10 Bands Influenced by Ray Manzarek and the Doors
Jim Morrison’s deep, bellowing baritone was the voice of the Doors, but it was Ray Manzarek‘s signature Vox Continetal organ playing that was the heart and soul of the band’s sound. The music is over now for Manzarek, who died this week at the age of 74, but it will always live on thanks to his fans — many of whom are musicians themselves. The Doors and Manzarek had an undeniable influence on many indie and alt-rock acts, and the following 10 bands will help pass it on to future generations.
Don’t hear hints of the Doors’ blues-soaked psychedelia in the bleak industrial clamor of Joy Division? Not only was Ian Curtis’ deep baritone often compared to Morrison’s, but Ian regularly cited the Doors as one of the band’s formative influences. The parallels go even further, with bassist Peter Hook’s distinctive mid-range bass playing often bringing to mind Manzaeck’s single-note organ. Check out ‘New Dawn Fades’ off 1979’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ below — and then DJ Rudec’s mash-up of ‘Fades’ with the Doors’ ‘Break On Through’ here.
The Dandy Warhols
Ray Manzarek may not have been the first rocker to play bass lines on an organ, but his signature sound was certainly rare at the time — and still isn’t exactly a common move today. That approach wasn’t lost on the Dandy Warhols, who employ Zia McCabe to play the low end on keyboards. Think it’s a coincidence? Not likely, especially considering the Warhols dug the Doors enough to tweet about Ray’s death. On ‘There Is Only This Time’ off 2005’s ‘Odditorium or Warlords of Mars,’ the Warhols offer up a slightly brighter take on the Doors’ more foreboding work.
Iggy Pop was barely out of his teens when he saw the Doors perform in 1967, and the show permanently changed his life. The music pulled Pop in, but it was more Morrison’s confrontational stage presence that had an immediate and obvious impact on the future Stooges singer. His take-away from the gig? “If this guy can do it, I can do it” — which he meant in the most reverential of ways.
Punk priestess Patti Smith had a similar epiphany as Iggy when she saw the Doors in her younger days — although she almost took it as a personal challenge. “I was sitting there thinking, ‘I could do that. I felt this strange kinship, I don’t know why I thought that … I was just a girl from Jersey.” Years later, Smith appeared on Manzarek’s 1975 solo album ‘The Whole Thing Started with Rock and Roll Now it’s Out of Control’ and has been known to turn in the occasional Doors cover. Below, listen to her belt out a version of ‘Crystal Ship.’
Mazzy Star’s ‘So Tonight That I Might See,’ the final track off their album of the same name, may be the most Doors-like track on this entire list — until, of course, singer Hope Sandoval’s hauntingly breathless voice comes in. But even then, her delivery carries a Morrison-like cadence that helps this epic jam of ‘The End’-tinged psychedelia become a strong contender for best ’90s song the Doors didn’t write (but totally could have).
Echo and the Bunnymen
This one may be obvious, but that doesn’t take anything away from Echo and the Bunnymen’s spectacular music. The British band’s moody and dark sound certainly draws from the Doors, but it’s their dead-on cover of ‘People Are Strange,’ which appeared on the soundtrack to cult ’80s flick ‘The Lost Boys,’ that seals the deal.
The Wooden Shjips
We can’t be the only ones who think San Francisco psych rockers the Wooden Shjips (that’s pronounced “ships”) seriously sound like the Doors at some choice moments. Witness ‘We Ask You To Ride,’ the lead single and first track from their stellar self-titled 2007 debut, which comes across as a loose, lively outtake from the Doors’ ‘In Concert’ bootleg, complete with the feedback-soaked wall of sound assault the Doors sometimes busted out when onstage.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Another band with San Francisco roots, the Brian Jonestown Massacre are known for their creative re-imagining of the music of a wide swath of rock icons, from classic legends like Dylan and the Stones to contemporary greats like My Bloody Valentine and Yo La Tengo. But schizo-shamanic frontman Anton Newcombe cut his young musical teeth listening to the Doors, and here, BJM turn in a rare, straight-up cover of ‘Five to One.’
“Put simply, because of the Doors, I chose music as my life path,” Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas wrote in the intro to an interview he conducted with Manzarek and Robert Krieger before the release of the Doors documentary ‘Mojo Risin: The Making Of L.A. Woman.’ “I was actually drawn by the instrumentation primarily … as musicians I found them to be unique and masterful.” That influence can be heard frequently in the Strokes’ music, including obvious shades of ‘Touch Me’ in their first single, ‘Last Nite.’
We’re not totally sure what Nirvana thought of the Doors, to be honest — considering their staunch promotion of the punk ethos, they may very well have regarded the band as an example of the ridiculousness of overwrought “rock royalty” — but they did pay attention long enough to learn how to cover ‘The End’ (kind of). And quite an interesting cover it is, with Krist Novoselic seemingly changing the lyrics as he goes, spinning a ridiculous tale that you really just have to hear to believe. OK, so Nirvana probably didn’t admire the Doors quite like the rest of these bands, but they certainly were influenced by them. Check out ‘The End’ below and then try to tell us their sense of humor didn’t just grow three sizes.