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's 4-20. What's the best Doors song for today? (Photo Credit: Richard Avedon) ... See MoreSee Less

Its 4-20.  Whats the best Doors song for today? (Photo Credit: Richard Avedon)

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Not To Touch The Earth and Soft Parade

1 day ago   ·  61

7 Replies

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The Crystal Ship

1 day ago   ·  64

4 Replies

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Universal mind... We all need to connect with our 'The' one in so many beautiful faces and places, and timed space.

1 day ago   ·  24

2 Replies

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Light My Fire would be the obligatory. Unless I’ve missed it, no one mentioned L’America. Especially with its obvious reference “I took a trip down to L'America To trade some beads for a pint of gold...”

21 hours ago   ·  4

2 Replies

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It depends how you feel. Though I agree with everybody. All their songs are great. Even now they become greater and greater.

1 day ago   ·  5

1 Reply

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Spanish Caravan...... yes, you know you can

1 day ago   ·  21
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The Cars Hiss By My Window.

1 day ago   ·  12
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"People are strange And Indian Summer" 👏🙌💓

1 day ago   ·  16
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💖you make me real...i can see you face in my mind,,,strange Days...Break on Through..Do it,,,Wildest Music Ever God Blessings ♥️

21 hours ago   ·  2
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Texas Radio and The Big Beat!

1 day ago   ·  12
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Come on ride the tide down to the ocean side , blue eyed lady by my side ,, take her for a midnight ride , out skirts of town , lay some rubber down . In the dead of the night shift her fast and hold on tight ..drive her through to the end of the night ....

22 hours ago   ·  2
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The whole of Morrison Hotel And Wishful Sinful And The Crystal Ship Actually, line em all up, they are all welcome in our house

1 day ago   ·  12
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By Richard Avedon! You had truly "arrived" to merit being immortalized by him. But, then again, there will never, ever be another 'Doors'.

3 hours ago   ·  1
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Right here, right now: Hyacinth house. Yes I’m in a sad mood and I’ve always liked this song for its melancholia

3 hours ago   ·  1
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Yes, the river knows, shaman's blues, summer's almost gone, wishful sinful, waiting for the sun, hyacinth house, you're lost little girl, the spy, the crystal ship, and the entire discography...

1 day ago   ·  12
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L.A. WOMAN for me everyday. I love all The Doors songs and I'm listening to them right now. GREATEST EVER 🎶🎶

24 hours ago   ·  8
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All the doors songs are great to drink or smoke too its mind expansion music takes you to a diffrent realm inside your head

1 day ago   ·  9
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Any, and all! But I keep digging in with “When the Music’s Over.” This is the first legal 4-20 I have experienced. Prohibition is over (in CA) - we won.

1 day ago   ·  3
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All songs are completely amazing, but i love all the Doors and strange days albums, are the best for today

1 day ago   ·  2
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Mr Densmore, LA Woman. That whole album is perfect for springtime in Michigan. Thank you for keeping such good time. Keep drumming.

9 hours ago   ·  1
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Five to one baby, 1 in 5. I guess if we’re talking ratios!!! If not then I’ve completely misinterpreted the question!!!

1 day ago   ·  3
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My real answer was People are Strange, but I always liked Horses Lattitudes for its strangeness. I was 17 or 18 when I first heard it and immediately liked it.

1 day ago   ·  2
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I am with Kristy Spanish Caravan. Robbie offered to help on this one to memorialize John Cornford. Do you think we can get back to that? Michael C Ford and I really can’t wait and I’d like to add another homage to the project by honoring Charlie Haden who passed before we got the chance to get to it. Thanks for everything John!

24 hours ago   ·  1
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Wow. ad hoc? Just only one? "Light my fire" version from "In Concert". I'll love that song till the end of time

18 hours ago
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J’en aime tellement, The Doors font partis de ma vie et ont accompagnés diverses moments de celle-ci.. elles ont toutes leur particularité 🚪❤️🚪

23 hours ago
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John Densmore added 5 new photos.

More shots from the Skirball Cultural Center Event.
Photo Credits: Hector Felix.
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More shots from the Skirball Cultural Center Event.  
Photo Credits: Hector Felix.

I dig your Dumbek John! 😎

4 hours ago
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De lujo

3 days ago   ·  1
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Un musico admirable....

3 days ago   ·  1
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John Densmore added 8 new photos.

SCOTT MITCHELL copyright 2018 scottmitchellphotography.com

SCOTT MITCHELL copyright 2018 scottmitchellphotography.com apr 8
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Photo Credit: Scott Mitchell

SCOTT MITCHELL  copyright  2018   scottmitchellphotography.com  

SCOTT MITCHELL  copyright  2018   scottmitchellphotography.com   apr 8

Caught the interview with Dan Rather. Robby and John looked great. I just wish it was a regular series. Hung on every word. Rather clearly knows nothing about the Doors. Some of his questions were beyond stupid. It was like asking your grandfather about sex.

1 week ago
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You are such an inspiration as a drummer..composer..staying real to the music..

19 hours ago
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BRAVO!

5 days ago
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Genio de 4

7 days ago
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