Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors and its keyboardist, died Monday in Germany succumbing to a long bout with cancer, his publicist confirmed in a statement. He was 74.
The keyboardist had reportedly been diagnosed with bile duct cancer.
Responsible for the piercing electric organ sound behind such Doors' hits as "Light My Fire," "L.A. Woman," and "The End," Manzarek formed the band with vocalist Jim Morrison after the two met at a chance encounter on Venice Beach in 1965.
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The Doors went on to sell 100 million albums worldwide and became the first American band to accumulate eight consecutive gold and platinum LPs, among other achievements.
Morrison died in 1971 of heart failure in a Paris apartment bathtub. He was 27.
During their six years performing together, The Doors charted 15 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Hello, I Love You," "Riders on the Storm," "People Are Strange," and "Touch Me."
During Morrison's lifetime, all six of the group's studio albums made the Top 10 of the national sales chart, with "Waiting For the Sun" spending four weeks at No. 1 in 1968.
"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said. "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."
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"There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison's words," Doors' drummer John Densmore added through a spokesman. "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."
Following Morrison's death, the band recorded two albums, "Other Voices" in 1971 and "Full Circle" the following year, before calling it quits shortly after.
Manzarek, however, continued working as a musician and an author for many years to come, going on to produce the Los Angeles punk quartet X.
"The punks were the next generation after the psychedelic era
," Manzarek once said, The Los Angeles Times reported. "After the stoners came the punks, and it was great. I thought it would be bigger in the U.S. than it was, but it never really caught on like it did in England. The punk scene in California, though, was as exciting as what happened in the '60s."
In addition to music, Manzarek also authored two books – "Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors" in 1998 and "The Poet In Exile" in 2002.
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