Ray Manzarek Interview

© November 1989 by Rainer Moddemann

Rainer: There’s this nice cut on tape that I’ve got, you know, The Doors did it at the Felt Forum in New York. I think it’s called ‘New York Quiz Show’.
Ray: Right. (sings) "Going to New York, get on the New York-Quiz-Show".
Rainer: That’s brilliant, Pretty nice.
Ray: Right, right.
Rainer: As far as I know it’s not out on bootleg, I’ve just got it on tape.
Ray: Aha.
Rainer: Ok, talking about never published stuff … what happened to the songs or parts of songs that Rothchild cut off … you know he cut bits and
pieces of recorded music together … what happened to the original tapes? Do you guys still have them or are they in Elektra’s archives, or…
Ray: Ah, what songs?
Rainer: I mean you recorded a couple of takes of each song and you did a few different live versions of songs …
Ray: Ooh, oh, I got you, I understand what you’re saying. The outtakes, called the outtakes. Yeah, the outtakes are probably somewhere, you
know, they should be in Elektra’s vault. If they still have the out… they probably have outtakes. Sure, there are, you know, there are a
couple of different versions, but, you know, the one that we used is invariably the one that had the right feel to it, you know, and the only
reason you don’t use the other takes is because maybe somebody makes a mistake, or the feel is just not right. "No, that one didn’t quite
have it, let’s take a break and come back and do another one". And then you get the one invariably, everybody sort of knows which one it
is, ‘cause when you’re playing it you can feel that, "Ok, we’ve got it here, this is happening now".
Rainer: There’s a pretty nice book out on The Beatles’ recording sessions written by Mark Lewison, and somebody should do one on The Doors’
recording sessions, you know, if possible.
Ray: Yeah, I don’t know if all that stuff is so well-documented. You know, The Beatles have everything well-documented, you know, and The
Doors are like Nijinski. You know, there are only … how many photos of Nijinsky? You know there’s a beautiful picture book, 25 photos
of Vaslav Nijinsky, you know, there’s nothing …
Dorothy: There’s no film of Nijinsky.
Ray: No film on Nijinsky, you know. So we’re lucky, at least we have film on The Doors, but, you know, we weren’t into really documenting the
stuff that much, it was the, you know, the act of existence at the moment is the important thing, you know, you live your reality in a moment
to moment existence, and how you live that moment to moment existence is a lot more important than documenting it, because if you’re
documenting it you can’t be living it at the same time, you can only one or the other. You can live it or you can document it. And we didn’t
really have anybody with us taking it down as if it was Holy Writ or anything else like that, that would have been ridiculous. Fortunately we
had Paul Ferrara and Babe Hill as a camera crew, because we got Jim Morrison on film, we got lots and lots of film with Jim Morrison, you
can see Jim and how he performed, and how The Doors performed, and how they interacted with each other, so, the Hollywood Bowl and all
those other things. You can see The Doors. You know, if it hadn’t been for our own film crew we wouldn’t have anything of that, we’d had the
Smothers Brothers Show, and the Ed Sullivan Show, and, you know, and I suppose at some point we would have done some major show,
recording a concert. But instead we have all kinds of things, you know, and it …, there’s even Jim in New Haven, you know, somebody
fortunately had that 8mm camera. There’s Jim being actually arrested in New Haven.
Rainer: Did you buy it from the guy who filmed it?
Ray: Yeah, right.
Rainer: Aha. You know, last year I was lucky to get this ‘Hello I Love You’ clip for you guys …
Ray: Oh, that was great, yeah, oh, and the reason we didn’t use it in color is because the show, since most of the whole show was in black & white,
to all of the sudden stick something in in color would not have been within the context of that concert, we would have been so jarring that the
people who were producing the show and all the rest of us said,
‘Why don’t we just do this in black & white? Let’s do this in black & white’.
The color was nice, but the Go-Go-girl …
Rainer: Yeah, that was pretty weird. When I was watching that for the first time, I thought, ‘What the fuck is this?’, you know …
Ray: (laughs) How dare you guys! Why didn’t you just show the people in the square, I mean, the juxtaposition of The Doors in that ancient square
and those people who were also square-standing around looking at us. I remember the little old men and the old ladies thinking, "What is this?
These longhairs!" What city was that in?
Rainer: Frankfurt.
Ray: Was that in Frankfurt? Ok.
Rainer: It was Frankfurt, yeah.
Ray: That was fun. God, we got ripped. That wine, they kept passing, Jim kept passing that bottle of wine back and forth. Some wonderful German
white wine! It was delicious!
Rainer: It was called Goldener Oktober. In a few photos I’ve seen you guys drinking it from the bottle …
The Doors in Frankfurt - September 13, 1968.
Photo © Michael Montfort
Ray: Is that a good wine or is it swill?
Rainer: Well, it a very cheap one.
Ray: Ok, well, it was fine. It’s just … it had a wonderful sweetness to it out in the middle of the street.
Rainer: It tastes fine, you know, but they produce millions of bottles of it, you know.
Ray: Ok.
Rainer: You know, it’s a white blend ….
Ray: It’s a German white blend of different wines, aha! Robby Krieger used to be a real expert on German white wines.
Rainer: I know, he told me.
Ray: He knew it, boy! He used to have wine at his house and he’d come out with a smile, “How would you like to try this one?”, and we had no
idea what it was, and he’d open it and the bouquet, and … just the light sweetness and the sauciness to it … he had a great wine palette.
Rainer: Sounds like he used to have a good selection of different wines. Let’s get back to some questions I am still having. Who were the, ah, was
this orchestra on ‘The Soft Parade’?
Ray: Right. Curtis Amy, obviously, ah, …
Rainer: Just a George Bohanon …
Ray: George Bohanon on trombone, Jazz-cat! There … I forget who was all on the session. And then a small string section, too. And, ah, Paul
Harris did the orchestrations, and he worked with …, later he went on to work with Crosby, Stills & Nash.
Rainer: Did you tape the orchestration after you had recorded …
Ray: No, a lot of it we did it at the same time, and, a lot of it was overdubs. We put the rhythm track down and then put the horns and strings on.
Rainer: Why didn’t you record ‘The Soft Parade’ at Sunset Sounds?
Ray: Where did we record that? At TTG. TTG, no, at Elektra. Did we record that at Elektra, well, Elektra had the new studio then.
Rainer: Oh, I see.
Ray: And they had just built their brand-new studio. “We can work here for free! Elektra’s own recording studio, we can work here for free!”
And Jac Holzman said, ‘For free?’ He’s the owner.
Rainer: Oh!
Ray: President of Elektra. He said, “You can’t work here for free. People come in here, they have to pay. But I’ll tell you what I will do: I’ll give
you a 10% discount”’ And we said, “Well, thanks a lot, Jac,
(laughs) … 10%, man, wow”’ Great, we could probably get a 10% discount
anywhere. We thought we were gonna work there for free, we were very excited. No, Sir!
Rainer: What was the instrument doing the first chords on the song ‘The Soft Parade’? You know, right after this a cembalo’s coming in there, too,
but what was the first?
Ray: (sings) “Da, da, da, da, da, da, da“ – that song? “Da, da, da” …
Rainer: No, the very first.
Ray: The very opening, it’s a harpsichord. It’s a harpsichord on a lute stop. It’s the lute stop on a harpsichord, and in the second part you release
the lute stop. Lute stop is a plucked …, ah, it is a dampened string; and then you release the damper, there’s a little lever that you hit with
your knee, and then you release it, move it to the left and then the strings ring clear. So at the beginning you hear the plucked string of the
harpsichord-stopped as it is called, and then it rings clean in the second part
(sings) “Can you give me sanctuary”
Rainer: What about the album cover, you know, I was wondering, you used a pretty old photo.
Ray: Yeah. I don’t know why we used that old photo. I can’t even remember that. I don’t know what happened there. I guess we just didn’t get
around to get … doing a photo session. It’s probably one of those things where the record was completed and we hadn’t done a photo session,
and Elektra was in a hurry to put it out, and they had these photos from Joel Brodsky’s photo session …
Rainer: Oh, I see, yeah.
Ray: And it was in New York, Bill Harvey’s in charge of the album, they’re putting the album together and he says to Joel Brodsky, “You got any
photos of The Doors?” … ‘n he says, “Yeah, you know, here is some stuff that was never used”. So they said, “Ok, and here is your album
cover”. “Oh”, we said, “Oh, ok. We don’t have any time to cha…” … you know. And Elektra said, “We’ve got no time to change it” I know
what it was. The album cover was shown to us. The artwork … we’ve never got the artwork, that’s what happened. We never got to see the
artwork before the album cover was completed. We get …
Rainer: Gee …!
Ray: Well, they were in a hurry, you know, they were really in a hurry, ‘cause we were late. We were very late, the album took a long time to
record, I think it took … we spent … I don’t know how long we spent on it. Off an’ on, off an’ on, we’d record a little bit, then we’d come back
to it, then we’d come back to it again, and for some reason or another that album took a long time to record. Not that we were in the studio
month after month after month, but somehow or another we’d do a week, a week’s worth of work and then take off, and then come back three
weeks later and record some more. And Elektra wanted of course, you know the record company wanted the record as soon as they could
possibly get it, so we were way behind … I think we were three of four months behind schedule that they had drawn up at the beginning of the
year as to when we were going to deliver an album. And they just … bum, bum, bum, and then said, “Here it is. We like it, and we hope you do,
too, because it’s shipping”. And we said, “Ok, alright, ship it, man, fine, it’s alright” You know, no one was really knocked out with the album
cover, but on the other hand there was nothing else we could do. It was already done and then it was ok, you know, nobody said, “I hate this
cover!” Everyone said, “Well, yeah, ok, alright. That’s alright."
Rainer: Jim wasn’t happy with the cover of ‘Absolutely Live’.
Ray: No. Nobody was happy with the ‘Absolutely Live’ cover, but what are you gonna do?
Rainer: I’ve always thought you had some more control on the design of the record covers.
Ray: Well, you do, you do with … you know, when the record company’s back in New York, and the art department is in New York, and you’re in
California and you can’t really sit down with the guy and go over the stuff, you know, you have to really go over it at initial stage. You can tell
them what you want, then they execute it and what you have to do is be in there in the first week of execution saying, “No, no, no, no, no, no,
no, NO! No, not that, not that!” Because once they go too far with it they can’t stop, they’re gone, and it’s done. Now, The Doors’ album covers
were usually done ‘in-house’, too, so, you know, they didn’t bring in great graphic artists to do the work, they prided themselves on doing the
work themselves, because they had an art department. So you’d have to go through the rigmarole of their art department, and that was always
a bit of a sticky problem for us. For instance, the inside of ‘Waiting For The Sun’, that has that lizard on it.
Dorothy: … picture of that lizard …
Rainer: Ah, that drawing?
Ray: See … ‘Waiting For The Sun’ was supposed to be ‘Waiting For The Sun’ nature, natural, beautiful photography, The Doors standing … Paul
Ferrara’s photo on the cover, perfect, in nature with the sun setting, ok, the back shot, “Let’s have a beautiful sunset with The Doors walking
in silhouette against a sunset in the hill”. Then on the inside, since we had the ‘Celebration Of The Lizard’, we want a photograph of a lizard
on a rock. ‘National Geographic’, do you know the magazine ‘National Geographic’?
Rainer: Yeah, sure.
Ray: American magazine, yeah, ‘National Geographic’. They had beautiful photography, so let’s have some bandit lizard on a jello-monster or
something, you know, in an Arizona desert and that’s, you know, this beautiful lizard sitting on a rock and maybe … or it’s got its neck spread
out or something, ‘National Geographic’, so everything would be of the same quality, the same look as the cover photograph. And back at
Elektra they said,
“Ok, we know exactly what you’re looking for, man, got you”. They did the album … this is another one. The Doors and
the art department, only place we had difficulties. We get the finished album with this drawing of a lizard. “
What the fuck is this drawing of a
lizard, we wanted a full-sized photograph”
, and then somebody said, “Well, we couldn’t find one”. They couldn’t find a photograph, see that’s
where the stock houses … that’s where you go! There are photographic stock houses, “National Geographic”, you go to the ‘National
Geographic’. You say, “
Let me see some desert scenes, let me see reptiles. You couldn’t find a photograph?” “No, we didn’t, we couldn’t find
one that we liked, so we drew one instead.” “Oh, shit, man! And the back cover, where’s the sunset? It’s like …
” There’s a silhouette of The
Doors on a hillside and they just put on a red gel over it.
“That’s not a sunset, man, where is the sun, where is …? You were supposed to make
it like a gorgeous sunset, and the sun, ‘Waiting For The Sun’, and the sun is shining. What is this day-glowered vaguely, you know,
bad-acid-trip-red? And then on the inside there’s this stupid lizard, ah …”.
So anyway, that’s unfortunately ‘Waiting For The Sun’, that did
not come out like it should have. Oh, well. It’s the music anyway, what does it matter what the album cover is, you know, the album graphics,
you know, whatever it is. What’s the music, you buy a record for the music anyway, so it really doesn’t matter.
Rainer: However, I still think the artwork is very interesting.
Ray: Yeah, oh yeah. I’d love to have had that whole natural, see, we wanted to do a whole natural thing, ‘cos ‘Strange Days’ had been that
city-Felliniesque circus troop in the city; now we wanted to go into nature to show a natural … show The Doors in a Californian natural, you
know, here is where we live, you know, that was New York ‘Strange Days’, this is ‘Waiting For The Sun’, so we want nature to infuse this,
the whole thing. And that would have been lovely, but it didn’t work out.
Rainer: You’ve put two totally different songs together, ‘Peace Frog’ and ‘Blue Sunday’. Were they recorded like that in the studio?
Ray: Yeah!
Rainer: Really?
Ray: Yeah, yeah!
Rainer: That’s interesting. Two totally different songs!
Ray: Yeah, yeah. Well, they seemed to work together, it was … for some reason or another that was, you know, probably, ah, a precursor of ‘The
Soft Parade’, because we did that same sort of thing in ‘The Soft Parade’. The song itself, ‘The Soft Parade’.
Rainer: How many songs of that record did you perform on stage?
Ray: 'The Soft Parade'?
Rainer: Yeah. ‘Blue Sunday’ as well from ‘Morrison Hotel’?
Ray: Oh, no, we didn’t do ‘Blue Sunday’ on stage. We tried it maybe a couple of times, I can’t recall.
Rainer: What about ‘Strange Days’? The song, did you do that on stage?
Ray: Yeah, we used to do ‘Strange Days’, yeah. We used to do ‘Strange Days’ a lot in the beginning. That was one of the songs that existed in the
beginning, and that was saved for the second album. Yeah, we used to play that a lot.
Rainer: What about the song ‘Waiting For The Sun’?
Ray: Waiting For The Sun’ we didn’t play too much in person.
Rainer: What does Jim shout in the middle of the song?
Ray: I don’t know.
Rainer: You don’t know?
Ray: I don’t know.
Rainer: (laughs) Nobody knows.
Ray: Nobody knows.
Rainer: I thought you’d know that.
Ray: Nobody knows.
Rainer: Sounds like, “It might turn” or something.
Ray: Oh, we don’t know what he said.
Rainer: Robby said it was, “Back back girl".
Ray: Nobody knows. Isn’t that great? Nobody knows what Jim said at that part, that is open to your interpretation.
Rainer: Aehm, you recorded ‘L’America’ for ‘L.A. Woman’. But this was originally planned for the movie ‘Zabriskie Point’.
Ray: ‘Zabriskie Point’, yeah, for Antonioni, right. He, of course, didn’t use it, it scared him.
Rainer: But ‘Zabriskie Point’ came out in 1969, so the song must have been an early recording. Is that true?
Ray: Yeah, yeah. We went in specifically to do that, and he, he went with Pink Floyd instead. No, no no, no, wait a minute, I don’t think that’s
what happened. We didn’t record it for him and the movie – we played the song, the song had existed, we played the song for him. He came
down to The Doors’ workshop there on Santa Monica Boulevard …
Rainer: Oh, I see.
Ray: … and we played the song for him. He came down with James Aubrey, he was the head of whatever, I think MGM, I think they might have
done it, and the two of them were in our rehearsal space and we played the shit out of the song and just played it, oh God, we killed it, I mean
we were really good. Antonioni was an old man, it was far too loud for him. And he was in this small room, and he just said, “Thank you”, and
just opened the door and just ran out of the room
Rainer: ‘L’America’ would have been the perfect song, you know, for the final scenes as the house blows up and explodes.
Ray: It would have been great for the beginning, too. Thank God he didn’t use it, the movie was so lame. That movie was terrible. Yeah, we had this
whole opening for him on in the desert and, you know, if he had taken the song he wouldn’t have heard the end of it, because we were gonna say,
(sings) “Ok, look, doo-doo-do-do-do-do-do”, a lizard on the haaaaah, Jim hisses like a lizard, and it’s a sunrise on the desert and this long
expanse of the desert, this empty desert, ‘Zabriskie Point’, the lowest point in Death Valley in America, and then we cut to …, and we were
making his movie for him, “Ok, then this part, now the rain man’s coming to town, into the cars. He comes into town”, and we had the whole
movie, we had the title sequence all designed for him
(laughs). He didn’t wanna have anything to do with too loud, too loud … “No,no,no, these
guys are crazy!”
(laughs). So he ran out and we never heard from him or saw him ever again. When he ran out, Aubrey, the other guy, said,
“Well, very good, thank you, boys.” And he kind of shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “Well, you know what are you gonna do”, and then he left.
And we all looked at each other and said, “Ok, well, we’ll save it for the next album”
Rainer: I really don’t want to interrupt you talking, Ray, but I’d like to have … to take a few pictures of you, if you don’t mind, before it’s getting too
dark. Is that possible?
Ray: I’ve got some great photos for you, I guess you want to use them for the fan magazine? I’ve got some wonderful photos, man, I just had a photo
session done, if you want to take those instead.
Dorothy: I don’t think those are the right style for the Doors Quarterly.
Ray: The Doors Quarterly? Probably not …
Rainer: Well, honestly, I’d like to take some myself. Just two or three.
Ray: Alright, alright. Ok, yeah.
Rainer: Before it’s getting too dark, you know.
Ray: Alright. I’ve got my appropriate religious garb on (laughs).
Rainer: I don’t have a flash with me, that’s why I’m …
Ray: Good. And I’m shaved, too. Do you wanna go outside?
Rainer: Yes, sure.
Ray: Ok.
  We walked outside into their garden. It was a surprisingly small garden, but it was full of beautiful plants with huge leaves, a lot of tropical
red and pink blossoms on other plants and it also had a nice crystal-blue swimming pool. I took a few photos of Ray. ”Don’t I look too
religious with that shirt?”, he asked. “No”, I said, “its black color is a nice contrast to those red and green plants over here, and the pool is
a kind of perfect background.” Right after the session we went back into the house, sat down again and Ray pointed to a strange musical
instrument in a corner of the living-room.
Ray Manzarek.
Photo © Rainer Moddemann/The Doors Quarterly Magazine
Ray: Well, now we’re sitting here talking. This is my … this is fun. This is a didgeridoo, this is from Australia. It’s very hard to play. I saw a guy
playing and he never took a breath. I saw an Aborigine playing, I couldn’t believe it.
Rainer: Do you know how to play it?
Ray: Not really. You breathe in one nostril, I guess you’re taking air in and blowing out at the same time. Don’t know how they do that.
Rainer: Do you play any other instruments than keyboards, bass or rhythm guitar?
Ray: No, just keyboards. Keyboards and all kinds of little, you know, little hand-percussion stuff, I can do that. It’s a pity, I don’t do that nearly
as well as Pablo does.
Rainer: Doing percussion is getting pretty easy, you know, with all those digital …
Ray: Yeah, of course. Yeah, that’s … yeah, right. That was all made for keyboard players. Right, drummers hate that stuff, because, you know,
guys don’t have to play … don’t play the drums anymore. “I spent my life learning how to develop my wrists”, you know, and then you don’t
need your wrists anymore. Play it like, ah, with your little fingers.
Rainer: The piano you used on the songs ‘Love Her Madly’ and ‘L.A. Woman’, I mean, was it a Wurlitzer as well?
Ray: Ah, (sings) “Don’t you love her madly” … A piano on ‘Love Her Madly’, now, Wurlitzer, either a Wurlitzer or a tack piano, I don’t know which.
Rainer: In the song ‘Been Down So Long’ there’s no keyboards, but three guitars. Did you play one of them?
Ray: Right, right. I played one of the guitars. I played the little … I played a little Blues-line in there. It was in “e”; the only key I can play the
guitar in is the key “e”. “e”, “a” and “b”, you know, so that I could play a couple of little Blues things. So I’m the guy who’s playing the …,
well it’s …, I’d have to point it out to you. But, yeah, I played guitar on that. It’s about the last time I think I ever played the guitar, too, as
a matter of fact. I don’t think I played the guitar since
Rainer: I guess you also played the tabla on ‘Riders On The Storm’, didn’t you?
Ray: Ah, conga, conga-drums.
Rainer: Conga, ok. It can be heard on the Quadrophonic vinyl version of ‘The Best Of The Doors’ pretty well, better than on ‘L.A. Woman’.
Ray: Ah, good!
Rainer: So it was mixed off the version on ‘L.A. Woman’?
Ray: No, it’s in there.
Rainer: Yeah, but very, very low. How did …, well, I haven’t talked to John yet, because, you know, he is on honeymoon right now.
Ray: He is! John just got married again.
Rainer: Who did he marry?
Ray: I don’t know.
Rainer: You don’t know (laughs)?
Ray: A woman (laughs).
Rainer: Well, yeah, obviously.
Ray: A very lovely … a very lovely woman.
Rainer: Good. Talking about drums … do you remember how John changed the sound of his drums on ‘The Wasp’? Did he use any synthesizers?
Ray: On the drums? On John’s drums? Yeah, he used an Oberheim phase shifter, and they ran the drums through that phase shifter. No, no, no,
a ring modulator, I’m sorry. A ring modulator, Oberheim’s ring modulator. And that’s what it is.
Rainer: Which songs on the ‘L.A. Woman’ album were … ah, were written for the album itself, except ‘Crawling King Snake’, that was an old one.
Ray: Yes, that’s an old Blues song. Everything else.
Rainer: Really?
Ray: Yeah. Everything else was written for the album.
Rainer: Do you remember which songs you guys played at your very last concert in New Orleans? Perhaps ‘Riders On The Storm’?
Ray: Aha, no. We may have played that. The night before we played in, ah, Houston or Dallas, somewhere in Texas, a city in Texas and then in
New Orleans, and in Houston or Dallas, whichever city it was in Texas, we did ‘L.A. Woman’. We played ‘L.A. Woman’ and we played ‘Riders
On The Storm’. Yes, as a matter of fact, either … I think we did both of them. And ‘Riders On The Storm’ was great. Oh God, it was good!
Rainer: I can imagine …
Ray: We really … Vince, Vince Treanor, had never heard the song before, and after we … and we really just locked into the song and played it
beautifully, spookily, wonderfully, and ah, you know, we all just grinned at each other after the song was finished because we knew … we knew
we had the song and the song was great and we played it great and it just felt so good to play a new song like that for an audience. And after
the set Vince Treanor came up to me and he said in his Boston accent, “Ray, Ray, what was that song? What is that song, though? The riders,
what’s … what is that … I’ve never heard that!”, and he was just gushing over the song, he loved the song, ‘n I said, “That’s for the new album,
Vince. ‘Riders On The Storm’”.’ He said, “I love that song, Oh, Ray, Ray,…” and you knew he loved it because he took my arm and he said,
“Ray, Ray, what a song!” “Ok, Vince, I got it, man, I mean I love it, too, right, man, ok!”
(laughs). Vince was great, he’d get very emotional
when something really struck him the right way.
He was a very emotional person, otherwise he was all business, and, you know, New-England-American, very serious and down to earth, but
boy, when something struck him the right way he was a very passionate guy. And ‘Riders On The Storm’ was just brilliant that night. And then
the next or two nights later, whatever it was, was New Orleans, and I really don’t remember anything about New Orleans except thinking that
Jim had left the stage, and thinking it was in the middle of a song, and in ‘Light My Fire’ Jim would sometimes leave the stage, sit down, have
a beer, he’s got, you know, my solo and Robby’s solo, so Jim had plenty of time to take a break and relax, and a lot of times he would pick up
a maraca and play, leave the microphone, you knew he was going to do that, but in this particular – I forget which song it was – Jim had left the
stage, had left. The microphone was no longer there, and I had my head down. When I play I keep my head down and just play the music, and
Jim is to the front of the stage to my right, Robby is directly across from me and John is to my left. And Jim, as I had my head down listening to
everything and playing, and Jim was gone! And I looked up … and he was standing at the microphone. He had not left the stage. And at that
point I knew that something tragic, something serious had happened. I had never felt Jim’s energy disappear like that before. And, ah, that was
the … that was the last time we ever played together on stage.
Rainer: Oh, what an eerie experience this must have been for you, Ray.
Ray: I tell you man, eerie!
Rainer: You guys did a couple of songs that – originally – did not appear on any album, ‘Don’t Go No Further’ was one of them.
Ray: Oh, that was one of the old Chicago Blues songs from the Rick & The Ravens days.
Rainer: Jim is singing in the background.
Ray: Yeah, that was … that’s one of the songs we used to do at the London Fog. Those endless sets.
Rainer: It sounds like a kind of session. Was it recorded at the workshop?
Ray: I don’t … Yeah, ah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rainer: Good. Let’s talk about the LP ‘Other Voices’, The Doors after Morrison, I really like that album.
Ray: Thank you. Not bad. Came out pretty good.
Rainer: Yeah. To every song written for the album, you know, it notes “Krieger, Densmore, Manzarek” as composers. Now, exactly, who wrote the
songs, the music, who wrote the lyrics? What was your part to writing the songs?
Ray: Aaah, well, let’s see. I forget what the hell is on the album. You have a list of songs that are on the album?
Rainer: Yeah, I think so … this here … (I am busy searching through my bag) here’s a songbook … (Ray starts checking the book)
Ray: You know, in the situation of The Doors you just write, you know, who … it’s more like who has the initial idea, who brings in the initial idea,
and then The Doors go into the … oh, it is right here. ‘In The Eye Of The Sun’ I wrote, ‘Variety Is The Spice Of Life’ Robby wrote, ‘Ships
With Sails’ Krieger and Densmore wrote, ah, basically Robby’s song,
(sings) “And that’s how much I love you, dadaddd”, ‘Tightrope Ride’
Robby and I wrote that, I wrote the lyrics for that, then Robby worked on “dddda” the chord changes, ‘Down On The Farm’, ‘I’m Horny, I’m
Stoned’, right, ‘Wandering Musician’, ‘Hang On To Your life’ Robby and I, yeah, that’s correct. I wrote the lyrics for ‘Hang On To Your Life’,
and then Robby wrote those other ones, yeah, that’s right. And ‘Get Up And Dance’ Manzarek and Krieger, right, I wrote the words and some
of the music, and Robby wrote the rest of the music. ‘Verdillac’
(sings) “around your neck like a Verdillac” Robby wrote … that’s Robby’s
words and I forget what I did on that, some of the music. ‘Hardwood Floor’, ‘Good Rockin’’ somebody else, ‘Mosquito’ we all wrote that,
that’s an instrumental, ‘Piano Bird’ John Densmore worked on that one, that’s his with Jack Conrad. ‘The Peking King And The New York
Queen’ I wrote, ‘It Slipped My mind’, that’s Robby’s song. Yeah, that’s correct, that’s all correct.
Rainer: Good to know.
Ray: Good? I’m glad something’s correct.
Rainer: … as long as everything’s correct, yeah …
Ray: Good!
Rainer: This book is one of those not-licensed songbooks …
Ray: Yeah, right.
Rainer: … which came out some time ago …
Ray: Yeah, right, right. Good.
Rainer: Somebody was trying, you know, to put down all the lyrics correctly.
Ray: Yeah, that’s a hard … that’s got to be a hard part. Most of the lyrics are pretty good.
Rainer: What about the official songbooks – didn’t you guys take care of, you know, how they reproduced the lyrics?
Ray: Oh, man!
Rainer: Quite a few mistakes in there.
Ray: Some of a couple of terrible mistakes, aren’t there?
Rainer: Unfortunately yes, there are.
Ray: Boy, oh boy, oh boy. Yeah, you do go over all that stuff. I don’t know what happens, you know. I must say it’s notorious … lyrics are
notoriously wrong in published lyrics. You think the lyrics are bad. Then you should have been playing the piano back in the 50ies and early
60ies buying sheet-music. You’d go into a store and buy sheet-music and you’d go, “Holy cow, what is … this is really wrong!”, you know,
but in a way that’s good, because it makes you either make up your own, your own words, your own interpretation or certainly from a
musician’s point of view. You have to figure the chords out to try to find the right chord. It’s … this is notorious, these things are notoriously
wrong, you know, it’s been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years now.
Rainer: Look up the song ‘The Peking King And The New York Queen’, must be in there somewhere.
Ray: 88, page 88, ‘Hardwood Floor’ … it should be here somewhere. “Take three, rockin’,alright, alright, alright, alright, yeah!”. Here it is, yeah.
Rainer: At the end of the song you say something like, “It’s an altenner boy”?
Ray: Oh, God, look at that, “alchemical”. We’re invited to a wedding of the sun and the moon. An “alchemical” wedding.
Rainer: Alchemical?
Ray: Alchemical wedding. Right.
Rainer: That’s what’s wrong there.
Ray: Right. An “altenner”? No, I would never say anything that didn’t make any sense, hopefully. What’s the alchemical – it’s an alchemical wedding.
That’s what the whole point of ‘The Peking King And The New York Queen’ is; it’s a merging of the east and the west, and alchemical, you know,
Rainer: Sure. And this one here, is this correct? “You knew too much, Van Helsing”? From Bram Stoker’s book?
Ray: Yes, that’s correct. That’s from Dracula, that’s the movie. Van Helsing is the professor who knows that Dracula is actually … Count Dracula
is actually the vampire. “You knew too much, Van Helsing”, right.
Rainer: Who came up with this east-west dialogue in ‘The Peking King And The New York Queen’?
Ray: Me.
Rainer: What language is it?
Ray: Hopefully English (laughs).
Rainer: No, it isn’t, it doesn’t sound like that, some Vietnamese? Sounds like Vietnamese people talking.
Ray: Right, right.
Rainer: I have played this to a guy from Vietnam, and he sort of thought it could be from Korea, but he wasn’t sure and said it also could be some
Indian dialect or something …
Ray: Oh, good (laughs). Who knows. It’s from the unconscious, it’s … what it is … it’s talking in tongues. What the born-agains do, they talk in
tongues, it’s babbling, it’s not talking, it’s babbling in tongues.
Rainer: Right …
Ray: Yes. Ah yeah, when Jim went off to Paris, John, Robby and I were working on songs at the, you know, rehearsing.
Rainer: Did Jim know about that?
Ray: Did Jim know we were working on songs?
Rainer: John says Jim didn’t know.
Ray: I don’t know. I never talked to Jim when he was in Paris. I don’t think Jim was … I don’t know. Anyway, gosh, ‘Get Up And Dance’, yeah,
we were working on songs, you know, I’d say the first, you know, maybe four or five of the songs, six songs from ‘Other Voices’ were songs
that we were working on. Certainly ‘Ships With Sails’, you know, that was … Jim was supposed to sing that. ‘Tightrope Ride’ was after he
died. Quite a few of the songs, yeah, were just songs that we were rehearsing, waiting, you know. “Well, let’s all get together”, John, Robby
and I would get together at the office, you know, two or three times a week, and just work out … start working on some songs and assuming
that Jim would return somewhere within the next … I suppose everyone felt within the next six months, you know. Certainly he’d stay longer
than three months. When he left for Paris he said, “I don’t know how long I’ll stay.” We all said, “Well, how long are you’re gonna go over
there?” “I don’t know.” “Well, stay, relax, take it easy, you know. Six months, a year, whatever, just relax, take it easy, go, enjoy yourself.
Write, compile your notes.” He had all those notes from Miami, and he was going to write the book ‘Observations On America While On
Trial For Obscenity In Miami’. And that would have been great. That was like the French guy Alexis De Tocqueville who came to America
and wrote ‘Democracy In America’ … I was really looking forward to Jim, ah, to Jim’s comments on what it meant to be an American, you
know, ‘cause he was so wonderful with the way he could write about America, he had such insight, so … that he was going to be working on
that, and, you know, just hopefully getting away from everything, getting away from, you know, from Rock ’n’ Roll, from the pressures of
stardom, from all his drinking buddies, all those guys he would go out and get just too drunk with, Tom Baker, etc. ,etc. And so we assumed
that he’d be gone probably six months, but in the meantime, well, let’s work on some songs. And that’s what we were doing; John Robby
and I were just putting songs together.
Rainer: Pamela died only a couple of years after Jim. Do you know where she’s buried?
Ray: Yes, she’s in, ah, she’s here in Forest Lawn, out in Burbank, Forest Lawn, the big Forest Lawn, the main. They have a couple of old branches,
but it’s the main Forest Lawn in Burbank.
Rainer: First, way back in 1974, you said in an interview you hoped they would put her in the same grave as Jim. Why didn’t that happen?
Ray: Well, that … I don’t know. I’d heard that what was going to happen was Pamela was going to be cremated, and I assume she was cremated,
and then her ashes were going to be taken to Paris and buried with Jim. I have no idea. I have no idea. I have no idea why there’s no marker
on Jim’s grave. I have no idea
(laughs). We tried to, but we are not allowed to. The Doors are not allowed to. We’re not the next of kin. The
next … and we’ve talked to, you know, some people and said, “Can we …, you know, we’ll pay for it. Can we …?” And they said we were not
allowed to.
Ray Manzarek at Père Lachaise - July 3, 1981.
Photo © Rainer Moddemann/The Doors Quarterly Magazine
Rainer: The grave is in a terrible state I must tell you.
Ray: Yeah.
Rainer: It’s horrible.
Ray: Yeah, right, really horrible. Yeah, I know. It’s dreadful.
Rainer: A friend of mine lives there in Paris, her name is Michelle Campbell, and she’s a photographer, and she gave me some pictures taken at Jim’s
grave, now these are recent photos. Look at what people are doing there …
  I am showing Ray some of Michelle’s black and white photos. He looks at some pictures and is disgusted.
Ray: What the fuck … Ok, well, you know what?
Rainer: It’s getting weird there, you know.
Ray: Ok, you know what’s going on right now? This is … what’s gonna happen right now and for the next year or two years Jim is going to undergo
a period of great modification in which Jim Morrison is going to be vilified by a lot of people.
Rainer: Some will claim to be his friends.
Ray: Some will claim to be his friends, and some will claim to be his lovers, and there is going to be a great, a great trial for Jim Morrison to go
through for the next two years in which all of Jim’s weaknesses will be brought to light. As if that’s important. The man was an artist, the man
was a poet. The man was a poet, musician, singer. Say, it’s like Nietzsche had his weaknesses, artists have their weaknesses, all human beings
have their weaknesses. Jim is now going to have to go through a period of exposure of all of his weaknesses, all of his flaws, and all of his faults.
  I am pointing to a guy in one of the photos. It is Danny Sugerman.
Danny Sugerman at Père Lachaise - 1990.
Photo © Michelle Campbell
Rainer: You know him.
Ray: That’s the guy. Yeah, Danny was over there and asked about, yeah, and, right, and asked about getting … what we had to do to get a marker or
to get a, well, what we wanna do is get a granite, four sided tombstone, a granite slab, put on the top of it with a couple of lines of Jim’s poetry,
you know, James Douglas Morrison, his date of birth, date of death, and a couple of lines of poetry going around a granite pomp rectangle with
the top on it. And we can’t do that, that has to be handled by his next of kin.
Rainer: There’s been such a beautiful bust there …
Ray: Yeah! Wasn’t it great? That looked really good, man, that was really good, because I’ve seen so many of those things. People do drawings of
Jim, and most of them are like … you know, but that one was amazing!
  While talking Ray is still checking Michelle’s photos from the gravesite. He points to one of them showing a girl pulling her shirt up showing
her bare breasts.
Photo © Michelle Campbell
Ray: This is ridiculous. Ok, so what’s gonna happen is that Jim has to go through a very dark period in which people are … there’s gonna be something
obscene about what’s going on now with Jim. It’s gonna go on for the next two years, but then it’ll be over with. It’s a period of darkness, a period
of vilification, a vile period in which Jim is going to be portrayed as a hedonistic, sensual, evil person, and it’s … I don’t know why it’s going on,
but, man, it’s happening.
Rainer: Is this attended by Oliver Stone’s movie?
Ray: I can’t comment on the movie. I haven’t seen the movie. However, I did read the script. I have no association with the movie.
Rainer: I know it was you who always wanted to do a movie on The Doors.
Ray: Yes, ironic, isn’t it? Yes. So the state of his grave is a reflection at this particular time of the state of perception of what poor Jim is gonna have
to go through now. And he’s going to be … even his poetry is going to be vilified. I think there’s a book coming out by the guy who wrote the
James Dean … there’s gonna be a lot of books coming out, and I’m not happy with what’s going to happen in the next two years, but Dionysus
will not be denied. The dying and resurrecting God, Osiris, always comes back. The power of the primordial power of the earth and Jim Morrison,
he’ll be back. And you will accept him. I think what’s going on is that people think of Jim Morrison almost as a God now. He’s a man, he’s a man,
and he has all the weaknesses. Sex, drugs and Doors. Sex, drugs and Doors. See, that’s the interpretation. Jim Morrison is not at this particular
time being interpreted on a cosmic level. The philosophy and the cosmology of The Doors as … with times we live in there is no philosophy. The
only philosophy that we have is greed. ‘I was stoned on your grave’. Greed, the greed has permitted the land. And Jim Morrison is now going to
be interpreted on a strictly Freudian level.
Rainer: Yeah, it is definitely true.
Ray: Is, what’s going to go on, and we are going to have Freudian interpretations of Jim Morrison on the basest level.
  I am pointing to one of Michelle’s photos showing people drinking alcohol and partying at Jim’s grave.
Photo © Michelle Campbell
Rainer: People want that, you know, look at the guys over there in this photo. They came over to party at his grave, to get drunk and consume drugs.
Ray: He would dig it. This grave is alive.
Rainer: Alive? Yes, it is.
Ray: It’s a living … there are two graves that have this kind of activity. One is Jack Kerouac’s in … where is he buried … in Lowell, Massachusetts,
and Jim Morrison’s. Where people come and drink. God, think of that, that’s all there is, ha, this thing here, huh, man!
  Ray is commenting about a photo of the bust as it looked before it got stolen.
Rainer: Yeah, that how it looked like some time ago, they cut off his nose, the nose of the bust, and they cut off the ears, you know, they cut off parts of
his hair, they painted the bust …
Ray: Yeah, I saw that, that was terrible.
Rainer: Two years ago it was stolen by some, you know, chaps.
Ray: Yeah. They actually stole the whole damn thing.
Rainer: Well, they took it away on a motorbike, although it was so heavy.
Ray: This period, this is the tribulation, this is the trial, the trial and triviality of a prophet, you know. And the only thing he was prophesying was not …
not his Godness, but the Godness of all of us. Of all humanity. Of every human being … this guy … and we each have to realize our own, the fact
that we are all God, and that we can all emulate the brilliance of Jim Morrison without falling prey to the excess of Jim Morrison that ultimately,
unfortunately killed Jim. But as an artist, you know, people don’t even know his words.
Rainer: That’s true.
Ray: Let’s have, let’s have … what do the words mean, first of all, you gotta know the words and then you wonder, “Jesus Christ, this is insane”.
Rainer: These photos make me so sad, you know, I knew the grave from the very beginning on. The first time I went there was in 1973, you know, I’ve
seen all the changes there. You know, Paris is not far from where I live, about a 5-hour-drive by car. Sometimes I used to go there just for a day …
  Ray puts his finger on a photo showing the painted bust, a fan with a hat on is standing next to it.
Ray: Ok, this is the Jim Morrison, this guy with this hat on. That Jim Morrison is the Jim Morrison that everyone wants to examine in the next two
years. Man, these books are gonna come out. What a strange time The Doors are going to enter!

(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.