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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Robby Krieger’s melodic sense and understanding of song structure were extremely deep. Without him, I can’t imagine what The Doors would have become.” - John Densmore. ... See MoreSee Less

Robby Krieger’s melodic sense and understanding of song structure were extremely deep. Without him, I can’t imagine what The Doors would have become.” - John Densmore.

López Andrés, Chiara Marchetto and 1437 others like this

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Jordan AshThe planets aligned when you guys got together Mr D! Just cannot imagine The Doors without any of you. A much greater balance between the 4 of you than Beatles and Stones. Robby Krieger both melodic and lyrical and I haven't heard anyone since that comes near to his sound.

7 days ago   ·  10
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James WalkerCouldn't agree more, John. Ray said several times that Robby was the Doors' secret weapon. You're a pretty serious badass yourself, however ✌️

7 days ago   ·  6
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Godefridus van der WallenJeez Mr. Densmore, don't scare me like that, saying "WERE extremely deep" ..... For a minute or so I feared our favourite fretmaster had left us !! Thank God I was wrong man.

7 days ago   ·  6
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Piet KramerThe Doors were the sum of all four members, no one excluded. This also goes for mr. Densmore himself. I visited a show by Ray and Robby in Germany some six years ago, performing Doors songs. The singer Dave Brock did a good job, no more no less. But the weak point, in my opinion, was the drumming of Ty Dennis. Although technically a very good drummer, he came nowhere near the characteristic drum sound and style of the Doors, as played by John.

7 days ago   ·  1
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Deborah Martin Lareau2 super talents with too way much humility. Even Robbie's longest solos are always exciting and surprising and satisfying to hear. John Densmore's tempo in "Riders on the Storm" is perfection. It's got a powerful, almost hesitant, uphill feeling. It's so true that each band member was 'equal parts of a diamond'. Thank-you!

3 days ago
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Mike HicksThat's true John...and your superior jazz influenced drumming was equally important as was Ray's remarkable classical/blues hybrid keyboard contributions. The three of you made a truly unique musical backing that Jim was so fortunate to have!

7 days ago   ·  2
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Billy BarbeeWas listening to when the music's over yesterday. Is almost an 11 min song. Amazing how you guys play off eachother! That guitar though, screaming butterfly solo..the distortion sounds amazing! Really great song I've always wanted to say. Just for fun though I want to learn how to play it on the organ.

7 days ago   ·  2
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Joe CottenKreiger's stylings are uniquely his alone – melody and structure; absent are the endless noodlings, repetitions and false notes of so many of his peers. The quantum dynamic was so evident as each player gave the others the room to shine intensely. The effect was profound — never pretentious.

6 days ago   ·  1
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Chris RichardsonSaw Robby and his son at the Simi Valley Blues Festival recently. Still the same shy unassuming guy he always was on stage. The Doors music spoke to me in ways no other band ever has. Thank you.

6 days ago
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Patty GradyI have always maintained the Mr. Krieger is the most underrated guitarist of our time. He always manages the perfect note at the perfect time, no more and no less.

7 days ago   ·  3
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Timothy BarkerYou four guys were to perfect to have had anyone else. You four were destined to make rock in roll history.. One of the best bands ever. I truly love everything you four created it was all liquid gold. Love you guys

5 days ago
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Regina CantoOs senhores foram a junçao de quatro elementos para que a alquimia fosse perfeita.Tinha que ser fantasticos do começo ao fim.Formaram o planeta dos Deuses no Universo do Rock os amo.

6 days ago
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Allen WilsonI have consistently stated that the Doors aren't one of my top three bands JUST for Morrison. They all meal me want to break on through

7 days ago   ·  2
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Linda MoranAll four of you guys made up what I believe to be the BEST band EVER!! so much talent......beyond measure!! Keep on rockin, Robby and John!!

7 days ago
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Nadia GinelleRobbie krieger grande chitarrista....Doors for ever I love you❤

7 days ago
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David Minor GrayDont forget the of a kind nazz rock expressive drumming. Every player in the Doors are unique and brilliant

7 days ago
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Tanner BriningMet John Densmore when I was 16 and saw the Robby Krieger band last year and hung out with his son Waylon Kreiger.

7 days ago
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Louis BovaThe question is "Would John Densmore have played with Jazz musicians instead"?

6 days ago
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Mariana BernardesVocês quatro se completavam. Os Doors nunca iria existir se não fosse assim

6 days ago
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Thomas McGrawone of my favorite guitarists..especially on slide and jazz/spanish lead guitar

4 days ago
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John Figura-MathiesonMost underrated guitarist of all time. I saw him in Nashville back in May. Too bad you were not playing drums with him.

7 days ago
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Barsom ManashianNot a day passes without some Doors on around me. Thanks for the magic!

7 days ago
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Anthony PalangeThe best Rock Band ever you Guys had all the Talent,The Doors were and still are second to none.

7 days ago
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Jorge C-rEach one of you guys had a musical gift, and that's why no one to this day can come even close to sound like The Doors.

7 days ago
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Dane Klassendid robby have input into the production of songs in the studio considering his musical knowledge ?

6 days ago
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It's me, Jim Ladd & a Door's fan going into see Roger Waters...jd ... See MoreSee Less

Its me, Jim Ladd & a Doors fan going into see Roger Waters...jd

Sitka Rose, Majma Mateusz and 1486 others like this

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Patila RossiOMG OMG OMG! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING!!!! you made my day!!!!

2 weeks ago   ·  30

12 Replies

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Bill McKinneyI saw Roger Waters here in Portland last Sunday and King Crimson the week before in Oakland...What wonderful shows to say the least!...Musical art form at it's finest!...As the Doors were back in the day!...Thx so much for the memories I will always cherish!!..Always listen to Jim Ladd on Deep Tracks!

2 weeks ago   ·  4

2 Replies

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Jim LaddIt was great!🌈🎶☮️

2 weeks ago   ·  16

3 Replies

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Nate DorneyGlad to see you out and about, enjoying yourself brother. I know it sounds cliche but if it weren't for The Doors and Pink Floyd, I wouldn't be here today. Your music has been and will always be the soundtrack to my moments of triumph and also to those moments where I gotta break on through. Thank you

2 weeks ago   ·  4
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Marilyn Lingenfelter JamesSaw RW at Staples Center a few weeks ago. Incredible show and special effects. He even came down from stage and shook all of our hands (in front row).

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Marcus MorenoA Doors member is a Pink Floyd fan, my life is complete. ❤️🤘🏻🎼 I just saw the Us + Them tour here in Dallas, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!!

2 weeks ago   ·  3
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Brian PeekJohn Densmore I saw Roger Waters in Las Vegas, and will again next week in Greensboro!! He's so awesome! Show is fantastic! Enjoy! 🎸🎉🥁

2 weeks ago
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Christopher CruzI see similarities between the Doors and the early Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett. Syd and Jim's stories also seem alike to me.

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Tina ArrolloW Robbie Krieger can you tell him how much I love him please!!! 😍😍😍😀😀😀🎸🎸🎸🎸

2 weeks ago   ·  2

1 Reply

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Lorelein AlvarezLloro contigo a distancia Marcos Rodriguez Molas Lopez tan solo pensar q ahi estuve y no lo mire 😭😭😭😭😭😭

2 weeks ago

1 Reply

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Michelle NemitzMy boyfriend & I were walking in our winter home community when we really believe we saw Roger Waters. 🙂

2 weeks ago
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Tim UebbingHow old is the camera being used to take this pic??

2 weeks ago

2 Replies

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Nadia GinelleCiao Jhon! Sei sempre bellissimo......wiva the Doors .....for ever!

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Meni ShapiroTell Roger Israel says "hi" and Shalom

2 weeks ago

2 Replies

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Paula Mott-RiznerOmg wish I could trade places with this girl!! #❤️TheDoors #❤️JohnDensmore

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Pietro MalteseI got tickets to see Roger in September here in N.J. But The Doors will always remain number 1! Thank you John for the great music.

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Aj CardenasReally neat that you gave her a once in a lifetime experience!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Mota GitaI wonder if he is gonna sing, "It's a long way to Tipperary?"

2 weeks ago
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John JoinesAwesome. Lookin good John! A friend saw his show in Kansas City and said it was great.

2 weeks ago
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Chuck ScottI wanna be Jim Ladd when I grow up.

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Paul FlinnerJim Ladd, missing your latenite spinning of music. Big Time.

2 weeks ago
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Johann BrownHa, two of my fav bands, how awesome is that!

2 weeks ago   ·  3
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Itay ItayGo to hell roger waters. Cheers from israel.

2 weeks ago
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Gayle WilmouthThis is awesome

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Barbara Lindgren Thomas🎸🎸🎸🎸🎸🎵🎧🎧🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶😊

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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