Ray Manzarek Interview

November 1989 by Rainer Moddemann

Rainer: Do you have any suggestions for the book I am writing? Anything I could use as a foreword?
Ray: Aah, just be as, you know, be as profound as you can be, you know, write for the ages, you know, write for the ages, don’t write for today’s
market. Don’t write … don’t be colored, don’t let your writing and your interpretation of Jim be colored by the negativity that this entire
planet is undergoing right now.
Rainer: That's exactly what I want to avoid.
My book on The Doors. Ray signed it to me when I visited him a year later.
Photo Rainer Moddemann
Ray: Yeah, Write … write for the ages, because two or three years from now we begin another cycle. Another cycle’s got to begin, you know. Here in
California we had a big election two or three weeks ago, and there was a Proposition 128, it was called “Big Green”, and it was an environmental,
ecological proposition that was going to just stop the polluters, stop the cutting of the forests, stop the pollution of the rivers, stop poisons of sprays
and artificial chemicals and pesticides being put on the ground – it lost! 2 to 1, it lost 66% to 33%! Overwhelmingly, that’s a huge defeat. It was
defeated. And all it had to do with was cleaning up our environment here in California. We in California said, ‘No, we don’t want this. We do … we
will vote against this.’ So, there is this madness up loose upon the land, and perhaps upon the globe in which, we’re coming to the millennium, too,
you know, it’s the end of the year 2000. A thousand years ago they thought the Apocalypse was coming. 990 in that era, in that … 1000 years ago it …
Rainer: Nostradamus, yes.
Ray: … it was the end, Jesus was coming again, the 2nd coming was going to happen, it was imminent. And people were just going crazy, because it was
going to be the end of the world. Well, we’re coming right now to the same sort of end, except what we’re coming to is the end of … the end of the
organized Christian religion, that’s what we’re coming to. The message of Jesus is the same message as Jim Morrison, Love! Love! Love is the
answer. What did Jim say? Love is the … (sings) love is the answer. Love hides in mysterious places, love hides behind the rainbow, love hides in
molecular structures, love is the answer. Jesus, Dionysis, here we have to give Dionysis his due, the dying and the resurrecting God, Osiris, the
Egyptians, the ancient Egyptian God, Osiris. It’s the same tradition, it … you can smash it, you can push it down, but invariably it comes back.
The power of the earth comes back. And what is that power? It’s the power of love. And that’s what Morrison was all about. Although everyone
would say, “Ray, that’s ridiculous, ‘cause that’s not …”.
Rainer: I think it’s because of the way he sometimes behaved in public?
Ray: … the way he behaved, the way he’s perceived as behaving, o.k., the man was a wild artist, he was an artist. In his art is Jim Morrison, Jim
Morrison in his words and in his music. That’s the real Jim Morrison. Jim Morrison became intoxicated by success, and ultimately success
and fame killed Jim Morrison, and that’s the tragedy. The tragedy is that he died so young. The great joy is that he created the body of work
that he created. That will always stay with us. The music, the words, we have his images, we’ve got, you know, we have The Doors in … on
film, so that we will always be there. The power of what The Doors created will always be there.
Rainer: Hopefully, interesting, yeah.
Ray: But man, look out. Did you read the Val Kilmer interview? In “Interview” magazine?
Rainer: I bought it today but haven’t read it yet.
Ray: O.K. “Interview” magazine and another one called “Exposure” … an interesting article about Jim is in “Exposure” and Val Kilmer is in
that magazine, too.
Rainer: And what does he say?
Ray: Read, read between the lines. Put your philosophical and psychological cap on when you read these interviews with the guy who’s playing
Jim Morrison.
Rainer: I’ll certainly do. I’ve got a few other questions, Ray.
Ray: Go ahead, sure.
Rainer: Can I ask for a few persons, a few names, and you just tell me, you know, a few comments on them? Let’s start with John Haeny.
Ray: Engineer on the “An American Prayer” album, excellent engineer, very intellectual, well-read, very sensitive man, was a pleasure to work with.
He was able to keep his focus through the whole thing, which was very difficult, because it was a lengthy process and he was able to keep this
focus, and I think he did a very, very nice job. And he really got into the spirit of Jim’s poetry, and was a pleasure to work with.
Rainer: Craig Strete.
Ray: Aehm, never knew, you know, if he knew Jim Morrison. I don’t know Craig Strete, I never saw Craig Strete, never met him. He’s a person who,
you know, jumped onto the band wagon for “Burn Down The Night”. Get out of here, get off, get out. You know how much money he got for that
book? It was an unbelievable amount of money at that time, I mean it was ridiculous, it’s absolutely … it’s totally ridiculous.
Rainer: Yes, I’ve heard about that, unbelievable. Some people did some research, you know, on the book, and found out that he, you know, all his stories
were taken from Doors songs or from poems and other stuff that Jim had written, you know.
Ray: Yeah, yeah. He made up his own, and as a kid who,  … you know …
Rainer: Pure fantasy.
Ray: Right, pure fantasy, exactly. I don’t know that he ever knew Jim. Maybe he met Jim, you know, Jim met a lot of people. He might have had a
couple of drinks with Jim here and there, and they might have hung out together for an hour, a day, a week, so what, you know. But … that’s
totally absurd.
Rainer: Frank Lisciandro.
Ray: Frank is a UCLA graduate film school buddy of mine and Dorothy, and Frank and Kathy and I, we had our first acid trips together with Frank
and Kathy, and we used to be very good friends, and I don’t see … I haven’t seen France since he sued … he sued The Doors, he didn’t sue
The Doors, he sued Danny for using some of his photos in “No One Here Gets Out Alive”. But I assumed that since Frank worked as The
Doors’ photographer, that The Doors owned the photos and that it were … the photos that Elektra Records had used, the four individual shots
of The Doors in “The Soft Parade” …
Dorothy: It was technicality …
Ray: It was a technicality …
Dorothy: … which he used to benefit himself.
Ray: And he sued The Doors, right. And Frank and I are no longer on speaking terms, and I have nothing to do with Frank Lisciandro. And, ah, I
guess, I don’t know, you know, Frank is a real good guy, but I don’t … I’m not sure whether or not one would classify him as one of Jim’s
drinking buddies. And Jim’s drinking buddies …
Dorothy: Certainly not Jim’s best friends.
Rainer: That’s written in the book, too.
Ray: Yeah.
Dorothy: Sure, if he says, “Well, I was Jim’s best friend”, somebody else comes along and says, “If he says he’s really Jim’s best friend, he must be
Jim’s best friend”.
Rainer: Or whatever you call ‘best friend’.
Dorothy: After three times, that’s Jim’s best friend!
Rainer: But who was Jim’s ‘best friend’? Babe Hill?
Ray: I would say Babe, yeah. I would think that, you know, if anybody had the right to say he was Jim’s best friend, as if that mattered, I would say
that Babe Hill should claim this. You know Babe and Jim were best friends, you know. So anyway, Frank sued Danny over the four photos that
were used in the inside of “The Soft Parade”, and due to a technicality, ah, …
Dorothy: You wanna tell Rainer what the technicality is?
Ray: The technicality is that Frank worked for The Doors as did Kathy. Kathy was The Doors’ secretary, and …
Rainer: Yeah. I met you guys in Hamburg in 1978 when you did your promotion tour for “Prayer”, and Frank was with you and worked for you …
Ray: Right, right, right, … for “An American Prayer”, yeah, right. And Frank worked on “An American Prayer”, but then something got the better of
him and just got he had to sue Danny over that book, and I don’t know why. The technicality was that we didn’t buy the film and pay for the
Dorothy: Except I think that The Doors did, in fact.
Ray: The Doors did buy the film, because …
Dorothy: … because the money obviously came from petty cash.
Ray: … it all came out from petty cash. We had a petty cash in Kathy’s drawer, and if a roll of film was a buck, two bucks in 68 – 69 – 70 – 71,
whatever, two bucks …
Dorothy: They said you had no receipt saying, “The Doors”.
Ray: There were no receipts, and we did not - technically speaking - say, “That film is purchased by The Doors, we want a receipt for that, we own
those photographs. You work for The Doors as The Doors’ photographer, you do not own the photographs, we own the photographs.” So when
I read the legal brief I was outraged. I was absolutely outraged. “You didn’t pay”, - didn’t pay, man, we paid this guy an enormous salary, we
paid Kathy an enormous salary, we took them on the road, we … you know, “It’s Christmas time, here’s your Christmas present, how about a
television set, a great big T.V. Set, not a box of candy or something, give them a big present”. These were our friends, these were our psychedelic
friends, and then for Frank to come back with that “I own the photographs”, well,  fine, I mean the photographs aren’t any good anyway, quite
frankly, ah, Frank wanted to sell us his photographs, and he wanted $25.000 for them, and John Densmore said, “Gee, that’s great, man, what is
that? 5.000 dollars per usable photograph”, out of a group of 150 photographs. You get the point? The point is that the photographs were unusable
except for … so anyway, that’s my relationship with Frank Lisciandro, we don’t have any relationship anymore. After that lawsuit I said, “I’m
sorry, man, I can’t, you know, …”
Rainer: What about Dennis Jacob?
Ray: Dennis … Dennis was Jim’s, ah, Jim lived up on his rooftop, ah, before Jim came down on the beach to meet me when I said to him, “Where are
you living”, back in ’65, summer of ’65, and he said, “I’m living on Dennis’ rooftop”, …
Rainer: That’s where he wrote some of his early songs …
Ray: Right. And, “What have you been doing?” “I’ve been writing songs.” And I said, “Well, come on, you don’t have to live with Dennis anymore,
you can, you know, we’re gonna set … we’re gonna get this band going, so you’d go on and you live with us, man, you don’t have to live outside.”
And, you know, “I live on a rooftop”, “Come on, get your stuff, pack up, you’re moving in with me and Dorothy.”
  Meanwhile Pooti the parrot had continued walking across the floor, eating peanuts and climbing onto Dorothy’s arm where he had been resting
for more than half an hour. Then all of the sudden he decided to jump onto the table and walk straight forward into my direction again. He bowed
his head and looked at some sheets of paper with my notes lying next to me.
Ray: (commenting on Pooti): He loves to eat paper, actually, especially when it’s important. If you’ve got anything written on it he’ll eat it, he’ll tear
it up, man.
  I quickly hid the paper sheets behind my tape recorder. Ray smiled at Pooti who jumped down on the floor again.
Ray: And Dennis, ah, Dennis has since gone mad.
Dorothy: I think he’s in an insane asylum, isn’t he?
Ray: Right. Dennis has … Dennis was a brilliant mind from UCLA, he was a brilliant, but the center would not hold, and ultimately Dennis had this,
has gone mad.
Rainer: What about the relationship between you and Danny?
Ray: Goes way back! (laughs)
Rainer: Yeah, I know, I know.
Rainer Moddemann and Danny Sugerman - July, 1989.
Photo Rainer Moddemann
Ray: It goes way back. All the way back to when I quit the Doors. When we were in England, and, ah, when we were in England and Dorothy was
pregnant, and John and Robby said, “We think it ought to be Hard Rock”, and I said, “No, I think it ought to be Jazz”, and two days later I
said, “I quit”. And we came back to the States, and it was time to put The Doors to bed anyway, The Doors had finished themselves up.
Time to close The Doors, you know, two albums without Jim was enough, that was enough. And, you know, we all mutually agreed that that
was enough. Aah, and Danny was at The Doors' office, and, I went back to The Doors' office, and Danny and I talked and started thinking
about music and life and who The Doors were and what The Doors were all about and what Jim Morrison was, and we agreed on the fact
that The Doors' music was exceptional and Jim Morrison was an exceptional poet. And Danny went to work for me as a publicist at that
time, and we've been working together and he works for The Doors, and he's been … we've been together ever since. And, you know,
he's … he loves Jim. He loves Jim, understands Jim, and, you know, he's …
Rainer: … he's a good publicist, you know, …
Ray: He's a great publicist.
Rainer: The work he did on 'The Illustrated History', you know, that's amazing. Really.
Ray: Yeah, yeah. As a publicist he's absolutely topnotch, and he's done a wonderful job, you know, The Doors are, ah, well, we're talking about
The Doors today, you know, if it hadn't have been for somebody, for Danny or somebody very much like Danny handling that function, I
certainly couldn't have done it, and John and Robby couldn't have done it, the three of us could not have worked with the press, and worked
with MCA Video, and worked with the people at Elektra to keep The Doors' catalog in print and all those things that had to be done. And
Danny was very very good at doing all of that kind of business legwork that had to be done to keep The Doors alive.
Rainer: I forgot to ask you about the films you did at the UCLA. There was one called 'Evergreen' …
Ray: 'Evergreen' and 'Induction'. Right. And then I did a design, a short design film called 'Who and where I live'. I don't think that exists anymore,
but the other two … the other two films are still over at UCLA. They show them in, you know, student classes and stuff and say, you know,
“This guy is from The Doors. Here is his student movie”. And Jim's movie doesn't exist anymore either.
Rainer: What was this all about?
Ray: Jim's movie? Aah, a juxtaposition of images, an interesting collage of visual images that didn't necessarily have anything to do with each other,
but went together to make up a very poetic sort of statement. And it was, you know, youthful rebellion - a girl standing in ... a girl standing in her
underwear dancing on top of the television set, long black garters, actually a German girl, Elke, and she's up there, John DeBella's film school
buddy, John DeBella's girlfriend, and they're shooting and she's on top of the TV, dancing on the TV the best she can. And Jim said, “Quick!
Turn the TV on, then I'll see what images we get!” He turns the TV on and it was … what comes on the TV? Leni Riefenstahl's 'Triumph of the
Will'. Can you believe it? What? Pure serendipity, pure chance, just boom! It came on the TV set. (laughs) So there is this beautiful German girl
dancing in her underwear, long black stockings, bra and panties, that's one image. Another image is throwing darts at an upside-down Playboy
Bunny, and with the light coming from the sides so as each dart hits the shadow went off to the side and you couldn't tell which dimension you were
in, and then there was a bunch of guys getting high, and the final image is of Jim with a huge joint, just taking a hit of a big joint and rolling his eyes,
and then I think there was another shot of an explosion. And there were a lot of other things , too, with a very strange soundtrack, a sort of industrial
kind of soundtrack, and I can't remember what exactly was in the soundtrack. Anyway, that was Jim's movie, it was poetry, it was a poetic, a poetic
movie. It had nothing to do linear cinema, story-telling cinema, characters acting, it was just … it was poetry. And the teachers hated it, of course.
(laughs) It was good, it was really quite good, I liked it, a lot of people liked it, but the teachers hated this piece. “That's not the kind of films we're
making here, Mr Morrison.” But it was Jim, it was … it was outrageous, it was absolutely outrageous, it was …
Dorothy: Well, it didn't go through the projector either – it was really bad.
Ray: Right. Technically he wasn't able to make good splices. He had no technical facility that way. And the sticky stuff would stick to the splicing tape.
Dorothy: He had to go back and re-splice it. And then they ran it again and went through it the second time, still hated it.
Ray: He really, he was not too happy with the response to his film, but, you know, I mean, the people that he liked, his friends and the people that
knew him, you know, to the man liked the movie. Everyone said, “Ay, good, man, good.” You know, I told him, “Ay, that is, that's terrific, it's
terrific. It's very poetic and very artistic. And very good.”
Rainer: Does the same go for 'HWY', the movie everybody wishes to own?
Ray: No, that is, that's cannabinol, yeah, that was, that was done under the influence of cannabinol, and the first five minutes – and liquor – and the
first five minutes are good. That's what they set out to shoot, but, ah, Paul Ferrara shot that, and then afterwards it just sort of degenerated
into drunken guys coming back into Los Angeles and shooting everything, and being high on cannabinol, some kind of marijuana pill of some
sort, I have no idea exactly what it was, and it's not really a very good film. But there are some interesting scenes in it, especially the first five
minutes. The first five minutes are very good.
Rainer: I haven't watched it yet. (Annotation: I couldn't tell Ray that I actually had already got a VCR tape with the full movie the night before the
interview and promised not to tell anybody, including Ray.)
Ray: Yeah.  Well, you may never. It belongs to the estate, I have no access to it. I would love to get my hands on the first five minutes of it, at least,
and definitely put that into a video. 'Cos that's what they went out to shoot. “Let's go to the desert and shoot, and here's …”. This is what they
had in mind, and Jim coming out of the wadi, down the hill, that was in Palm Springs, and hitchhiking on the freeway. “We'll get that, let's just go
out and get that”. And that's what they got. That's good, that works. Well, what time is it there? What time does it say on the TV, Rainer? Under
the …
Rainer: The time? TV? Ah, quarter to five.
Ray: Ok, quarter to five, one or two more and I gotta go and get … pump some iron.
Rainer: Ok, who was the 'Ashen Lady' in 'Roadhouse Blues'?
Ray: I have no idea, no, I have no idea.
Rainer: The same question goes for 'Maggie M'Gill'.
Ray: 'Maggie M'Gill' is a mythical character. 'Maggie M'Gill' is the mythical quintessential, the mythical woman.
Rainer: Aha, ah yeah. What's your interpretation of 'the blue bus', as a final question?
Ray: 'The blue bus', ah, I've always thought of the 'blue bus' as Jim's version of the Egyptian solar boat. The solar boat is the boat …, from 'The
Golden Scarab' it is the boat that the pharaohs and everyone, everyone else rides on through infinity, through eternity, and 'the blue bus' was
for me a vehicle that would take you on a journey, on a voyage into magical places. That's what I always thought of as 'the blue bus'. Blue,
the color blue, the heavenly blue, the morning glory, so the blue of the sky, and you're riding instead of riding a stage coach you're riding a
barque, barque of the pharaoh. Well, what do we have in contemporary society? The bus. We all, your friends get on board the bus, and we
start to drive, and eventually we elevate and the bus takes off into the cosmos.
Rainer: So it's more or less …, ah, more an image than a real bus. 'Cos I noticed there's a blue bus line from ...
Ray: … Santa Monica, right, right. I never … I don't think that has anything to do with it, although it could, you know, I mean it could be that bus.
Rainer: People like to interpret your songs …
Ray: Yeah, but it's more of a cosmic, it's a cosmic journey, and blue being the color of the cosmos out there. And then the next line is, 'driver where
are you taking us'. On a trip, man, on a voyage to some places you have never been before, and some of them are gonna be scary, some of
them are gonna be a lot of, lot of fun, like 'The Crystal Ship'. A thousand girls, a thousand thrills.
Rainer: Great and beautiful song.
Ray: Yeah. And that's where we're going. That's where Jim is now. And one of these days we'll all join him. And we'll have a big rock concert in infinity.
Rainer: Hopefully this will take a long time until that happens.
Ray: Yeah, right, exactly. Let's stretch that out as long as possible.
Rainer: I know someone who's a, you know, devoted Ray Manzarek fan. That's her (I'm showing Ray a photo of my friend Lindsey). Would you please
be so kind and sign this postcard for her?
Ray: Sure. What's her name?
Rainer: Oh, Lindsey. You know, I'm gonna mail this postcard to her.
Ray: Ok.
Rainer: She's one of your devoted fans. No photos of Jim …
Ray: What a perceptive person!
Rainer: If you don't mind, could you also sign a few album covers?
Ray: Sure. Uuh, came out in Germany! (Ray is looking at a copy of 'Nite City – Golden Days Diamond Nights')
Rainer: It did … why just in Germany?
Ray: I don't know. Is it Germans are smart? Copyright reasons I believe. Is this yours?
Rainer: Yes, it is, sure.
Ray: Sorry! Can I write it to you then?
Rainer: Yes, sure! Here are a few more. (Ray signs my 'Nite City – Golden Days Diamond Nights' to me)
Ray: Ok, I'll just sign them.
Rainer: Thanks!
Ray: Oh, look at that! (Ray is looking at his signature he has just written with my silver pen on the black cover of 'The Golden Scarab')
Rainer: Yeah, your signature looks great on this album, written with this silver pen.
Ray: Yeah, look at that! Should I put your name on?
Rainer: Oh yes, this is my copy, you know, it's a German pressing, and they used this glossy paper.
Photo Rainer Moddemann
  Ray continues signing all covers, labels and photos I had given to him. Suddenly Pootie the parrot starts walking across the table again.
Dorothy had taken care of him during our conversation.
Rainer: Is it a 'he' or a 'she'?
Dorothy: 'He'.
Rainer: You're sure?
Ray: Yeah. The color.
Dorothy: He has male colors. This particular type has, ah, … the female is colored differently from the male.
Ray: They don't have the yellow and the red, they're green, but that yellow and the red is …
Rainer: My mother had a little parrot and she always thought it was a male, you know, but one morning she found an egg inside the cage, and she
couldn't believe it. She changed the parrot's name immediately.
Dorothy: Well, actually Pootie has a girl's name. We thought he was a girl.
Ray: He does have a girl's name, we thought he was a girl at first, too.
Rainer: Really?
Ray: Yeah. Pootie, yes, you!
Dorothy: Since he can say his name it's too late to change it.
Ray: Right.
Rainer: You're almost done signing, Ray. This is my copy, please sign it to me. (I'm giving him a copy of his 12” 'The whole thing started with Rock'n
Roll now it's out of control'. He signs it to me.)
Ray: So what did you hear about the movie, man?
Rainer: Well, different things. Not that much at all, you know, everybody says different things about the movie, in a positive or negative way. Well, I
guess we should wait until it comes out.
Ray: Yeah, I guess so.
Rainer: Have you seen a rough cut of it?
Ray: No.
Rainer: No? I was trying to get Oliver on the phone, but he's not in town they said.
Ray: Lies, all lies. They're liars, he is in town. Of course I don't  know that for a fact.
Rainer: Why does he make such a total mystery out of this movie? Nobody I have talked to knows why. Usually people talk a lot before a movie comes
out. What do you think, will it get an Oscar, or will it get nominated at least?
Ray: (laughs)
Rainer: It will get nominated, don't you think so?
Ray: For what? Best picture?
Dorothy: Best costumes designing …
Rainer: Best picture, best director, best music … who knows …
Ray: Ah, who knows, man.
Rainer: Best actor?
Ray: I haven't seen the movie.
Dorothy: Definitely not best actor.
Rainer: No?
Ray: Ah! (laughs) (I am giving Ray a promotional 7” of 'The Solar Boat'. Ray signs the white label disc.)
Rainer: I've bought this one at a second-hand record store down on Melrose, it cost me 5 bucks.
Ray: Ay!
Rainer: Seems to be pretty rare, this record, huh?
Ray: I've never seen one!
Rainer: No?
Ray: It's amazing!
Dorothy: What is it?
Ray: 'Solar Boat', promotional copy.
Photo Rainer Moddemann
Rainer: I didn't know that it was out on a single.
Ray: I didn't even know it was out on a single. Or if I did, I don't remember, but Pablo was just born at the time, so I had other things on my
mind, you know.
Rainer: Ok, yeah, I understand.
Ray: That's why I put in Didi and Gogo, and little Pablo. Didi and Gogo are a reference to, ah, 'Waiting for Godot'. And that's why he can't
come today, that's what they say at the, ah, “Are you waiting for Mr. Godot? Well, he can't come today, perhaps he'll come tomorrow.”
And that's what that's all about.
Rainer: Lovely album. Wish you'd put it out on CD.
Ray: Yeah. Well, I get around to it one of these days.
Rainer: What about The Doors getting a star on the Walk of Fame?
Ray: Ah, I don't know anything about it.
Rainer: I've heard there are people working on it …
Ray: Oh yeah?
Rainer: Yeah, yesterday I met someone who told me that. What do you think of it?
Ray: Ok. Well, maybe after the movie. What do I think about it? Well, whatever … oh, Oliver Stone, there you go, ok, well, The Doors'
qualification Oliver Stone, ok, now we're qualified. We didn't, ah, …
Rainer: No, I don't think because of the movie you will get a star, you know, this girl gave a list to me yesterday, and she said, “We're trying to
get 10.000 signatures for The Doors getting a star on Hollywood Boulevard,” you know. They want The Doors, not Jim Morrison. Which
I think is pretty good.
Ray: Fine, if we get one; fine, if we don't get one; fine. We make peace, let's make peace on the planet- Make love, not war. That's it!
Rainer: Thanks for the interview, Ray! Thanks for the drinks, Dorothy!
Ray: You're welcome, it was fun!

(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.