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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Playing this set made me feel like an “Animal”...jd ... See MoreSee Less

Playing this set made me feel like an “Animal”...jd

Maria Elena Leon Villordo, S.A. Miller and 23 others like this

View previous comments

Víctor PastranaDo you hate Jim Morrison? Or is it just a hobby of yours to make fun of him every time you have a chance?.

4 days ago
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Sean CreahanMy monkey lost his kit, he's been frantically seaching for it, he will be happy as smack, when he gets his drumkit back

6 days ago   ·  1
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Tim LindgrenYou are a giant among percussionists!

6 days ago   ·  6
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Billy WolfgangYou're the monster above drums hahaha drums are smaller

6 days ago
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Tracey Ferree TimmermanYou are a giant! Did you eat magic beans?

6 days ago
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Dana DilallaComes from smoking all that weed all thoes years

6 days ago
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Bill RichardsonWell some of us have always thought of you as a MONSTER musician so... :))

6 days ago   ·  1
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Ady PriceThey would sound good with your talents ....😎

6 days ago
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Ron WagonrodJohn, you're 40 yrs too late for Rust Never Sleeps and 30 yrs too late for Stop Making Sense.

6 days ago
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Chris RichardsonYou're absolutely HUGH!

6 days ago
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Scott BerlinerThose drums appear normal sized to me. Did you recently take some LSD for old time’s sake??? 🤣

6 days ago
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Anne FentressCarly Enman could this cheer you up? 🤔

6 days ago

2 Replies

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Jeff LockeJohn you are the greats of all time to me,long life and good health

5 days ago
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Rean Nancooplay it

6 days ago   ·  1
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The Doors Feast of FansToo funny!

6 days ago   ·  3
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Paul MorrisonYou are an animal drummer!

6 days ago
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Traci Dutko StrungisMust be your gigantic talent!

6 days ago
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Skip SautterBoth John !😂

6 days ago
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Roger MayorgaJe.je je es un grande

6 days ago
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Hector GilbertoGulliver!

6 days ago
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Andrea MukYou are the bigger

6 days ago
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Gustavo Bravo DíazMaster!!!

6 days ago   ·  1
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Nicolas C. Michelin-SalomonMaster !!

6 days ago   ·  1
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Omar PesariniGrande jhon

6 days ago
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Álvaro Gomes da Silvayou got taller hahahaa

6 days ago
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John Densmore added 10 new photos.

When musicians of this caliber (Carlos & Cindy Blackman Santana, Krist from Nirvana, John Doe & Exene, the Nelson brother's (Micah & Lukas) step up to honor you, you have to step back... otherwise you'll get a head full of helium. An incredible night... especially when Jim & Ray showed up!...jd
... See MoreSee Less

When musicians of this caliber (Carlos & Cindy Blackman Santana, Krist from Nirvana, John Doe  & Exene, the Nelson brothers (Micah & Lukas) step up to honor you, you have to step back... otherwise youll get a head full of helium.  An incredible night... especially when Jim & Ray showed up!...jd

Daniel Gregorio Jr, Conrad Di Ianni and 23 others like this

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Dave MinerWe’d place you and Robbie in front John.

7 days ago   ·  1
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David TavaresWho is the beared dude on the left side of the pic?

1 week ago

2 Replies

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Diane Brennan3 of my favorite kids, right in a row!!!!!

1 week ago
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Michael BradleyNathan Liberali the sultana wearing a doors shirt

1 week ago
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Armando Hernández AyalaGracias John por tanto recuerdo,The Doors gracias por ser tan chingones!!!

5 days ago
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Omar PesariniGrande john

1 week ago   ·  1
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Albert GomezHappy birthday Mr. Densmore. Your my favorite drummer.

1 week ago
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Mateo SuhorJohn,Robie,Kris,Santana..

1 week ago
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Tom KilbournKris Novoselic at the rear

1 week ago
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Roger MayorgaGenial

1 week ago
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Sergio Moreno OlguínGenial!!!! Es John, Robbie y Carlos Santana?????

1 week ago
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Sergio Moreno OlguínWhat about this????

1 week ago
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John CollinsHey John

1 week ago
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Laurence SdassiWaouh !!

1 week ago
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Wes HudsKrist 🤙🏼

1 week ago
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Sergio Moreno OlguínWhen? Where?

1 week ago
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Enrique Tecayehuatlshare the video :'v

7 days ago
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Anne FentressCarly Enman their outfits 😍

1 week ago

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"BOOM-BOOM" came out of somewhere dark in me during the quiet parts in "The End." Hearing those drum shots must have convinced Jim that I was the right guy to "unleash the sorcerer" in him. His respect felt good. I miss it madly." john densmore (Happy Birthday Jim) ... See MoreSee Less

BOOM-BOOM came out of somewhere dark in me during the quiet parts in The End.  Hearing those drum shots must have convinced Jim that I was the right guy to unleash the sorcerer in him.  His respect felt good.  I miss it madly. john densmore (Happy Birthday Jim)

Cristian Barrera Haro, K Rahman Ashik and 23 others like this

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Corey YorkI’m going to have the pleasure of meeting Jim in July of next year when I’m in Paris for my honeymoon. It’s on the top of my bucket list. Strange how people we never meet have such a huge impact on our lives. Transcendence

1 week ago   ·  20
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Thomas RubinoHappy birthday Jim Morrison the best front man of any band ever. John Densmore drumming after Jim says "this is the best part the part I really like" in the middle of the Soft Parade is the best. I can listen to that part over and over. Such a powerful song.

1 week ago   ·  8
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Anni PetersenHappy Birthday Jim, where ever you are ❤❤ You are soooo missed 😢 Thank you for all your poetry, and all the great songs ❤✌ I'm a big Doors fan ❤❤ You were the great Lizzard King, and you could do anything, and you did, Mr Mojo Risen ✌❤

1 week ago   ·  6
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David DiMatteoAll these years later and DOORS music is still better than anything else out there, what talent you had in that band!

1 week ago   ·  7
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Joe Cotten“Unknown Soldier” and “The End” we’re burning indictments of that senseless war. I will never forget experiencing The Doors at the D.C. Sheraton Ballroom, it was utterly life-changing. Bless all of you for having eyes wide open, and opening minds.

1 week ago   ·  4
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Frank WonderchekYes “Soft Parade“, the words and music of the doors are we live. American prayer, has the wisdom of the walk in life. Happy Birthday Jim. Mr, MoJo Rising, thank you and see ya when I break on through and take that ride with the storm . It’s time, 5 to 1 and no one here gets out alive.

1 week ago   ·  1

1 Reply

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Hester Turan-de GrootHappy birthday Jim, you had the most beautifull voice i have ever heard. And it didn't loose any of its strenghts in time. It is still the most beautifull voice ever. And John, sorry for your loss, the four of you together were just magical...

1 week ago   ·  1
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Patty PoetHe lived down the street from me in Alexandria, Va I also attended George Washington High school but years after he moved to La ❤️🙏😊🎶🎶🎶

1 week ago   ·  2
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Travis CruzThe Doors, in my opinion, were the best together; they just worked so perfectly as one band despite their different musical (and lack of) backgrounds. They took these differences and embraced them, worked off of them to create masterpieces.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Anatol HanauWas thinking about Jim a lot today and played Light my Fire again and again on an icy day here in Berlin... ❤ And hey, I m 'only' 31 and to this day haven't found any music as genuinely intuitive, heartfelt and unique that I never get tired of listening to! Thank you. From the bottom of my heart (boy do I hope you get to read this Mr. Densmore 🙈❤)

1 week ago   ·  1
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Jessica SmithI can only imagine how much you miss your dear friend. He was definitely a Legend. Happy Birthday Jim Morrison!🎉🎂🎈🙏🙏✌✌💗💗💗⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

1 week ago   ·  2

1 Reply

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Christopher ElberfeldI remember reading in your book, John, about how you would be the commas, question marks and exclamation points to Jim's Poetry.

1 week ago
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Dane KlassenYa life is a kind of freaky experience anyway , never quite knowing exactly how we are all connected and what it all means , but obviously your relationship with Jim was unique and special , and as a fan of the doors I have always felt a unique and special bond with you all through the music , and it’s great feeling . Thanks john for sharing this beautiful insight !

1 week ago
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Alan SheldonWe all miss him John.By the way i just gave an American Prayer a spin for the first time in a while ,brilliant work mate you nailed it .

1 week ago
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Jay KeatingI listened to a best of album of the Doors on my drive home today. I found myself still in awe of the band. Musicianship at its finest. Thank you

1 week ago
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Pat DowlingJohn, you and your bandmates created the most enduring R&R of all time....all these years later and you are still the BEST!

1 week ago
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Dennis HiattHey John, seeing you at Sea Tac was great and then seeing Robbie just about knocked me over. And on Jim's bday no less.

1 week ago
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Dave MinerJohn, I understand there were periods when Jim tried to abstain from alcohol. Did he ever openly discuss his alcoholism?

1 week ago
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Adrian DalachI(probably we all) miss all of you guys/music magicians together...cant wait til the other side/God's green Eden!😁

1 week ago
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Ady PriceAnd the beat goes on ! The magic in our ears for ever, thank you guys ,well done John , happy birthday Jim ,

1 week ago
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David Frost III believe you two fed off of one another perfectly in the live setting. Truly an amazing combination of artists.

1 week ago
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Karen MorganYou are an amazing man John Densmore. Thank you for respecting him so much

1 week ago   ·  4
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Roger MayorgaHappy birthday jim morrison como olvidar a jim morrison john densmore y mas tu que comvivistes con el

1 week ago   ·  2
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Alessandro BonsignoriHappy Birthday Jim...you're a great friend John Densmore

1 week ago
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Bedrich MohrRemember when we were in Africa.

1 week ago   ·  3
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