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 habituรฉ 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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6 days ago

John Densmore

(Photo Credit: Paul Ferrera) ... See MoreSee Less

(Photo Credit: Paul Ferrera)

 

Comment on Facebook

Love those ๐Ÿ˜ drums Man

Best drummer.

Recording session? Which album?

John big fan, saw the Doors at my High School summer of 67. Also I think you were friends with my late brother in law David Langer ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐ŸŽถ

I have the drumsticks you gave me way back in the 60s. You are still my favorite.

I see the great Gretsch WMP kit in action. First album recording session?

So handsome...and such power in your drumming technique โค๏ธ

The master.

Legendary

John, thank you for being an influence to me.

Genial

Moody!

From the way John's holding his sticks, he must be laying down that mean Latin beat of his.

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3 weeks ago

John Densmore

L.A. Woman!John Densmore performing L.A. Woman with the LAPhilharmonic Sept. 27, 2018. Conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Vocals by Chris Martin. ... See MoreSee Less

Video image

 

Comment on Facebook

I would like to ear the part of Mrs.Mojo Risin

That was a good watch, John thank you! I am currently watching the soundstage performances on DVD. I really want you guys to rework the mastering of the Critique show(Denmark too!). You guys sound great(although flat technology wise) and I feel it may be a gem if reworked sound wise and HD wise like Bruce did with Hollywood Bowl and IOW. They sound almost as if the recording was with current technology. Any plans of reworking this great performance, John?

John, that was wonderful - thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚

Just what Jim always wanted, to be played in an elevator.

That's not my Cup of Tea - i love the Doors-Version, where Jim put all his energy into it.

Fantastic John! Love you and the Doors! Hug from Brazil!

Well, that was interesting! How come Robby wasn't at this gig? L.A. Woman has always been my favorite Doors tune and it is because of John's fantastic drumming! ๐Ÿ˜

John busted on Robby and Ray doing 21C but puts out this crap?? 21C was 1000 million times better.

Matheus Guilherme Angonese

Dream come true

Love it, thanks mister Densmore

Brillante.

Muito bom D+ ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Chingona rola pero el vocalista le falto.

Great!!!! Who is the singer?

I wish (Motel money murder madness Let's change the mood from glad to sadness Mister mojo risin', mister mojo risin' Mister mojo risin', mister mojo risin' Got to keep on risin' Mister mojo risin', mister mojo risin' Mojo risin', gotta mojo risin' Mister mojo risin', gotta keep on risin' Risin', risin' Gone risin', risin' I'm gone risin', risin' I gotta risin', risin' Well, risin', risin' I gotta, wooo, yeah, risin' Woah, ohh yeah) would have been included. Just seems too integral to be omitted. Taboo like...

omg awesome!!! ๐Ÿ˜ป๐Ÿ˜ป๐Ÿ˜ป

Proud of u John -THANASI

Excelente!!! Siempre es un placer escucharte a ti john densmore y la musica que creaste con the doors.

spattacolare!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Luv how you keep it fresh and introducing it to the next generation John, especially in this format, btw a currently have this CD in my car, it's such a great blues album, I haven't really listened to the whole CD since the 80's, btw still have the lp also, god bless

Jim Morrison and the sensational Doors love Forever

Just watched the DVD ‚the story of L.A. Woman‘ on the way home from a gig. What a wonderful album! Thanx to The Doors and Mr. Densmore โ˜ฎ๏ธ

I guess this is what the end looks like

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