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My memories of Ray Manzarek and The Doors The Source For Jobs Since 1969 Sterling Howard, Owner/Founder 818-888-7879 Musicians & industry personnel receiving this: 59,617


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This is not our usual newsletter. With the recent passing of keyboardist Ray Manzarek, one of my favorite musicians, I just want to relate a little story of the first time I saw The Doors.

One rainy Tuesday night in December, 1965, my best friend Joel suggested we drive down to the clubs on Sunset Strip in Hollywood. We were both 18 year old musicians, attending Glendale Junior College, 7 miles from Hollywood. We parked on a side street and walked down Sunset past the Whisky A Go Go in the rain. About 50 feet past the Whisky was a much smaller club, The London Fog. A sign outside said "Tonight - The Doors". I thought The Doors was a silly name for a rock band.

As we stood under the club's awning to keep out of the rain, two guys came out, observed us hanging around, talked a bit, and asked if we wanted to come in. We said we couldn't because we weren't 21, at which point they offered us their ID's. The guy with glasses gave me his, because I wore glasses, and the other guy gave his to my buddy Joel, because they had nearly identical haircuts. The ID's worked, and once inside the club we gave them back to these guys. I then noticed that there was a total of only 3 customers in the entire place besides the bartender and the doorman, and I figured at this point the doorman probably didn't really care if our ID's had been legitimate or not.

Then the band started to play, and we realized that these two guys were IN the band. The guy with glasses was playing keyboards and the other was the lead singer. I remember the stage was at the rear of the narrow club, and about four feet tall. This was in the days when original bands played the entire night as opposed to one set like today. Joel and I were completely blown away by their unique sound, even if they did have a silly name. We couldn't decide if they were a rock band, blues band, or psychedelic band. It's odd, but even though I was a lead singer in a garage band at the time, I remember Ray the keyboardist more vividly than Jim the singer.

The next time I saw The Doors was several months later. Of course I thought their name was extremely cool by now! They were playing a large all ages club 100 yards from the Whisky called Gazzarri's, (today it's The Key Club). I arrived late and the place was packed. At the end of their set the crowd was going nuts and the band bolted off the stage and Jim Morrison nearly ran over me trying to get out the front door. I remember thinking "Wow - what a difference from a few short months ago". Soon they were a household name nationwide.

As it turned out, exactly one year after seeing them the second time, I was the lead singer in my band playing at the same Gazzarri's 5 nights a week as a house band. A couple years later I was in another group, with a sound strangely similar to - yah, you guessed it.

And, The Doors recorded their first album at Sunset Sound which would wind up being across the street from the Musicians Contact office for 16 years at 6605 Sunset. Thanks for the memories Ray, and the use of your ID, you have no idea how much you influenced my life.

Sterling Howard



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