first song The
Doors do is “Moonlight Drive”. When we got into the recording studio they said – Paul said, Bruce said, ‘Well, let’s do a song’. ‘Ok, why
don’t we just go ahead and do anything … well, let’s do “Moonlight Drive”, and there it was again. Somehow that was the first song
every time.
Ray Manzarek.
Photo © Rainer Moddemann
Rainer: Whose idea was the typical Doors’ logo? It became a real classic icon …
Ray: Bill Harvey from Elektra Records. He was the art director at Elektra Records and, at the time the band called Love was on Elektra
Records and I think he had designed their logo, too, he probably did, and people were having graphical design on their, psychedelic,
the psychedelic era and all of that stuff, the Fillmore and the Avalon with all kinds of psychedelic lettering. So Bill Harvey said, ‘Let me
see how I can design a logo’, and Jim said, ‘Don’t make it too psychedelic, man, we wanna read the damn thing, for God’s sake’, and Bill
Harvey took it in the opposite direction and made it a sort of o high-tech, hard-edged kind of thing. So, that was all Bill Harvey, he did a
wonderful job. William S. Harvey.
Rainer: You were also one of the first groups who used the synthesizer, you know, after The Monkees, they used it, too …
Ray: Yeah, right, right. That was fun. It was a Moog synthesizer, a big, huge modular Moog, and it was played by a guy named Paul Beaver.
And he came down with that thing and set the stuff up and I just could not believe it. What? I couldn’t believe it. There’s a keyboard
playing this … it was a spaceship, it looked like a spaceship. He just brought in module after module after module, and they were all very
big modules, and when he had it all set up it was like the Star Trek, I thought we were on a spaceship, but no, it was the control room.
I said, ‘Ok, this is no longer a control room, this is now the bridge of the Enterprise’, and it was amazing to see him twist those knobs. But
curiously, he could never stop twisting the knobs, any time we’d get, he’d get a sound that we’d kind of like, he would tweak it a little bit
and it would become another sound, and another sound, and, and, and after about an hour of it we realized that all we had to do with that
guy is just as soon as … ‘Stop! Don’t touch a knob!’ Because he was in … always, always turning and tweaking and twisting, and, ‘How
about this, well, how about this, how about …’, and it went on and on, and they were great sounds! We said, ‘Jesus, will you stop already,
please!’ I wouldn’t be surprised I that’s what killed him, you know, poor old Paul Beaver, and he died quite young. I think he was only
like 42 or 43 when he died. So, probably all that twisting of those knobs and those sounds, I’m sure his nervous system said, ‘That’s it!’.
You know the nerve-ends said, ‘I can’t take it anymore!’
Rainer: What kind of keyboard did you use for the first two albums?
Ray: Ah, the first album I used the Vox and piano, the grand piano. What else did I use, I can’t recall. I don’t think I used anything else. Now
here’s a, here’s a tack piano, but on the second album we had eight tracks – the first album was only four tracks, and the second album
was eight tracks. So when we got into the studio and Bruce Botnick showed us this new machine and said, ‘Look, you’ve got eight tracks!’
We said, ‘Eight tracks! You mean everything we did on the first album plus we have four extra tracks to overdub?’ I thought, ‘That’s it!
I’m in heaven!’ So I played, I played everything that was available, you know, everything. I’d play a harpsichord, “Love Me Two Times”
is a harpsichord, tack piano, backwards piano, we wrote the music out measure by measure, and I wrote just measures and put the chord
changes in and started on the lower right hand side and read the whole thing backwards, and as it was playing backwards, hoping, not
knowing, you know, I could tell when I was in the right chord, but not knowing where the hell it was all gonna come out, and the song began
as I ended. I played the last, I said, ‘God, I’m at the beginning here, I hope this is the last’, and sure enough. The playback in my ears
stopped, ‘n I said, ‘Oh, good!’ It was one pass, ‘n I said, ‘Don’t ever!’. You know, I felt like Napoleon in the Great Pyramid. There’s a
story that Napoleon went and spent a night in the Great Pyramid in Egypt, alone. Came out in the morning and one of his generals said,
‘What happened?’, and Napoleon said, ’Never let me do that ever again!’. That’s what I said, ‘Do not ever let me try to play a song
backwards ever again!’.
Rainer: How then did you get the idea to do this?
Ray: Because somebody was using some backwards cymbals, and it had a great sound. ‘Hey, backwards tack piano. There was a spare track,
there’s another track, there’s eight. We only have seven tracks filled, let’s fill an eighth track! What can we do? Backwards piano!’
Do you know that ‘wob, wob?’. Robby loved that sound. I think it was probably Robby’s idea, but fortunately we all worked it out.
Rainer: Let’s talk about the bottom of a musical group, the bass. Who played as a bass guitarist on your second album?
Ray: Dough Lubahn, yeah. He used to be a bass guitarist for the group Clear Light.
Rainer: Did you play the bass on the first Doors albums?
Ray: Yeah, right, I played piano bass on most of it, and we had – ah, Larry Knechtel, a studio session guy who came in with a Fender and played,
matched my bass lines and played with a Fender, an electric bass to get the click, ‘cos that piano bass just didn’t have the attack. It was
fine in a concert in a large room, but on a recording session it was a little soft, it just didn’t have that click of a plucked string, so it tended
to get a little soft, a little woofy in the bottom on a record. So, a couple of cuts, he plays exactly the same thing I’m playing. I forgot which
cuts he played on. I’ll be a matter of listening to and saying, ‘Ok, that’s clicky, that’s!’ You know, on the first album, so whatever has a
sort of clicky sound to it – that’s Larry Knechtel. There’s two or three of them.
Rainer: Do you remember what kind of bass guitar it was?
Ray: A Fender. You know, Fender Jazz-Bass. That’s all I know.
Rainer: Compared to the long LP-version, the short version of “Light My Fire” on all 7” singles is half a tone higher. How come?
Ray: Oh, is it? Ok. I have no idea why. That’s probably due to the transfer to the tape-machine, you know, somewhere down the line one
of the tape-machines was running a little bit faster when they were making the single. Or maybe Paul actually did goose it a little bit.
There was a lot of that going on, too.
Rainer: Or speed it up for radio play?
Ray: Give it a little bit. Give it a little bit more, little brighter, just tune it up, you know, ‘cos you had a capstan wheel. I know what it was,
ok, they used to wrap the capstan wheel with some tape. If you put a little tape around one of the capstans on the tape-machine you
could vary the pitch. You could raise the pitch, you cold make it go a little bit faster. So when it came to doing the single I’m sure
that’s exactly what they did. Just for the radio, just for a little extra-added brightness, and just a little bit more for the radio.
Because at the time radio was pretty popular, you know, it was still very pop-radio, so you had to add a lot of punch and brightness
to it. Plus The Beatles always had such bright poppy records that everyone was always trying to, ‘How do The Beatles get all that
brightness in there?’. Well, it was The Beatles, you know, the reason they got all that brightness is because of the nature of the
human beings that were making the music, you know, they were bright, poppy guys. And bright poppy guys just infused the tape with
that energy that comes off … that ame out of their psyches. And for The Doors the energy was not bright and poppy – it was a
primordial, primeval power of nature, of birth and rebirth, and the energy of the planet.
Rainer: Do you know if Jim ever met The Beatles? There’s this rumor going around that he met them in London.
Ray: Ah, well, if he did I don’t know. He might have, he might have. I don’t know. We said ‘Hello’ to George Harrison, who came down
once to our studio while we were recording.
Rainer: When was that?
Ray: Ah, during one of our sessions, I forget, maybe 3rd, 4th recording session, probably ‘Waiting For The Sun” or maybe even
‘Morrison Hotel’. No, “Waiting For The Sun” I think it was. And John Lennon, Dorothy, Pablo and I had eye-contact once in Los
(laughs). When he was in L.A. after he had left Yoko, and he was here with Harry Nilsson and doing his one year of
drunkenness or whatever, like the Ray Milland movie “The Lost Weekend”. Well, John was doing his lost year. And he was driving
a Porsche Speedster, ‘cos I remember seeing the car – an old Porsche Convertible – and at the time we were thinking about getting
another car – we had a Citro?n DS 21 Pallas, a red bathtub, inverted bathtub – and here comes this Porsche Speedster, and I said,
‘Oh, what a neat car, man’, and I looked at the car and then I looked at the guy and I realized the guy was John Lennon. And he
looked at me in the Citro?n and the license-plate was “MAU MAO”, a play on the Chairman Mao and the African Mau man, a
personalized license-plate that you could get in California … so I was driving, Dorothy was sitting next to me and she was holding
Pablo who was like a year and a half on her lap next to me and Lennon looked at me and his eyes then flashed over to a guy – John
Lennon and I are the same type with the glasses and the hair and everything – and then he looked at Dorothy, an oriental girl like
Yoko, and she’s sitting there holding their baby. And two weeks later John Lennon went back to New York to Yoko. Whether we had
anything to do with it or not I don’t know, but two weeks later he was back in New York.
Rainer: That’s funny! What can you tell me about the studio version of “The Celebration Of The Lizard”? Why didn’t you guys put it on
“Waiting For The Sun”?
Ray: Ah, yah, gosh, I haven’t even heard that tape in so long. It’d be interesting to listen to the tape to see how it stands up now. At the
time we recorded it we went to a smaller studio. Rothchild wasn’t there, we just went in with Bruce just to lay it down to see how it
might sound, and we did one take, maybe two takes, but it was not a good night. It was one of those nights where it just wasn’t
happening, and we never did anything with it, because it just lacked. It lacked the cohesive energy and it just lacked the passion,
you know, when you’re dealing from the primordial depths as The Doors did you didn’t always tap into the passion. It depends, you
know, the passion would … the muse, the Greek Gods, the muses, it would depend on so many different factors and circumstances
that sometimes it didn’t work. And you don’t use those when it doesn’t work, you say, ‘Hey, that didn’t work. Let’s go back and try
it again another day’. So they just didn’t work. From an emotional standpoint of view they didn’t work.
Rainer: What other songs didn’t work as an example? What about “Rock Is Dead”?
Ray: “Rock Is Dead” was just a jam. That didn’t count. That was never intended to be a song, a piece; that was a spontaneous
improvisation at the time. A mellotron was in the studio, so I was fooling around with the mellotron. We were in the middle of …
I forget which recording session, but we had gone out for dinner to the Blue Boar, a vaguely kind of European pub, as far as Los
Angeles is concerned, they put a bunch of shields on the wall and put some animal heads and a couple of lags and some heavy
wooden tables. Who knows what country that stuff came from, England, or Germany or France – for us it was one of those hunting
places. And we all got drunk, and we were toasting each other, more wine for my men, Jim was in a great mood, and we came back
to the studio and said, ‘Ok, it’s time to record’, and we’re all half drunk, ¾ drunk, said, ‘Oh – record – ok – onto the next song, let’s
just play something, men!’ And John just got a beat going, and then Jim got started and it just led to … one thing led to another.
Rainer: So the whole thing was just an improvisation?
Ray: Total improvisation, right.
Rainer: The lyrics …
Ray: Well, there were things that he had, I mean, you know …
Rainer: That’s what I mean, yeah.
Ray: You know, some of it was made up on the spot, others were, you know, poetic things, notes and bits & pieces that he had in his mind
from his poetry, and how he put them together was – ah – was the improvisation plus, you know, some of the lines were created on
the spur of the moment.
Rainer: It’s pretty popular on bootleg.
Ray: Yeah, well, it’s such a great title, “Rock Is Dead”.
Rainer: Somehow it reminds me of The Who’s “Long Live Rock”, you know, why not? Once you were talking about a song called “Luther
And The Apostle”, do you remember that song?
Ray: No.
Rainer: No?
Ray: No.
Rainer: I have an interview with you on tape telling a journalist about it.
Ray: “Luther…” , a song or a group?
Rainer: A song.
Ray: (laughs) Martin Luther (laughs). “Luther And The Apostles”, well, who knows, I might have been drunk then, too, you can’t always …
you know
(laughs) … might have been a long time. If it was a long time ago I take no responsibility for anything (laughs). I plead
the 5
th amendment. Was it in Germany? Was I talking about it in Germany? If it was in Germany, I definitely was drunk. You guys
with your beer! ‘Ray, what about a Jagermeister?’
Rainer: Oh, Jägermeister …
Ray: ‘C’mon, Ray, have a shot, a toast. Ray, for you, yah, c’mon, c’mon, Jagermeister, ok?’ – BRRNK – then a beer, a great German beer.
Then somebody else says, ‘Ray, I would like to have a drink with you, let’s have a Jagermeister, c’mon, Ray! One for you and one for
me, c’mon, to you, Ray!’ – BRRNK – and you drink that next one, and you … who knows, you know. Martin Luther

(very special thanks to Lindsey McFadyen)

© 1999 Rainer Moddemann, The Doors Quarterly Magazine. This interview may not be distributed in any other context or media.