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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Luis F. Cruz, Zach McCurry and 1009 others like this

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Tommy VanPoola,wesome pic,man cant believe your journey,its so good to see this pic..look great man just in awe ...

4 days ago
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Jorge CRMy son and I drove from Palm Springs Ca to Tempe Az to meet you Sr and get our books signed back in December 2014!! It was an honor to meet you!!!

4 days ago
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Michael Peter HansenLight my fire was used in a television commercial in san jose california 1979-1981

4 days ago
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Christopher CruzHappy belated birthday. When might we expect a new Tribaljazz album?

3 days ago
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Peter DupeyHappy belated birthday John...thanks for the great music.

4 days ago
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Katie WallerYou Guys created ever lasting Magic with your great talent.

3 days ago
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Frank van der Burgnjoy bro.....run da plan...u main....fan...noo...n...nee... cuzinha das almas ...perdidas? f

4 days ago
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Daniele MicucciShock jim Morrison alive

1 hour ago

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Mo Jangles..very regal, man..

3 days ago
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John Paul McDougallGroovy and cool as always Mr Densmore.

4 days ago
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Jeff SchnarrHappy Birthday John

4 days ago
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Yo C KoVery cool!

4 days ago
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Susie BowersI love your picture John

4 days ago
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Ava CrawfordDigging it.

4 days ago
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Erik DiGenioJOHN !

4 days ago
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Erwin ArellanoI take off my hat before your genius!

3 days ago
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Celso GuzellaThank you for all !!

3 days ago
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Bryan Sammers

4 days ago
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Uriel TorresYou are the best John. RESPECT 😎😎😎

4 days ago
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Mariana BernardesHappy Birthday!! From Brazil !! :)

4 days ago
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Abel Issathe best!

4 days ago
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Colin VoerdingGlad you're still here. Keep on keepin on

4 days ago
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Stefano MonachinoThe doors for ever

4 days ago
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SlckEvr EvertonGod blessed you for ever and ever, John!

3 days ago
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Adriana SagasteguiSO GOOD.

4 days ago
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