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 habituΓ© 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

"When a drummer develops good time, it's like meditating; to be exactly in the groove is to chant an internal mantra."
John Densmore
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When a drummer develops good time, its like meditating; to be exactly in the groove is to chant an internal mantra. 
John Densmore

 

Comment on Facebook

Thanks for the great drum lessons and your Doors integrityπŸ™πŸ½β€οΈπŸ”₯πŸ’ͺ

What's Up John!? Big Fan of yours. Thanks for your Art and Wisdom

Strange eternal Densmore-this is it.. youtu.be/_stUer_HidE

Densmore is one of my favorite drummer! Great tone!

Your one of my drumming heroes. Thank you from all of us Generation X Drummers.

John the best ♥️

The Doors I love you

I never heard it expressed that way but that really catches the way you play the drums. The way you respond to what the other musicians are doing is much more than just keeping the beat; it's creating a new pathway that all the musicians pick up on and develop. It is really fascinating to follow. Thanks for making your drumming so interesting to listen to.

Thank you, John, for the wonderful music. You're the best!

Awesome revelation

Perhaps this is one reason why the music being played in "good time" can send the listener into such a zen-like state. Great music with a perfect beat is a spiritual experience, for me at least.

John, I want to say, as time goes on, more & more I appreciate the strength of character you brought to The Doors. I think your take on Jim was right. We all love Jim, but Jim was destroying himself unfortunately, & it seems like, more & more, as time goes on I realize that you were one of very few people who had the guts to tell Jim the truth (& it seems like you were probably the only member of The Doors to do so). That shows real character. It mustn’t have been easy to do either, because you knew it would make you unpopular, but you knew it was the right thing to do so you did it. Thanks for everything; your music & fortitude is an inspiration to countless people, myself included.

πŸ’™πŸŽΌπŸ₯πŸŽ΅πŸ’™ I have your book, Riders On The Storm. It was a great read! ❀

You’re the best drummer and coolest Rock Star I’ve ever met! Cheers JD!😎❀️

Rock for life ..thaks johm

And your timing always perfect, a Master, A Legend!!

Always glad to see your posts. Thank you!!

Thanks John The Doors will live forever

One of my favourite drummers

Bless u John

Beautiful words♥️

Very cool, but who is the cat depicted by the bust in the upper left above John?

Big John Densmore 😎

❀❀

John' good bless you are one legend

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Very missed thanks for all the great words you left us with πŸ₯°πŸŽ€πŸŽΌ Doors music lives strong in my life always πŸ’•

Thank you for sharing this beautiful photo. Many pictures and memories will be shared today, but I love this one. Jim smiling at a friend.

Rest In Peace beautiful Jim. Your Legacy lives on. 😘 🦎 πŸ‘‘ πŸ₯ƒπŸš¬

aww; this is such a nice picture of our Jim; rest in peace...Ray too; we miss you both. Thanks John.

What an awesome mature voice from a young age. Ahead of his time. He accomplished so much in a short period of time. Just imagine.................

This is a great picture of Jim, showing the great person he was. Thanks John.

Great picture of Jim! Thanks for sharing with us John!

To the vast majority of us who only knew Jim through the music, I want to send kind thought s and condolences to someone who lost a friend, and a tremendously young age. Sorry for your loss.

I Love seeing pics of Morrison. Doors music is timeless. A tune can come on the radio and it's like... πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€˜πŸ˜πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘ŠβœŒ

Too bad you could not have held it together my friend. We all lost when you left but you lost most of all. You lost this beautiful thing we call life. You are so missed.

Jim!! ❀️ Gone too soon. I love seeing all these remembrances tonight. God bless you John. The Doors Forever!! ✨

Thank you John. A great picture of Jim smiling.

An amazing man!!!!! My favorite group of all time. Wish we all knew what really happened that day in Paris. A bittersweet day since it is also my daughter's birthday.............Thx. for posting John. Saw Robbie Krieger's band recently-was incredible.

Miss Jim and Ray! Wish I could meet you John. Maybe some day. Happy birthday Eve Jim ❀

Happy birthday Jim! Hang in there, wherever you are…

His death was such a mystery but his life was such a celebration thank you John for being a true friend to him God bless you

My favorite Jim picture! He looks so sweet!

Celebrating and remembering Jim’s legacy. ♥️♥️

Beautiful picture wonderful smile

Always an inspiration to me. 48 years gone physically, but forever our hearts.

Love you, John. This is always such a bittersweet day.

Thanks John for the photo, seems to capture him in a natural and warmly positive state. You guys were true artists who had the ability to converge each of your singular talents. Jims unique vision and charismatic gifts would've never gotten wings without the group. Thanks for being a friend and coartist. You guys won't be forgotten. Jim is certainly missed but the torch isnt out.

JIM RIPβ€οΈπŸ™πŸ½πŸŒΉπŸ˜’ this photo on my calendar of July ❀️

It’s lovely to see people smile. Your music has made me smile for decades John 😊 Thanks for sharing πŸ‘ŠπŸ»

Never seen this photo, thanks for sharing john

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2 weeks ago

John Densmore

Ray's bass and John's percussion "in the pocket".Original studio drum track. When creating this video, an freeware audio editor was used. Patrons - www.patreon.com/kiboko ... See MoreSee Less

Video image

 

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Love, love this!

Thanks so much, John. This was wonderful to hear!

His drumming is fantastic!

Incredible sound legendary 😊πŸ₯

Great job John !!! 🀘🏻♥️

Ray, playing base on the organ. Brilliant musicianship

Thank you for sharing, and for playing this. Your drumming bursts with passion here. True inspiration!

I've been listening to the Live album a lot lately. It's been great to reconnect with how well the whole band worked off of each other in those jams and how great the percussion was. We're very lucky these men found each other.

Nice one John love it.. x

no bass drum??

I gigged Two Times on Monday.. it's still in my solo set and continues to be a hit.. always gets the best response.. thanks for sharing it with the world x

Truly fantastic. . great intelligent drumming πŸ‘ŠπŸ’š

I got the pleasure of seeing in Vegas when at display at Hard Rock. 🀘🏻♥️

Densmore’s drum alone is a soundgasm!!! πŸ€™πŸ½πŸ€™πŸ½πŸ€™πŸ½πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜ŽπŸ˜Ž

Love your work, John! Thank you for sharing.

Back in early 70s our own band did our version of "Love Me Two Times" far out!! Thanks John, Thanks Robby RIP Jim and Ray!! Best Band Ever!!

Fantastic drumming! What a band...

Learned this fill for fill as a young drummer. Big influence on my drumming. Thx, John. Yer a groove master. 😎

A symphony of perfection’ in the moment nirvana ‘

The Morrison Hotel cassette tape changed my life when I was 13. The reason I became a drummer and the reason I'm a musician, period!

best band ever

Good stuff

Very cool!

William Samson Andy Slim Osborne

Marky Dee 🀘🀘🀘

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