John Densmore


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Biography

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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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John Densmore added 2 new photos.

Performing next to artwork by Alberto Burri in front of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. (1-9-17)
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Performing next to artwork by Alberto Burri in front of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. (1-9-17)

Giovani Hernandez, Renata Thomazi and 23 others like this

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Allen WilsonAre you trying your shoe on the head of your djembe? Weak. I love the doors and all of its members but typically the only thing that's supposed to touch the head of a djembe is a player's hands. I learned this when I sat my sprite can in my djembe at a drum circle. Apparently it's disrespectful to the tree that was cut down for the wood and the animal that furnished the drum head.

4 days ago
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Vito SpataforaPeppe Zummo credo ci siano le basi per fare un'altra bella cosa... Se porti John densmore ti fanno na statua! Ahahahah

3 days ago   ·  1

2 Replies

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Al ShannonJohn Densmore! With your permission, post some of your thoughts elaborating on the ideas of The Poet Robert Bly concerning drumming when you have the time. LoveBliss Peace Blessings!

5 days ago
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Katy MurphyHow kewl is that?! Love the photos John!

5 days ago
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Milo DimartinoI love it

4 days ago
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Kris Bowerslooking fabulous Mr John Densmore :) #KBWILDCHILD

5 days ago
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Roger MayorgaUn genio john densmore

5 days ago
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Saul DominguezBig fan here !

4 days ago
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Steve ValiaAlright alright pretty neat pretty neat pretty good pretty good, alright John!!

4 days ago
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Barducco Art BarduccoThe Best. ..🌿

5 days ago
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Wieslaw AleksandrowiczKapitalne

5 days ago
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Russ CosentinoHello Mr. Densmore I have enjoyed your music since the begining 66-67 I wrote letter about "Unknown Soilder" I was 10. I asked for photo /autograph, which I recieved . Are they real 5x7 looking up at camera someone said 1966 N.Y Eletrka Records Thank You 49 years later. And Thank You for standing with the Natives , mined got push out from Georgia 1600 you know that story Thank You from my heart Russell

3 days ago
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Michele TangredaL'Italia nel mondo!! 🇮🇹

5 days ago   ·  1
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John Densmore added 5 new photos to the album: Doors Day - Venice, CA (1-4-17).

(Photo Credit: Michael Hunter)
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(Photo Credit: Michael Hunter)

Marco Vinicius D Novaes, Heder Stefano and 23 others like this

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Erik DiGenioIT STARTED RAINING WHEN RIDERS ON THE STORM PLAYED, YOU CANT WRITE THIS STUFF !

2 weeks ago   ·  102

10 Replies

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Ghia ArroyoThank for making an appearance! It was such a joy to see you and Robby get the recognition The Doors deserve. Thank you guys for putting Venice on the map.

2 weeks ago
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Matthew Wayne ElliottI discovered the music in the late 80s. Amazing, all 4 guys made magic. If u took away any 1 guy from the band they simply would not be the Doors. I even have my 5 yr old daughter singing the songs w me. John and Robbie, your music will outlive us all. God bless you both.

1 week ago
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Matthew Wayne ElliottThe Doors seem to me like they had to have been the first, true, Rock band. Edgy hard sound. By far the best of the 60s and early 70s. I Love Peace Frog, damn great song.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Patty PoetHave a blessed day, Jim Morrison lived down the road from me in Alexandria, Va, we went to the same high school , George Washington and LA Woman I am ( Lower Alexandria)

7 days ago
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Karen LinvilleCongratulations You guys deserve to be recognized, every time I hear a Doors song it makes me happy ❤️

2 weeks ago   ·  6
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Anthony YeardsleyGlad it went well...I just Love the doors..there music will save the world..and be sang in future galaxy's... Moonlight drive..x

1 week ago
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Martin StephensHi just got the London Fog set, listen to the record and its great! You guys were so so good! Love it!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Chaz RollazzJohn, I am eternally greatful for all the great music you guys created. Thank you!!

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Lorraine MartinelleJohn, you and Robbie looked so handsome in your peacoats! 💕

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Rean Nancoosweet Jim Morrison BLVD ,wildest thing ever God Bless the Doors.

2 weeks ago   ·  3
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Brian SnookJohn....It's time to fess up about Jim. I know you know 😎

1 week ago

1 Reply

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Ureta Lorca Andres ArturoThe genius of the acid music,The doors ,si las puertas de la percepción estuvieran abiertas .............

2 weeks ago
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Gayle WilmouthWould have loved to be there. I was there in spirit. ROCK ON. Great seeing you and Robby together. Stay blessed.

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Paul Smithif this had been made public earlier id have flown from the uk to be there - hope everyone had a great time.....

2 weeks ago
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Doorpheus NeoI WAS THERE!!!! AND GOT A PICTURE WITH ANDY MORRISON. :)

2 weeks ago   ·  4

10 Replies

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Ginger CatapanoThanks for sharing this wonderful event John; wish I had made my yearly visit to CA this year so I could have been there!

2 weeks ago
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Carrie LynnIt was amazing!! Thank you for sharing your night with us, in the rain!!

2 weeks ago
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Al ShannonJohn Densmore! Eternal Gratitde! Happy 50th Anniversay! LoveBliss Peace Blessings!

2 weeks ago
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Roger MayorgaJohn desnmore un grande del rock muchas felicidades por sus 50 aniversario y arriba la mejor banda del mundo the doors

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Doug AshleyWish u were touring with Robbie , going to see him in Flagstaff

6 days ago
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Wtfm Nicki like it! looks good and has a positive feel to it. Thank you

1 week ago
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Ania LucyYou are the best!!! ✌🏻

4 days ago   ·  1
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Than Kallinka LemosHow I wish I could be with you guys right now

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Kriss LeeWe just love you guys Riders on the storm

2 weeks ago
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