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Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek reaches The End

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Ray Manzarek, the keyboard player who gave 60s legends The Doors their trademark sound, has died aged 74. Manzarek had been battling bile duct cancer for several years. He died, surrounded by family members, in Rosenheim, Germany.

Although The Doors won fame and notoriety through the charisma and provocative lyrics of frontman Jim Morrison who died in 1971, it was Manzarek's swirling and moody organ sound that set them apart from their contemporaries. Their music straddled the opposing worlds of psychedelic rock and chart pop, with hits like 'Light My Fire' and 'Riders On The Storm'.

Manzarek grew up in Chicago but moved to Los Angeles to study film, just in time for the rise of the 60s counterculture. He met Morrison on Venice Beach and they immediately clicked. The band was short-lived but left numerous classic tracks, notably 'The End', an ominous epic beloved of film-makers looking for a soundtrack standout.

Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said: "I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today. I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him."

Krieger and Manzarek toured with a show called The Doors 21st Century but had to curtail the project after a law suit found they were improperly using the band name. They had to pay £1.5m in compensation to the estate of Jim Morrison and Doors drummer John Densmore.

Densmore added his own tribute: "There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison's words. Ray, I felt totally in sync with you musically. It was like we were of one mind, holding down the foundation for Robby and Jim to float on top of. I will miss my musical brother."

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