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 a new photo. ... See MoreSee Less

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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.

5 days ago   ·  23

2 Replies

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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.

3 days 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!

5 days 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

4 days 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

5 days 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 👍🏻

5 days 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 💖

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

5 days 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 .!

5 days 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

5 days ago
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Charlie PoirierGreat looking bunch of Musicians! Great sounding bunch of musicians!

5 days ago   ·  2
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John McGloineJim always wrote from the women's perspective. Unique.

4 days ago
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Tim LaffinOne of my favorite pictures of you guys. What magic you created!!!!

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

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

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

4 days ago
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Suzanne PrideHandsome Lads

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

5 days ago
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John FraanjeThe drummer I envy the most.

5 days ago   ·  1
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Steve BartlettGREAT quote, John.

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

4 days ago
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Rafael F RiveraOne my favorite bands of all time.

5 days ago   ·  1
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Enzo MaiarelliMi inchino!!!!!!

5 days ago
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André Luizthe best band of Brazil kkkkk

5 days 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.

4 days ago
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At Ron Kovic's latest book signing "Hurricane Street" (Also author of "Born on the Fourth of July") ... See MoreSee Less

At Ron Kovics latest book signing Hurricane Street (Also author of Born on the Fourth of July)

Caroline McElroy, Antonio Aloisio and 23 others like this

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Michelle FalerneIt was a great evening..Ron will also be at the MyHero Film Festival in Nov. presenting the Ron Kovic Peace award to the winner... He's always out there inspiring! ;)

2 weeks ago
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David TuckerBorn on the Fourth of July is an incredible book and read.

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Eric MahroumMy mom was an extra in that movie when they came to Dallas to film it.

2 weeks ago
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Bryan UlmWhen is your next book John and signing still never got you on my two books of yours.

2 weeks ago
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Gayle WilmouthGreat pic. Had to share.

2 weeks ago
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Frédérick DendeckerRiders on the storm :)

2 weeks ago
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Gayle WilmouthYou are looking awesome.....John

2 weeks ago
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Emiliano MarianiJohn prepara un tour in Italia.

2 weeks ago
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Barry ShalenSaw Ron speak at Kent State on May 4, 1976. Very powerful!

2 weeks ago
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Nikki DavisYou look great John

2 weeks ago
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Andy CarrascoAwesome picture!

2 weeks ago
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Christopher ParsonsGreat pic John!!!

2 weeks ago
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Diego Jimenez SalazarDos genios

2 weeks ago
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Katie WallerLooking Good John

2 weeks ago
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Chris AsecasNahhhhh!!!!!. Grosos Both!!!!

2 weeks ago
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Armando Hernández Ayala2 grandes!!!!

2 weeks ago
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Strangers Among UsMr. Densmore, you are too cool!

2 weeks ago
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Edward MoujaesIcons!!

2 weeks ago
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Sven Kalmar

2 weeks ago
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Tom StierKeep on rockin', John Densmore!

2 weeks ago
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