John Densmore

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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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2 days ago

John Densmore

I went to see Philip Glass's orchestration of David Bowie's "Lodger," and took a photo with Martin Chalifour, the Concertmaster (lead violinist) of the LA Phil (harmonic)...jd ... See MoreSee Less

I went to see Philip Glasss orchestration of David Bowies Lodger, and took a photo with Martin Chalifour, the Concertmaster (lead violinist) of the LA Phil (harmonic)...jd


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Matt Miades

You look great, John!! ❤️ lots of love to you

Cool and on the anniversary of Bowie's tragic passing.

I'd like to hear that! Thanks for sharing!


Looking good jd

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6 days ago

John Densmore

Stewart's drumming for the Police was so perfect, it fit like the tight gloves he wears while playing. What a pleasure to hang with someone who thinks like me. We, skin beaters, all think alike: hi-hat, snare, bass, toms, cymbals... that's how our minds work...jd
Check out Stewart's new show here: Banter
... See MoreSee Less

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You guys both helped craft the music of my childhood; you through The Doors and Copeland through the Spyro soundtrack. Thank you.


There's something on bbc4 tonight with Stewart Copeland and in the clip is shown talking to john so i have set it to record

Grande John

Dan Crowell!

Two of my favorites!💗🎉🌺

"What a pleasure to hang with someone who thinks like me. "

Hugely influential drummer, the mighty Carter Beauford even cites him as an influence esp on the drum track on Grey Street.

Agreeed!! My 2 favorite drummers!!! Keep the drumming coming!!


Mind is blown! My 2 all-time favourite drummers! Awesome!




That's beautiful, man, thanks for sharing!

John’ yes steward is an unbelievable drummer and person’ however your technique and how you play and approach the music has always been an inspiration! Your polyrhythmic and emotional swells on the end’ are always on my mind when I find myself in dark deep drop d tune ing’ both that song and how you played beyond your instrument will resonate forever! Thank you!!

Great drumer!!! I like a lot

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2 weeks ago

John Densmore

Released 52 years ago today (Jan. 4, 1967) #DayOfTheDoors ... See MoreSee Less

Released 52 years ago today (Jan. 4, 1967) #DayOfTheDoors


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I was standing in the kitchen with my mother when "Light My Fire" first came on the radio. "Finally," she said. "Someone who sounds like a man."

52 years later and it's still ahead of its time.

Best debut album ever!

Ahead of it's time musically and lyrically. This masterpiece created a genre all it's own, and nothing since has come close. That genre... "Ladies and Gentlemen from Los Angeles California.... The Doors"!!! Again will never be repeated.

Still my fave album of all time, first cover song I ever learnt was Light My Fire and the band which inspired me to become a musician. The album and band was way ahead of its time as was The Lizard King along with one of the best drummers to ever pick up sticks 😁

I bought a copy that year.. One on my favorites. Plus I performed with Ray Manzarek twice.

And all of your lives were changed forever. It's been a good run. Glad you're still among us. I still miss Jim & Ray.

The best album. This is a masterpiece.....

The Doors and L.A. Woman my two Favorite Doors Albums !!!! 👍

Summer '67 this and strange days changed my world, still digging to this day!

It changed my life when I was 13, in 1994...a few years late for me but it still kills!

I was 15 in 1982 and WXRT Chicago played “The End” while I was listening on headphones. I instinctively turned off the lights and let myself be “transported “. It was in that moment that the Doors became my favorite band of all time. Thank you, Mr. Densmore

Stands the test of time! Timeless classic!

Still sounds fresh today, great debut album.

One of the best debut albums ever. Totally original, unique, nothing like it before or since from the swirling organ to that flamenco/slide guitar to those bossa nova drums and that slick baritone and mesmerizing lyrics. Total classic!!

The album that started it all

One of the very best debut rock albums ever, you guys nailed it, R.I.P. Jim and Ray.

Soul Kitchen is one of my favorite tunes...

I was 14 and this album became my intro to the Doors. ☮️💖

Treasure my original copy

8 months late I attended my first concert ever, which was the Doors at the Village Theater in NYC, which later became the Fillmore East.

The first indication 67 was gonna be a wild ride...

I still have this album I bought in Mono and Stereo! They are Framed and hang in my Music 🎶 Studio Room ..🙀🎼

It still stands the test of time!

Still amazing to listen to. You must still be so proud of your work and your place in rock n roll!

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