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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My memories of hanging out with Keith for an evening are blurry... I do remember writing in one of my journals: "WORST HANGOVER EVER... don't forget how stupid it was trying to keep up with the William Borroughs of rock n' roll."...jd ... See MoreSee Less

My memories of hanging out with Keith for an evening are blurry... I do remember writing in one of my journals: WORST HANGOVER EVER... dont forget how stupid it was trying to keep up with the William Borroughs of rock n roll....jd

Lili Gombos, Jonathan Longaker and 2140 others like this

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Joseph UtschThis from a guy who was in a band with Jim Morrison, one of the legendary drinkers of our time. Kieth really is indestructible lol

14 hours ago   ·  25

1 Reply

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Lucy AuchinclossThat's really interesting - I've always wondered how much contact The Doors had with The Stones and The Beatles. I can't remember seeing it covered in "Riders on the Storm", "Light My Fire" or "Life "autobiographies. Would love to know more.

14 hours ago   ·  9

2 Replies

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Mick ThomasIt was the sixties or early seventies. Just be glad he remembers anything at all. And for the record, I don't believe there's an admin posting for John. You can usually tell when that's the case and this doesn't come off like that.

9 hours ago
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Gregory KolzIf this is what he looks like in real life what must his Portrait in the attic look like. This comment is meant for those who had to read "A Portrait of Dorian Gray" in High School.

11 hours ago   ·  1

1 Reply

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Marko MusićTo be William Burroughs of rock n roll is much more harder than just to be William Burroughs

11 hours ago
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Nikki JohnsonI would have thought you'd be tough as nails considering you were in a band with an alcoholic. Obviously you didn't drink much back then.

11 hours ago
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Derek SimsA bit blurry, lucky you can remember anything after a session with Keith.

14 hours ago   ·  4
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James V. HixsonI would be more worried being near Keith Richards like his dad might have and passed and fact or fiction.keith allegedly snorted his dad's ashes?

10 hours ago
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Anthony Cappercount your lucky stars john the Keith involved was Richards not Moon lol

10 hours ago
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Joe HigginsThanks, John, for the perspective of another great musician.

15 hours ago   ·  1
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Radim PřibylFor every cigarette you smoke, God gives Keith Richards another minute of live

15 hours ago   ·  17

1 Reply

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Silas Bradley McquearyNotice these stars like John Densmore will post but never comment or answer back...

12 hours ago   ·  3

7 Replies

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Andras FabianHaha I think Keef could not care less. 'Cause yaknow..it's good to be here, it's good to be there...

14 hours ago   ·  1
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David CarrilloJust ask Keith! He Remembers! (I think!)

14 hours ago   ·  1
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John CastilloNo one can out party Keith Richards. He has put every drug known to man into his body hundreds of times over.

3 hours ago
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Marcus ReedYeah, Keith shall inherit the planet. He's as timeless as a meteorite.

7 hours ago
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Gregory KolzOne of these days somebody is going to try to wake him up and he will just turn to ashes.

11 hours ago
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Michael AultI bet Jim could have hung with him.

8 hours ago
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Mark SchmidtI hope both of you guys are around for many more parties!

11 hours ago
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Josue GentilTwo legends... but keith is immortal.

15 hours ago   ·  2
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Jay Mckenzie2 legends. Glad you're both still here 👌🏻

15 hours ago   ·  10
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Scott PetersonWhat is it with Keith's? Richards, Moonie?

11 hours ago
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Katy MurphyHaha love you John!

14 hours ago
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Vince Mahoneyi love it and believe it !!!

14 hours ago
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Melisa Stolzenburgwhos that..

14 hours ago

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John Densmore added a new photo. ... See MoreSee Less

Lucas Pereira, Abi Malmsteen and 3442 others like this

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Eduardo RodriguezFor me, the doors is the best rock band in the world, the only one i can call a "rock band", no hard rock, no southern, no blues rock, no psychedelic rock, just rock, pure rock. And you John Densmore.. you are one of the best drummers, greater than bonzo, greater than moon, and too many overrated rock drummers.

1 week ago   ·  23

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Marcelo CostaIn my opinion, The Doors belonged to a great time in rock'n'roll's history with many talented people around them, for instance, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Mamas and Papas, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds and many others. It was a blessed era. Nobody will see anything similar in the future.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Marco Antonio DamiánEn 1970 sólo tenía 13 años cuando mi padre me obsequió un cartucho de 8 tracks de The Doors! Desde entonces y hasta la fecha han sido mi banda favorita. Desde Guerrero, cerca de Acapulco, un fuerte abrazo, John!

1 week ago   ·  3
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Régine SabahJ'ai grandi avec les Doors j'avais 9 ans en 1965 et 15 ans quand Jim est mort j'habite à côté de lui et passe souvent le voire je suis toujours aussi fan des Doors y a pas longtemps j'ai été enfin les voire au Grand Rex et la dernière fois à l'olympia mais il n'y en avait plus que deux puisque vous avez refusé de venir vous aussi quel dommage

1 week ago
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Anthony McArdleAlso pure talent from 4people able to produce unparalleled brilliance blessed with flexibility to accommodate a certain persons excesses and still produce the goods live time and time again

1 week ago   ·  4
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John-paul CoeYou certainly changed my world Sir. You were and remain a class act; musically brilliant, philosophically pure and spiritually beautiful. Keep on keeping on Mr Densmore 👍🏻

1 week ago   ·  4
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Jennifer FraserI love the doors and now my 12 yr old loves them too.Their music and message will never die 💖

1 week ago   ·  3
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Michael Peter HansenLight my fire was used in a television comercial in san jose california 1979-1981

1 week ago

3 Replies

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Ernest CanoI agree...one's mind can change the world with his or her own thought's ...break free .!

1 week ago   ·  1
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Leo RodriguezPara mí fueron mejores q los Beatles.. música sin precedentes una agrupación distinta q fueron mejor de lo que la historia puede decir

1 week ago
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Charlie PoirierGreat looking bunch of Musicians! Great sounding bunch of musicians!

1 week ago   ·  2
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John McGloineJim always wrote from the women's perspective. Unique.

1 week ago
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Tim LaffinOne of my favorite pictures of you guys. What magic you created!!!!

1 week ago   ·  1
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Gary NajmanMy favorite photo of The Doors and the best print I've seen of this picture.

1 week ago
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Peter DanielsWow! I have the limited Joel Brodsky signed print '97 My Fav Band!!!

1 week ago   ·  2
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Richard LandonHappy 50th Anniversary on the signing of your Elektra record contract.

1 week ago
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Suzanne PrideHandsome Lads

1 week ago   ·  1
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Charles CoachmanLove The Doors music... Give me a little Roadhouse Blues...

1 week ago
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John FraanjeThe drummer I envy the most.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Steve BartlettGREAT quote, John.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Mike FickleWoW! Those guys look exactly like The Doors. Really!

1 week ago
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Rafael F RiveraOne my favorite bands of all time.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Enzo MaiarelliMi inchino!!!!!!

1 week ago
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André Luizthe best band of Brazil kkkkk

1 week ago   ·  1
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Greg MacArthurI bought the Doors debut album when I was 13. It was the first album I ever bought. I had to have that 7 minute version of Light My Fire! There was no looking back after that. The Doors remain my all-time favorite band...Led Zeppelin a close second.

1 week ago
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