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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2 weeks ago

John Densmore

TRIVIA: What cymbal OR effect does John use to create the cymbal crashes in the song "Spanish Caravan"?

ANSWER: "On the song "Spanish Caravan" I heard cymbal crashes every 4 or 8 bars, after we had recorded it. At the time the Beatles were experimenting with Sgt Pepper and different electronic sounds, and I recorded cymbal crashes just using my mouth, not a cymbal. I was just going "tssssh tsssh" I just made the sound and we recorded that, which was really cool. It sounded kind of electronic and like a cymbal". John DensmoreProvided to YouTube by Rhino Spanish Caravan · The Doors Waiting for the Sun ℗ 1967 Elektra Entertainment Group Inc. for the United States and WEA Internatio...
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John, Spanish Caravan is one of my many favorite Doors songs. Some nights after I’ve had a stressful day, it’s the song I turn to. Thank you guys for composing and realizing that song for all eternity!

Some kind of splash cymbals.

My favorite album next to soft parade

the truth is when i saw pamela courson resting place few weeks ago,i feel so sad, and still is,that they both jim and her was just together months with each other before all this,

Spanish Caravan was the first The Doors' song I heard in the USSR, circa 1990. And told immediately: «Вы обалдели такое от меня прятать?» (not sure if I can translate it properly at this moment). Then found other albums, still at the compact cassettes then — and found there even more depths & heights, treasures, gazing abysses.

An old tamborine left over by Grace Slick from a Jefferson Airplane concert long ago. Do l get my No Prize?

His mouth. Love this album- got it on vinyl about 20 odd years ago xx

My guess would be a tambourine atop the cymbal or a 'splash' cymbal. Either way, I think I'll Be playing the track this weekend.

Splash cymbals I change my answer didnt read the question properly id say ride cymbal in the later part of song

I just love the song dont care if John uses pots n pans

It’s probably vocal, John Densmore going “Psshheeww” and adding reverb to make it sound like a broken china splash

Trick question, it was not a cymbal nor an effect, it was your mouth. 😉

Hermosa canción,no logro identificar cual tipo de platillo usas en esta bella pieza,me gusta este tipo de trivias también. Saludoors!!

Not sure John, I don't hear well anymore (lots of rock n roll😉) but I'd say you are using brushes on the cymbals and maybe drums as well...

I have no clue, but it needs more cowbell.

No clue, part of the Densmore magic.

Glass crashing. Maybe a bottle of beer? (Final note)

at least it has tape echo on it

Urr, ain't it just music?

Sizzle cymbals maybe?

circus whip maybe ??🙄🙄🙄

There were lots of tape being played backward on that song, I would think its not a cymbal but another drum being played backward...

only John would know.

Paul Rothschild smashing his head on the mixer trying to get a take he liked.

100 year old Zildjian Cymbal found in Egypt and smuggled to California in a basket of Figs

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