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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All of us rockers stand on the shoulders of the man who invented the 'duck walk.' Hail, hail Chuck Berry...jd ... See MoreSee Less

All of us rockers stand on the shoulders of the man who invented the duck walk.  Hail, hail Chuck Berry...jd

Hassan Erenler, Andrew Smiciklas and 2406 others like this

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Mark KocolWonder if John net Chuck at the Toronto R&R Revival in 1969?

1 week ago   ·  3

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John DoylerChuck berry had a tremendous Influence on the Beachboys, and other musicians as well. you have listen to Surfin USA , Fun Fun Fun and you will know that their is that Chuck berry Element in their Songs . A True musical legend. R.I.P. Chuck Berry.

1 week ago   ·  1

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Stephen ShackellHe will always keep "reeling and a rocking". A true icon, and his music will live on forever. On a lighter note, Im glad that his cousin " Marvin" was at the enchanted under the sea dance, to tell Chuck about the new sound he was looking for! Just think if he didnt cut his hand trying to unlock the trunk, Marty wouldnt have gotten his chance to play "an oldie but a goodie" lol But Chuck will be missed, but never forgotten. Thank you Chuck for the soundtrack of my youth!!

1 week ago   ·  1
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Brendon Eric PetersA True musical legend ,,,Roll over beethoven....WhenThe Beatles adopt a song from you ...You know your the Best!!!

1 week ago   ·  2
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Michael AultThe true King of Rock and Roll. Elvis was simply an impostor.

1 week ago

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Galen KogutDid you guys ever get the chance to meet him, John?

1 week ago   ·  1

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Paul MullenThought he was going to live forever. Goobye legend!

1 week ago   ·  1
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Jamie CrampThink Ray,s Downbound Train was the best thing I heard him do post Doors.

1 week ago
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Admir MustaE Muerto el mejor guitarrista del Mundo y tambien Era un grand cantante CHUCK BERRY . Un otro Estrellia si'e Apagado

1 week ago
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Jake GritzmacherChuck's spirit will live on eternally! ¡Viva Viva Rock 'n' Roll!

1 week ago   ·  1
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Paul FlemingSome good songs good performer, also armed robber ,child rapist tax evader and peeping tom let's not glorify him

1 week ago
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Levg Diters SunViva, viva Chuck Berry!!!

1 week ago
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Peter ReidMaybe Morrison needed that sound for something

1 week ago   ·  1
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Kondua Alberto da Costarip Chuck berry

1 week ago
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Ralph RuizHe was at k berry farm in the 70s he was great!!

1 week ago
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Tyme RyderRIP Chuck. You will be missed greatly

1 week ago
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Attila Thurzó

1 week ago   ·  1
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Jerome ThillA legend!

1 week ago   ·  1
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Anthony LampkinBest driving music . Rocknroll poet and entertainer

1 week ago   ·  1
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Marco Antonio Arvizues el bueno

1 week ago
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Djordje TodosijevicJohnny by good!! R.I.P.

1 week ago
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Daniel WestR.I.P. MR.BERRY

1 week ago   ·  1
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Clarisse CarvalhoSalve!

1 week ago
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Robert Eugene Roman JrHe lives on in every rocker, JD.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Ron Klatt:-(

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