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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Post Morrison "Ships with Sails" studio version with video from the Beat Club. (Written by John Densmore and Robby Krieger) ... See MoreSee Less

The Doors "Ships With Sails" from their 1971 album "Other Voices", the first album issued after the death of former frontman Jim Morrison. The song was writt...

Lisa Fuller Hamil, οδυσσεας τσαφας and 23 others like this

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Bruce GordonThis song completely encapsulates the summer of 1972 for me. I think it's one of the band's all-time high water marks, Morrison or no, and I wish more people knew of it.

4 days ago   ·  24
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Daniel GillardLoved this song for years John; some of your finest work as a band in my opinion. Ray nails it on vocals, the percussion is absolutely spot on, Robby Krieger brings it home beautifully on guitar, and it's full of heart and soul. A meditation on the road, being far from home, just exceptional. Thanks for sharing and reminding me to play this more often :-)

4 days ago   ·  1
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Mark PitoccoThis is the 1st I've heard this since 1972. I instantly knew this was The Doors with a pleasant island lilt. Sadly not only do I miss Jim here vocally, but also lyrically. :( Thanks for posting this though, a nice moment from my youth...

4 days ago   ·  5
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Joshua HerndonI really enjoyed this song and the two Other Voices and Full Circle. For those who liked American Prayer, as I did, you may want to check out "Look Each Other in the Ear" with Michael C. Ford and our pals John Densmore, Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek.

4 days ago   ·  6
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Tor LarsonThis is just the studio version of the song with vision from the 1972 show. Unless Ray duplicated himself so he could sing two vocal lines at once. 😞

3 days ago
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P-f AllGood HoudeDensmore drummin is so underrated. You totally what a real rhythm section should be. Never played percussions, but if so, yu really a good exampke

3 days ago
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Isaac MurilloWhat a coincidence ive been listening to this track like this whole month. Ive been looking for more doors treasures like this song along with "Mosquito", and "Verdilac".

4 days ago   ·  2
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Angelo PenazziHey jim.........je ti amo for ever........un dieu........mon dieu je te vénère et je t'aime a tout jamais tu est et tu sera toujours LA référence........a chaque morceau ke j'écoute j'en pleure j'en tremble........une machine a émotions!!!

3 days ago
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Fabio InnocenziMake an official dvd or blu ray release of the post Morrison videos!!!

4 days ago   ·  9

1 Reply

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Chris RagnerThis is awesome work. I would have loved to have heard more of your post Morrison work my youth. I love the jazz influence. Thanks John Densmore!!!

4 days ago   ·  1
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Richard GriffithsHas all the elements that make the Doors truly unique-my favorite post Jim song.

4 days ago   ·  2
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Dillon VandersAh that's awesome! Wish there had been a more prominent post Morrison era of The Doors. Ray killed it on vocals!

4 days ago   ·  5
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Tom AdamsAll the boys were down on the farm!

4 days ago   ·  2
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Timmy PackerThe two post Morrison Albums hold their own! I don't care what anybody says, they are Damn fine classic albums in my book!

4 days ago   ·  3
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Matt KehrOne of the best off Other Voices! Glad to see some love for the post Morrison era

4 days ago   ·  5
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Piotr CzechThe Doors....Ships with Cosmos....I listen fourth time ;) beautiful!!!!!

4 days ago   ·  2
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David Andersonhad this album on vinyl , this song is totally the mystery of jim morrison totally the doors sound after the !!!

4 days ago   ·  1
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Nuno Melo BiscaiaAt the time the Doors should get another vocal. The instrumental was excelent !

4 days ago   ·  1
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Marcelo ZuñigaBastián este tema es del álbum sin morrison, buenisimo 👍😎🎵⚡

4 days ago

3 Replies

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Dave Martinez"Other Voices" was such a great effort after the death of Jim Morrison!

4 days ago   ·  2
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José Arturo AzpeitiaMy father showed me that song long time ago and I love it! Saludos desde México John!

4 days ago   ·  1
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Luca BrambillaOne of the most underrated album in rock history.... Great album!

4 days ago   ·  1
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Danny McCallThat's a cool song. Rays voice sounds a bit like Brian Eno in the 70's. Thanks for making great music!

4 days ago   ·  1
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William DalyTwo of the same verses and beautiful composition. Rip Jim and Ray. You can do anything to this song

4 days ago   ·  1
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Clayton Garrett Sr.One of my favorite Doors songs, that and Eye Of The Sun.

4 days ago   ·  1
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"I had the first XJ-6 when they came out, long before the car became popular with accountants. That’s when I sold it for a Rolls Royce-looking Jag, the Mark IV, a super gas guzzler. That was back when the first whiffs of rock stardom furled up my nose. Hopefully, I’ve learned something since those heady times, like: "What good is a used-up world?" ... See MoreSee Less

I had the first XJ-6 when they came out, long before the car became popular with accountants. That’s when I sold it for a Rolls Royce-looking Jag, the Mark IV, a super gas guzzler. That was back when the first whiffs of rock stardom furled up my nose. Hopefully, I’ve learned something since those heady times, like: What good is a used-up world?

οδυσσεας τσαφας, Karen Lucas and 23 others like this

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George NicholasI see your point John, but there's just something about the sound and feel of a 600 hp Chevy big block as it tach's 8000 rpm,,,or my old 65 sunroof bug with a 2332 cc,,,

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Michael A. JonasCool. In 1969 at the age of 17, I had a '64 Chevy Biscayne. Btw you give great interviews and enjoyed your last book - enjoyed reading about YOUR perspective on things. Be well!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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James V. HixsonIf you drove that John and Jim had a mustang?what did Robby and Ray drive?i would think now that you would have something eco friendly now or something that would not make the oil companies richer like what David Crosby has which is a 30"s or 40"s type car that runs on soybeans?

2 weeks ago   ·  1

1 Reply

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Donna HauserYes, there's cute John!! I had an XJ6 back in the day too!!! Didn't keep it too long...Once the alternator belt went out and the car just stopped on the freeway and the headliner was always coming down because of the damn English glue didn't hold up in warm L.A. weather...Bought it new ..Never had another Jag since!!

2 weeks ago
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Guillermo BarrónOff topcic, I'll never forget how humble and excited you were, when you were showing me the picture in your book "Riders on the Storm, my live with Jim Morrison " of the place you guys played in my hometown in Mexico. Thank you John!!!

2 weeks ago
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Eric RiveraWe were all so young back then and didn't know better. But we learned, thanks to people like you who had the voices we listened to.

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Rory O ConnorYoung man's fancy with the first whiff of rockstardom naturally goes to his ride of choice. Gotta have the ride to squire his hot babe around in. Kind of obligatory. ;)

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Anne HiloThey made the best cars in the 60's!! esp the one in Riders on the Storm....driven by yours truely......nice photo of you John!!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Robert ShorkeyHey man, we were all young once but in point of fact, it was you guys (the "hippie" generation) that lead the way to the way of thinking that is NOT using up the world. Good call.

2 weeks ago
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Evan FluxWonna jam ? I live in a rain forest near melbourne Australia : ) gotta psychedelic rock band called Opal Ghost .... lol just kidding ... but l have fantasied about picking one of you cats up hitch hicking and forming a band .... lol which l've done anyway with other cats .... anyway thanks for the great vibes ..... surely you realize millions ans millions of us all over this planet were stired by yr drumming : )

2 weeks ago
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Josh BrownI had an XJ6, a 93 but it was great. It had electrical problems but it was a blast to drive. You looked like you really loved that thing.

2 weeks ago
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Rock WilsonJohn it would be cool if you would post about your car history. All rock stars have or had cool cars. I wish I had pics of Jims mustang.

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Nathan SirutaGotta drive John, it's not like the prius lithium mines are saving the earth

2 weeks ago
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Carl Slashausenmaybe do things closer to home and plant a vegetable garden.

2 weeks ago
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Roger AkersAt least you one of those rare Americans who could use a stick shift, Singer Gazelle ,eh?

2 weeks ago
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James BeardI dunno.... I wouldn't mind having Jim's 67, GT500 or that Jag for that matter..... Just wouldn't drive them much.

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Paul William Warnertotally off topic, but I just found Get Crazy on youtube and have been wearing it out. great performance Toad!!!!!

2 weeks ago
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Martin StephensVery nice! Reading your book "Riders on the Storm, my life with Jim Morrison" great reading really enjoying it!

2 weeks ago
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Dimitris KaskaridisIn "when you're strange" film Johny Deep says that John and Jim used to do "walk" with the car!!!

2 weeks ago
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Michael A. BronnerSo did that car ever run or was it the typical British Lucas electrical parts.

2 weeks ago
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Andrew KowalykJohn Densmore, I thought the XKE was the car to have for the era?

2 weeks ago
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Mark Rushexactly...the older we get the more we care about those that inherit this little rock after we pass on...

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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William CoteYou got that right, John! Now we are all trying to bring it back from the brink....

2 weeks ago   ·  1

1 Reply

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Renato R FonesiOla John sou brasileiro do para na sempre curto .ou comento suas postagens queria li dizer que só viciado apaixonado mesmo pelo the doors e ficaria mto feliz si vc me desse um alô por aqui mesmo ..apenas respondesse esse meu comentário. Valeu....

2 weeks ago
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Joseph O DohertyCar, Drive

2 weeks ago
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John Densmore shared Neon Nettle's Mainstream News Reporter Drops Truth Bomb On Live TV.

Neon Nettle
Please excuse this... I rarely do this, but it's close to my heart (Wounded Knee)... thxs for spreading the word, john densmore
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When a mainstream news reporter drops a massive truth bomb on live TV... Follow Neon Nettle for more eye opening videos and articles

Dean Morgan, Milan Levnaich and 23 others like this

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Ian ToonI am a Caucasian born on a reservation where I spent my early childhood. I have a special place in my heart for the Indigenous tribes in the Dakotas and the Midwest. Thank you John Densmore for sharing this, It's about time the people of this country learn the ugly truth that has been painted over for centuries. This reporter is spot on.

2 weeks ago   ·  9
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Phillip Nollauwakan tanka tunkashila, mitakuye oyasin. It always saddens my heart to be reminded of the atrocities of our ancestors.

2 weeks ago   ·  9
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Ken CraneThanks John...wanna help spread the word about Flint, Mich.'s water also? we don't have a Rez close by Flint, but Men like Reuther were well known there. I'd certainly be Proud if You spoke out...because a lot of Flint can't stand muckle moore~~and Thank You for Your role in the Doors!!

2 weeks ago   ·  3
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Chris BraitchWell done mate. Never apologise for discussing what's important to you. If people stop liking you or your music projects because you care about the murder and displacement of innocent people, then you can probably do without their support!

2 weeks ago   ·  4
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Dennis SullivanThe only difference between what happened to the native americans then and now is they can't kill them anymore. Then you have morons like Ted Nugent who said we should gather them all up and ship them to the country they came from. That would be a short boat trip. When I went to school we weren't taught about the native indians other than the Custer massacre. They are the true natural born Americans. That alone should say it all. Leave them alone.

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Jonathan LongakerRight you are John...wooooh...Boooom...your heart is in the right place, as unpopular as it my be...the fed's were behind most of the crimes...put it all in songs and get 'em out there...I'm not ashamed to be a part of it if you want some tasty guitars and voxs on it...!!!...lemme know...!!!

2 weeks ago
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Sergio RomeroJohn, thanks for sharing this video. I understand that political issues tend to be divisive, but we fans appreciate knowing a bit about what's important to you.

2 weeks ago   ·  3
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Mary Ann PierceHow can you be charged with tresspassing on your own land? Why should they put a pipelline there if the Indians don't want it? When wil we treat the Indians with any respect?

2 weeks ago   ·  1

1 Reply

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Jimmie JamesExactly. How contradictory white America is on immigration. They want to get real honest & technical then they should remove themselves and go back to the original homeland. That would be difficult as they will be treated as immigrants there too. History usually repeats from my experience, I believe that those people that is white America would show the same respect as their ancestors did with the Native Americans and attempt to dominate and conquer over there as well. As for legal trespass, that is a travesty in itself, lol. Who trespassed who's land over 500 years ago??? The world would have been a better place if they stayed in their own backyard and going about their own business without sticking their nose in someone else's business only to cause them a myriad of problems. Over here in Australia it is no different to the USA in this regard . Makes me kind of ashamed to be white. The world really has gone too far with what has become the 21st Century as it is.

2 weeks ago
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Robert Eugene Roman Jr*UPDATE: President Obama temporarily halted the project on Friday, September 9. www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/09/the-obama-administration-temporarily-blocks-the-dakot...

2 weeks ago   ·  8
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Chris HardyI saw a meme that asked how we'd like it if oil companies bulldozed Arlington Cemetery to run a pipeline.

2 weeks ago   ·  5

1 Reply

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Gary SappierWay to SUPPORT John Densmore! Were dealing with it here as well in NB Canada. Same pipeline.

2 weeks ago
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Mark Anthony SpellmanThanks John Densmore for keeping the awareness out there about this travesty :(

2 weeks ago
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Gerhard GüntherThanks to share this! Jon you are totally right with that post. In my mind Jim hit the like it button.

2 weeks ago
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Joe ReyesI watch his show everyday. Lawrence Is fearless tell it like it is! 🙏🏽❤️

2 weeks ago
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Mark Marshall Sr.I'm not being negative, I'm being positively negative. Let us RIGHT our WRONG! The most BRILLIANT and TRUE AMERICANS!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Michael LuckingLawrence tells it as it is, always...He's one of the best ...Will share, thank you

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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James CoxonJust listened to, when the music's over,very poiniant song to what's going on. The doors nailed it years ago.

2 weeks ago
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Devlin Devo Red CrowThank you John for sharing, I am a aboriginal native from the Blackfoot Confederacy that's located in Southern Alberta, Canada.

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Milos MilenkovicAs i allways say, the next president of the u.s. should be a native "american".

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Chris LepreJim certainly would not put up with this desecration..thanks for posting!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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David RamatowskiThat narrative reader would not know the truth if it bled to death on his front lawn.

2 weeks ago
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Erik DiGenioJohn I wanted to inform you that there is a picture circulating facebook of your writers license letter and it has your social security number on it, Just to let you know. I complained and one doors site took it down, but this picture is circulating facebook. I felt it my duty to inform you.

2 weeks ago
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Alex KnightMy only objection is his constant use of "we." Metaphorical, I realize, but too grossly inaccurate and collectivistic to not point out.

2 weeks ago
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Thomas MehlhornThanks for sharing John Densmore

2 weeks ago   ·  3
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