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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Agreed indeed JD! Some people take this wrong. It’s not to say, be a timid shriveled flower. There are variables. I believe ego or pompous delivery can be a real turn off. There are certain messages that require an aggressive delivery to be conveyed accordingly though aggressive doesn’t mean you have to be an egotistical jackass about it. Sincerity, whether it be bordering on rage or ultra mellow or any point in between, should be expressed with an open heart rather than a phony front. If you want to reach the hearts of the masses, your own must be open. UBU, firm but true without being full of yourself. So they are not on guard but rather drawn to your truth(groove). Well said Drum Master John! Love on....💫* ~Zehnn

5 days ago
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John you are still the best jazz/rock drummer ever

6 days ago   ·  2
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Nasci em 1975, Em 1989 descobri the doors, Minha vida se transformou desde então! Meu apelido na escola desde 89, Fabio doors e sou reconhecido até hoje! Eu só tenho a agradecer por voces terem feito parte da minha história. Jhon, Receba todo carinho de todos aqui do BRASIL!!!

6 days ago
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Absolutely true. The doors are unlike any other band. The soul, the energy, the message. It’s not something I can put into words, but it’s unique and precious. Lyrics ‘ticking off the possibilities’...the beat, always confident and energizing ...the mercurial keyboard stories and guitar solos. We feel they are all speaking to us personally while supporting one another in a language that is universal.

6 days ago   ·  1
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The doors, strange days, wainting for the sun, soft parade, morrison hotel, la woman ... oooo yeah

6 days ago   ·  1
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GREAT PIC JOHN AND LONG LOVE THE DOORS MY FAVORITE GROUP OF ALL TIME

3 days ago
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My drum teacher had a sign with similar words on his studio desk. However Mr Densmore you did not have a full time string bass player in the Doors so there was never anyone with an over inflated ego in the Doors so you didnt have to deal with that. My experience of bass players is that if they dont send you deaf by sticking their bass amp right up next to your drum kit then theyll all send you crazy when they are hanging around the front door of your house hoping youll invite them in for dinner when you really should be calling the Police.

6 days ago
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How you must sit in wonder

6 days ago
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And this is why the Doors were able to "Break On Through."

6 days ago
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I find many bands are too loyal to their members. You ask "why does your bass player suck"? "Well, he is my brother-in-law". Is not the right answer.

6 days ago
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I disagree, I think ego is central to artistic creation, people relate to themselves.

6 days ago
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I love music,but nothing is lake The Doors.Thank John.

6 days ago
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Nice john

4 days ago
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Magic John

6 days ago
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Very very ... chingon

6 days ago
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A John-ism if I ever heard one!

6 days ago
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L💖VE YA JOHN✨✌

5 days ago
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From the soul, drum beat like heartbeat .....

6 days ago
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Right! Now tell that to Kanye West!!!!!

6 days ago
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THE END....

6 days ago
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Muy muy padre

6 days ago
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Truth

6 days ago
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👆👉the best drummer👈

6 days ago
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so true !

6 days ago
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Quisiera que siguiera joven quiero irlo a ver algún dia

4 days ago
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Another blast from the past ... See MoreSee Less

Another blast from the past

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Both post Doors OK but in retrospect they were treading water. Best post Doors album is the 1st Butts Band album,although best tracks are on second album. From Ray post Doors Down Bound Train is best track by a country mile.

2 weeks ago

1 Reply

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Familiar with it but no Jim no Doors. The two without him were awful.

2 weeks ago   ·  5

5 Replies

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Good rockin and The mosquito. Are my favorites.

2 weeks ago   ·  5

2 Replies

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I love the post Morrison songs. I even have all the 45s from those two albums. Tree Trunk was only on a single. Makes me wonder if some fans do not love music just tight pants?

2 weeks ago   ·  9
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I'm not familiar with this, I'm sorry to say. Was it a concert film? I'd love to see a film of this album!

2 weeks ago   ·  1

1 Reply

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Was this a documentary?

2 weeks ago

1 Reply

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No, the chemistry evaporated, no trace of their original genius. Until, of course, American Prayer....Ray even reported spooky visitations from Jim during the recording sessions. This true, John ?

1 week ago
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So noble & commendable that you guys recorded two more records without replacing Jim. I believe he would've deeply appreciated that!! You three singing on his behalf....class act truly🙏✨ Phenomenal🌎🏹☀️!!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Love the perspective dates graphic. It anticipates the “Star Wars” movie opening narrative! Ahead of the times!

2 weeks ago
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Poster ad for the Full Circle tour. I have the copy of Rolling Stone from Sept. 14,1972 , and the ad is in it. Cool. Thanks for sharing John.

2 weeks ago   ·  4
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John, the dream is really hot and it's time for a new answer. Are you and Robbie ready?

2 weeks ago
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I was at the Ritz theatre show. Flo and Eddie opened up

2 weeks ago
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I enjoy many tracks from Other Voices and Full Circle.

2 weeks ago
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Way Cool 👍 The Doors are the absolute BEST!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Need to get this! 🎼

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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I'd like to aquire a dvd of that.

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Nope not without Jim. This didn't work !!!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Further explored jazz territory. The Mosquito and Piano Bird are my favorites.

2 weeks ago
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Full Circle wasnt Doors. Jims passing erased the Doors.

2 weeks ago
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I enjoyed "Other Voices" & "Full Circle" .....

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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I remember that drive in very well

2 weeks ago
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YOU ROCK JOHN DENSMORE 💖✌ Track 1 is my favorite

2 weeks ago
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All good with coffee in your favorite cup.

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Sorry I agree, No Jim Morrison, no Doors

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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2 weeks ago
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(Museum of Pop Culture - Founders Award Ceremony 12-7-17) Photo Credit: Jim Bennett ... See MoreSee Less

(Museum of Pop Culture - Founders Award Ceremony 12-7-17) Photo Credit: Jim Bennett

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Mighty Foundation(JD)! Backbone of the doors....solid rhythmic platform on which for James Douglas to lean on & to assemble lyrical castles on.....rock on.....*

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Gotta love the logo on that bass drum!

3 weeks ago   ·  4
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love that swing feel on Love me two times, best drumming ever

3 weeks ago   ·  5
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He really is The Doors philosopher 👳‍♀️ His book is like the I Ching: open a page and the wisdom will soothe and enlighten you. Plus drums connoisseur

3 weeks ago   ·  2
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very intense there john!

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Great shot the most underestimated drummer in rock!

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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You and Phil Collins are my favourite drummers

3 weeks ago
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It would appear dear John, you've shrunk!

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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Is the set of drums you played on Ed Sullivan at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas?

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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Great pic. Nice seeing you again.

3 weeks ago   ·  2
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Great photo John.

3 weeks ago   ·  2
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Fantastic drummer absolutely brilliant.

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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Would love to meet you some how someday! Rock on keep the music alive

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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Beautiful photo. Rock on. .

3 weeks ago   ·  2
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Keep Rocking John--Legend🇺🇸😀👍👍🏿🎸

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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Living legend!

3 weeks ago   ·  2
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So would love to meet you and paint while you play .

2 weeks ago
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Great pic beautiful drums.

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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What an amazing photo John! 💙✌

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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Mod Orange, beautiful!

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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Congratulations John

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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John, I dig this pic, wow!!!!

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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The best.. Doors 😎🤙

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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I like playin' the kit & singin' The Doors

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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Spectacular♥️♥️♥️

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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