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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"It was heaven. I was overseeing the sixties, up there in the back. I felt like God, metaphorically, on a cloud looking down at all this beauty". (John Densmore commenting on his vantage point at live shows) Photo By: Yale Joel ... See MoreSee Less

It was heaven. I was overseeing the sixties, up there in the back. I felt like God, metaphorically, on a cloud looking down at all this beauty. (John Densmore commenting on his vantage point at live shows) Photo By: Yale Joel

Hilde Vrancken, Brett Judice and 2977 others like this

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Sandra SmithYes, I was there in 3rd row on the right side with blond hair!! I was 17yr. Jim and The Doors changed my life forever and blew my mind! Ironically, I sang on stage with The Doors at their Reunion show at the Henry Fonda Theater, LA CA, a few months ago!! That was a thrill of a life time to meet John Desmore and Robbie Robby Kriegerk, and sing Light My Fire!! So thankful. Such great talents.

7 days ago   ·  5
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Dennis SullivanIt must have felt like this incredible wave of energy coming from the audience. What an emotional and spiritual experience this must have been.

1 week ago   ·  7
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Turner Blandlets not make it more than it was, you have missed the main piece, as genius as you are on the drums, and as many stages as you've been on, you've missed the mainn one... i wish Jim would have realized vanity wasnt the way... but you can hear his desperate cries for god in the music, he was so close, just not quite enough time...

7 days ago
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David PetersLooks like a high school auditorium. I can see some older people, maybe teachers, sitting at the end of some rows. Early performance?

6 days ago
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Mark CleeveIncredible picture...how on Earth did you do The Doors with an audience like that?

1 week ago   ·  5
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Bocia PanociaAnd now the only thing you see in concerts is a bunch of idiots shooting the whole show with their stupid Iphones instead of enjoing it.

1 week ago   ·  7

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Galen KogutThis is such a cool shot! You had the best seat in the house, brother!

1 week ago   ·  6
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Robert HochbergerLove the doors...love the Samba beat Densmore. You still inspire.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Ashlee AlmanzaIf only time travel was real 😔

1 week ago   ·  16

1 Reply

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Sandra SmithI was in Heaven with you, John Densmore! What a thrill to be at this show watching you! xx

7 days ago
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Julie CliffordAmazing shot! That audience looks SO well behaved! 😉

7 days ago
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Regina CantoDivindade,almas interligadas,sucesso.Vivo o hoje do ontem,sinto a energia The Doors.Meus caras.

1 week ago
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Richard RosalesUs drummers always have the best seat in da house good pic great memories

1 week ago
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Steve MarxDid ya ever get stage fright at all when you were performing John? I couldn't do it in front of 1000s

1 week ago
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Anthony ConstantineI always tell people...drummers have the best view!Awesome.

1 week ago
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Ruggero PoggiCan t stop watching that empty chair on the right side...what a waste.

1 week ago   ·  1

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Nosmo KingAnd brother did we get to fly with you guys ..thx for the (on-going) trip ... many connections but, non-stop..........

6 days ago
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Marcelo CostaNot only Jim had an interesting biography, but Ray, Robby and you John, too.

1 week ago
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Luís CarvalhoThe show is not over yet. Still have the power to ride that wild horse wich needs a second voice. ;)

6 days ago
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Pablo Gomez CamposJohn Desnmore best drummer ever best Morrison's friend

1 week ago   ·  1
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Brent MareshLove Ya'll Man! Best Band...

1 week ago   ·  1
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Abel AvibolañosBack door Man! !!

1 week ago   ·  1
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Maciej MałeckiIs Everybody In?

1 week ago   ·  1
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Marck SlsBet Mr.Densmore had a good view like this on many nights.

1 week ago
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Craig SchaibleAnd we appreciate all that you brought to us

1 week ago   ·  1
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John Densmore added a new photo. ... See MoreSee Less

Diane Effros, Nicholas Alorac and 1654 others like this

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Doug KneisslJohn Densmore I love ya but there is no way on this planet that anyone can shoot 13+ rounds a second from a semi-auto rifle or pistol

1 week ago   ·  49

17 Replies

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Alex ChristThey intended for the average civilian to be armed in comparison with the military, because they had witnessed their own tyranical government's military massacre innocent civilians.

1 week ago   ·  36

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Jëffery RüdyIn that vain, Freedom of religion only pertains to religions older than 1791.... Sorry for your new belief system, The founding fathers were only talking about religions of that time period.... Freedom of speech and press is not covered on any device or platform that did not exist prior to 1791.... Sorry the founding fathers did not realize the impact of the internet.....

1 week ago   ·  16

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Greg ValeThat is true, for assault rifles you idiots!, but you can't just stroll into a gun store and buy an Assault Rifle capable of automatic fire!!! You can by a semi-automatic rifle(trigger must be pulled each time you wish to fire a single round) ... Good luck trying to fire 13.3 round per second with one of those!!!!

1 week ago   ·  15
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Benjamin EllandOh sweet had no idea you sat down and had a conversation with washington john that's pretty cool! tell scientists about your time travel ability!

1 week ago   ·  14
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Sean ThorntonThe second amendment is about a society protecting itself from any tyrannical government or entity by ANY means possible. This was put in place so a government would not have the power to easily subdue or overpower its public. Our fore father's knew how greedy and corrupt a government can become. The evolution of corrupt power was evident to them. They just couldn't see that far in Advance how stupid people would become. They couldn't see the manipulating media, the corrupt corporations. They just knew what represented the best means of protection at the time. They knew a person in their right mind, and WHATEVER TOOL NECESSARY to PROTECT their self should always be free. I feel people will still misunderstand it.

1 week ago   ·  6
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Brian GerrardBack then the musket was the weapon of choice. Home protection requires a weapon that matches the enemy's. So when that changes so must the firearm.

1 week ago   ·  15
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Werner WingenI need to take a hot shower tonight, didn't think that your posting would attract so many gun wackos and folks with government paranoia, no wonder our land now is one of the most violent countries on earth

1 week ago   ·  4

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Rob YoungIn those days you could buy kegs of black powder. You could buy a ship fully loaded with cannons and crew if you had the money. They were well aware of and fully capable of violence and destruction on a massive scale. And they knew that the right of the people to defend themselves from any and all threats is a God given right. That is why it is a right that shall not be infringed...

1 week ago   ·  3
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Wayne FortierAnd at the time when the second amendment was written, those musket balls were the highest and most advanced form of weapon technology. Not only were citizens granted the right to use and own that technology, but in much more abundance than the government. Now, where is my drone? The weapons available to us are not even closely comparable to our government's at present time.

1 week ago   ·  3
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Kaitlin DesperTo me..it shouldnt matter. The government will come in groups most likely and us people should be able to kill off that many threats quickly

1 week ago   ·  2

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Mike DudleyOf course, over here in "Eurp", we all live in defenceless terror of the evil tyrannies that keep us in feudal servitude, eh? It may surprise you to hear that from over here, you all look and sound completely barmy. ( Translate: mad, lunatic, certifiable)...

1 week ago
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Kevin ClarkinLove your music but you sir are wrong!! First automatic weapons were banned in the US in the 30's and President Washington would have been fine with us owning cannons as he was aware that the second amendment allows the citizenry to overthrow the government should they get out of line. I dare say that time may be approaching! Keep rocking sir and thanks for the music!

1 week ago   ·  2
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Rich SantosJohn, just play the F'en drums.You shouldn't put words in the Founding Father's mouths...especially since you were so afraid of Morrison and he didn't want to kill you.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Jools Clarke....I so needed that today....there was a chemical explosion in Ventura...but you would smell the shite all the way to Hollyweird...had my windows closed most of the day...WTF is going on ?😳👽🚲🚲🚲🚲

1 week ago
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Austin JamesAs much as I am a doors fan! This is to me selling out to the general pop thought process! Not what is better for man kind! And that was to be armed against the military if need be!

1 week ago   ·  1
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Robert EatonThey were talking about defending themselves from tyranny. Too bad all these Constitutional scholars haven't a clue what's in it or what it was written for!

1 week ago   ·  2
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James Dragoim reasonably certain that they didnt mean for same sex marriage either - its a living document - it changes......by the way: who the hell is shooting 13.3 bullets per second?

1 week ago   ·  5

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Turner BlandNO! they were talking about arms!!! when the government's arms get deadlier, so should ours, otherwise we are outmatched and doomed...

1 week ago   ·  4

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Denis Robertthe 2nd amendment, NRA, Trump & all republican are responsible for all this killing..enough is enough! no more guns in America..it's simple!

1 week ago
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Gantt StoneThis guy would still kil many people if all he could get was a musket! It's not the gun it's the sick person and ideology nothin will stop them!

1 week ago
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Jim MorrisonFerfucksake, we wanted you to be able to protect your self from an inept government, like Obama and Clinton and Sanders, we weren't protecting the guns rights - dumbass' - we were protecting yours!

1 week ago

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Glenn Stockleyyour constitution was written by rich white male slave owners who didn't want to pay taxes....don't know why you all think it's so wise and sacred.... :)

1 week ago   ·  1

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John LecterYou can have a musket for home defense mr Densmore. I'll keep my shotgun and semi-auto rifle, thanks.

1 week ago   ·  12

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Travis CarterSo if we try to protect ourselves with muskets the bad guys will laugh at us while we r reloading.before they shoot at us using a gun that shoots13.3 billets a second

1 day ago
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