John Densmore


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“I play the drums,” says John Densmore, with tangible pride.

He may be belaboring the obvious, considering that, as the rhythmic engine of The Doors, he’s responsible for some of the most famous beats in rock history. But Densmore still bristles at what he calls the “dumb drummer” stereotype.

“The drum was the first fucking instrument,” he declares. “The reason people move and dance is that they’re trying to get back to that heartbeat. It’s the heartbeat you hear in the womb that started the whole deal. An orchestra, a four-piece rock band, whatever it is, they’re trying to get back to that heartbeat.”

The universal, ancient call of this heartbeat has been Densmore’s obsession since his childhood in Southern California.

“I took piano when I was eight, and I loved it,” he recalls. “I liked improvising on songs I had learned, rather than learning new ones. I got turned on by the piano. My teacher would give me songs to play, simplified classical and pop, and I got off on it.”

Eager to try his hand at another instrument, young John at first fixated on the clarinet. His orthodontist, however, strictly forbade him to wrap his wired mouth around any reed instruments. The world has this medical professional to thank, then, for the fact that John Densmore headed for the drums.

“I was in the orchestra and the marching band with those stupid uniforms,” Densmore recollects. “I got a rush from playing with 40 musicians, no matter how amateurish–there’s power in a marching band.”

He became enamored, in his teens, with jazz–and particularly with the playing of drummer Elvin Jones, whose evocative, muscular grooves with John Coltrane’s band influenced a multitude of rock musicians. He also became a habitué of the L.A. club scene, where bands like The Byrds and Love were a foretaste of things to come.

He met guitarist Robby Krieger, and the two began writing and playing together in a band called Psychedelic Rangers. Densmore next hooked up with Chicago-bred keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who was then playing in a group known as Rick and the Ravens with his brothers and a shy Floridian named Jim Morrison, who knew Manzarek from UCLA film school.

Eventually, Manzarek’s brothers left the band, and Densmore brought Krieger in. The foursome gelled, despite lacking an element most bands took for granted. “We couldn’t find a bass player,” Densmore remembers. “We tried once or twice, but we sounded like the Stones. A white blues band. Who cares? We wanted to be different.”

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3 days ago

John Densmore

If you didn't catch this on The Doors Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/thedoors) a while back - here's 2 musical brothers accepting The Founders Award.Robby Krieger and John Densmore accept the Founders Award at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle on December 7, 2017. Presented to The Doors, the Founders A... ... See MoreSee Less

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Robby Krieger & John Densmore. Come to Mexico. Do concerts together.

Still think you two should create new works,,, we fans are craving for something from you two!

Two true class acts. Robby it’s a true pleasure to call you a friend.

I ran into both of them at the airport the next day - Jim's bday

Love seeing you 2 together, just LOVE IT!!!

I so wish you would have met with me while I was in LA. I reached out 3 times. Just wanted to meet and speak with you about your book.

"The" sixties contribution which gave Sgt. Pepper and Exile on Main St. shaky legs.

How cool ) nothing ends, but continues in a different form.

Do you have both courage to visit Spain? 🇪🇸 🍃🌷🙏

Thank you John for sharing this!

This link to the Doors YouTube channel looks better ;) www.youtube.com/thedoors

Johnnyyyyy!!!!!

Vengan a guadalajara México

So deserved!!!!!!!

Cool!

Samuel John

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