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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Last nite at Speaker Paul Ryan's town hall, he blamed the 32 yr "War on Poverty" for being unsuccessful at fixing the problem. According to Dr. King the program was very successful until the Vietnam "conflict" sucked all the money away. The Speaker is too young, or too manipulative, to understand history. Tax cuts for the rich has never "trickled down" to the poor. jd ... See MoreSee Less

Rasmenia Massoud, Christopher Morris and 421 others like this

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David WorkmanThe path to getting out of poverty is by getting up off ones ass and looking for a job. Or a better one. I don't care what side of politics a person is on. Facts are what they are

13 hours ago   ·  16

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Rey GaljourGiving stuff away that many people worked hard for to people who didn't work at all isn't all that great a plan either though...

14 hours ago   ·  6

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Mark MoverAs the biggest Doors fan of all, and it's not close. If you don't agree with John that's fine. Keep it to yourself. I don't always agree with my favorite artists or athletes. I love them anyway and If you need to say something.... don't do it here.

13 hours ago   ·  4

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Todd FiducciThey're are some families that are stuck in poverty, but there's also many who play the system and live off the tax payer dime. I work three jobs and I see many people that have plenty of money for smart phones, tattoos, and a large family of kids that they can't care for properly, but would rather get a free hand out than get a job.

13 hours ago   ·  5

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David HewittNo taxes have ever brought a poor man to wealth. Well, outside of special interests and politicians. Please though John, send every dollar you have to your government keepers. You know they will take it gladly.

13 hours ago   ·  1

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James NealNot sure about before Vietnam but at no time in my lifetime has any president, democrat or republican, done a damn thing for poor or middle class people. Everyone I know who was poor in the 70's, 80's, 90's and this century, is either still poor or went out and made something of themselves. Sitting around waiting for the government or anyone else to do Shit for you is a bad idea. They all talk a good talk but none of them actually give a shit unless it's for their own special interests.

12 hours ago   ·  2
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Bill HamiltonYou're right my brother! Never has worked and it never will. And really, people only need look to the recent Bush presidency to see that trickle-down economics is a fallacy.

14 hours ago   ·  4
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Miriam DaveyWhen you're the first generation to graduate college, and are trying to build what you hope will be generational wealth via the American way, thru home ownership, you are depending greatly on our financial, lending, and real estate systems to work equally well for for people of all races and ethnicity. Even in 2015, these personal wealth-building systems based on home ownership, tend to work way better for Caucasians than non-Caucasians. Countless experiments have shown, for instance, that mortgage lenders reject equally qualified non-Caucasian loan applicants way more than Caucasian ones. Entire neighborhoods are now owned by a handful of slum lords, instead of individual home owners who couldn't get a loan to buy one of the houses even if they wanted to. And don't get me started on the extreme need for gender pay equality and workplace accommodation of employees who are primary caretakers of young children, elderly or disabled family members, many if not most, women. Until all these systems and more, work well for EVERYONE, not just white men, this country will still have way too many poor people who are stuck in their circumstances with no way out. I couldn't agree with you more, Mr. D.

12 hours ago   ·  2
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Jammy JerrySo tell us John Densmore History Professor. What's held back the war on poverty since the Vietnam conflict. Trickle down was the 80's. You got the 90's, the dbl 00's, and the last 7 with Obama. Has there ever been a "war" on poverty? Maybe a war on the impoverished. To keep them there.

5 hours ago
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Adam PaceccaThe only poor people are the ones who have to work for a living like me. You wanna get rich, you go on welfare and take all the tax dollars that I work hard for.

11 hours ago   ·  2
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Stephen DunawayI think your right . We are in a very difficult position right now however I do not believe the Russians rigged the election and Trump is legally President . The movement for have mass violence is something I cannot support . I am supporting a small business admin. super fund for those in poverty paid for by the natural resources the gov. and corp. have been stealing from the people ( if it does not legally belong to Native Americans ) I wish you the best and am grateful for your post thank you . With much admiration

12 hours ago
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Reese LukehartEven as a conservative, he's an untrustworthy rat...even moreso than politicians usually are

14 hours ago   ·  5

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Kathy Carroll PinneyNeither does socialism

14 hours ago   ·  4

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Brian PaulJohn ... stick to music ... being a musician in a successful band 50 years ago doesn't make u a good judge of public policy ... and ur facts are in correct

12 hours ago   ·  2

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Guglielmo Mezzafavawho drummed with Jimbo is always right!

13 hours ago   ·  3

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Dan NowellPlease no politics!!

14 hours ago   ·  4

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Dean HenryThat's true, we are still paying for the sins of Vietnam to this day.

13 hours ago   ·  1
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Maraya MagasDear John...I'm so glad you are still with us. I love you...

13 hours ago   ·  2
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George KapitanelisIndustry, educatio and hardwork raise people out of poverty, not government programs.

13 hours ago   ·  3
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Scott JamisonDon't forget the corruption of the welfare system. No oversight and lots of people abusing the system.

13 hours ago   ·  3
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Lou SaccoIf any celebrity wants to make a political statement so can anyone else its the American way no matter who the celebrity is,

12 hours ago   ·  1
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Terri BrownAgreed! Even Alan Greenspan admitted the trickle-down theory as a part of laissez-faire economics was a complete failure.

11 hours ago   ·  1
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Karlis DankersReagan had it wrong - it's "Trickle Up" as in streaming money from the working stiffs up to the already rich.

11 hours ago   ·  1
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Barry DeanI got a trickle for the rich....drip drip right on there head - watch that trickle lol

14 hours ago
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Derek ArmstrongAnyone who says you just get a job has no fucking clue what they're talking about.

11 hours ago
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A great comedian is now making God laugh --

"I went into a cafe in the south & they said, 'we don't serve colored people here,' & I said 'that's ok, I don't eat colored people... give me some fried chicken!'" Dick Gregory

(Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
... See MoreSee Less

A great comedian is now making God laugh --

I went into a cafe in the south & they said, we dont serve colored people here, & I said thats ok, I dont eat colored people... give me some fried chicken! Dick Gregory

(Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Rodrigo Esteban Cuevas Mardones, Andrew Printup and 435 others like this

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Maria Laura PanzeriCaterina Grasselli anche lui è morto, non lo conoscevo...ho visto che chuck d l'ha postato su instagram...in pratica è stato comico, attore, attivista, scrittore e critico o.O

3 days ago

2 Replies

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James Clearwater MorrisonThanks for posting that on that "Instagram thing." Whatever that is. So I deleted this comment because of it's length. I see people only right a few lines on these "comment things." I'm learning. (And that was the short version). On the way to the police station, I looked at that other cop and said...Can it be....it is! Frank Zappa! Hey man.....I love that song Trouble Everyday......

2 days ago
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Jasmine ValaI still have the 2xLP of his appearance at Kent State, ca. 1971. So important to have social commentary in the moment.

2 days ago   ·  2
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Terry MaysThanks John. Wishing you all the best.

3 days ago
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Michael ForeeR.I.P Man!!

3 days ago

1 Reply

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Gino DeVirgoHis work for civil rights far outweighs his comedy, sir.

3 days ago   ·  1
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Michelle FreemanThank you, John!

2 days ago
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David KerrSad few days for comedy

2 days ago
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Joe KreiselR.I.P!!!!!

2 days ago
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Jeffrey StephensRest in peace.

2 days ago
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Reg IonNever heard of him having some white guilt John

2 days ago
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Eliseo Hernandez OrtegaNow that's funny!!!!!!!!!! RIP

2 days ago
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John O'BrienA great American man....

2 days ago
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Bram OrselBernard

2 days ago   ·  1
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