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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Tony Funches epitomized soul. He loved music and worked with some heavyweights (Stones, Doors, etc.) He had the not-easy task of trying to keep Jim (Morrison) out of trouble. I was extremely fortunate to connect with Tony a few years ago, after a long absence. It was a blessing. He was articulate, progressive, and funny! RIP, JD ... See MoreSee Less

Tony Funches epitomized soul.  He loved music and worked  with some heavyweights (Stones, Doors, etc.)  He had the not-easy task of trying to keep Jim (Morrison) out of trouble.  I was extremely fortunate to connect with Tony a few years ago, after a long absence.  It was a blessing.  He was articulate, progressive, and funny!  RIP, JD

Brian Deschamps, Kevin Donovan and 1189 others like this

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Lynne LakeTony Funches was a mentor of mine. He taught me so much and I really came to depend on his posts to keep me informed. He always stood for what was right in this country and against what was wrong. I had the great honor of being his Facebook "friend" and he will be missed. 😪 💙

4 days ago   ·  3
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Miriam DaveyEverything I've ever read about him and written by him led me to think he was a great guy and someone I'd enjoy having met. RIP , big guy!

4 days ago   ·  2
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Brian CahillThats a great picture john i guess he was a special and important person to all of you, may he sleep well. Love from scotland.

4 days ago
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Michael StevensHe was "progressive"? Meaning that he was for making progress towards destroying liberty and the traditional fundamentals that make America historically the greatest country ever founded?

5 days ago   ·  1

11 Replies

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Thomas StrawJob description: Drink with Jim. Great work if you can get it! :-)

5 days ago   ·  4

1 Reply

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Linda LaurenI miss Tony Funches with all my heart. He was a dear personal friend...and Uncle Tony to all. RIP 💜

4 days ago   ·  4
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Melanie WestbrookI can imagine Tony and Jim having a couple of cold beers up there. :)

4 days ago   ·  2
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Salli StevensonTony was a magnificent person. There is/was nobody like him. Glad you and Tony could get together, John.

4 days ago   ·  1
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Prostoleteči KosAnyone that walked with The Doors, can legitimately expect free drinks in my bar, If I had one.

5 days ago   ·  1
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Bedrich MohrOne hell of a job trying to keep up with Jim Morrison. He should of gotten a medal

4 days ago   ·  1
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Shari Blake FainI am so sorry for your loss. I am glad you had the opportunity to reconnect! 💜🎶💜

4 days ago
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Santiago Martin Lafulla GianossiYou are amazing Robby. Grettings from Argentina the best country to the world

4 days ago
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William BoornTony & Babe seemed to protect me too at14 as I read & learned about The Doors

5 days ago

1 Reply

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Jim SiderisAny "buddy" of The Doors, is a buddy of mine. I wish I had met him. Deeply sorry for your loss guys.

4 days ago
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Lucille Bonamo LandrySo nice that you got to reconnect with him! RIP TF 🇺🇸

5 days ago
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Joseph BuckleyGeez, the poor fellow's not wearing a "Bernie" T-shirt is he???

4 days ago
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Dane KlassenNice hat you guys met up again ! , would love to hear his stories

4 days ago
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Wendy ZeitlerTony i will always miss you.

5 days ago   ·  1
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Peter DupeyRIP Tony.....now you are with Jim and Ray.

4 days ago   ·  1
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Michelle FreemanSo sorry for your loss, John.

5 days ago
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Das DebjaniRIP

4 days ago   ·  1
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Lawrence A. Bolger Jr.The after life is gonna be freakin Awesome. RIP.

4 days ago
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Andy GomezSorry for your Loss Mr.Densmore,I bet he had some great stories

5 days ago
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Pete KonsevitchMay he RIP

4 days ago
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Richard Jason Jenkinson SpicerAww all sad 😢 RIP.

4 days ago
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I'm sitting in tonite at 10PM PST with the Playing For Change band at the Whisky A Go-Go. If you are in the L.A. area, hope you can make it! ... See MoreSee Less

Im sitting in tonite at 10PM PST with the Playing For Change band at the Whisky A Go-Go.  If you are in the L.A. area, hope you can make it!

Bev Taillon, Richard Brancaccio and 181 others like this

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Gibrann Sánchez-RamosAlexia Permiee tu que andas en L. A. Ve a conocer a papá Densmore al Wiskey A go go!!! Creo que tocará hoy en un evento especial 😄😄😄😄

6 days ago   ·  1

1 Reply

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Jason KonradHave a fantastic show!! Hope to see you in Vegas sometime... my son and I had a blast at your book signing a few years ago out here! Best Wishes!! :)

6 days ago
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Chase Bryson SingletonI'd love to see you and Robbie do something together this year! 😃❤️ 50th anniversary tour.

6 days ago   ·  6
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Katy MurphyOmg I would love to see you play John!!! The Whisky.. too kewl! Have a great show 💙✌

6 days ago
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AnnaMaria CritelliTony Funches died John. I thought you may want to know.

6 days ago
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Chris AlbertsonWish I could go but Indiana is far from the whiskey

6 days ago
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Eliseo Hernandez OrtegaThanks! maybe send us a picture ok,? And have a great time!

6 days ago
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Jessi Katie WallerYou are the Best.We Love You!

6 days ago
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Jenna de AlbaI need to move to L.A. already...😭😭😭

6 days ago
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Susan PurselWish I could go

6 days ago
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Frank D CalGet together One more time

6 days ago
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Edo van HeeseHave fun.

6 days ago
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Tommy VanPoolMan I'm in Oklahoma I want beeee therreee

5 days ago
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Alan LordenOught to be a great time! 🙃

6 days ago
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Decembria Dawn SpurgeonHave a great show!! ❤❤❤

6 days ago
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Josh BrownI wish

6 days ago
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Chris FieldsPlease perform and tour with Robbie Robby Krieger for Rock Against MS this year John Densmore.

6 days ago
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Sharon BaumChianna Fisher Clayton Ku please go to this for me

6 days ago
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Mauro MillerItaly is far from whisky go go :(

6 days ago
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Bram OrselRoel

6 days ago

1 Reply

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I can't always respond individually to your private messages and posts, but I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all my well wishers...jd ... See MoreSee Less

Bev Taillon, Chris Haravitsidis and 847 others like this

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Wes EddieLove you, John. Thank you for your music, and your wisdom. Your Filmore concert bill from 1967 hangs in my office. I think of The Doors every day. Funny to think, I was born in 1972. Your music is timeless. I love following your posts and listening to your interviews. Peace and love, brother!

1 week ago   ·  6
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Katy MurphyI'm sure you cannot keep up with so many people...it is just always great to hear from you John. Thank you for the books, I always look forward to a new one 😉 and of course the music! Sending love and blessings xx

1 week ago
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LaLonnie LeeTake care - I admire you and know you have a good heart. Tony admires you so much and you staying in touch with him has meant a lot to him. I am sick because I haven't been able to see him in awhile; he was weak then. I miss talking to him - always full of stories. Thank you, John, for your gift of song -

1 week ago
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Tom YemmA request--that you reprise your essay in The Nation, explaining why we don't hear music of The Doors selling the likes of Cadillacs, etc. Band democracy big time. Thanks

7 days ago
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Igor RapoWe love the guy (and his Doors brother, Robbie) but lest we for get: he never even wanted to be a Door ! Spent a lot of time cosying up to Arthur Lee's Love. Glad Jim spotted this.

6 days ago
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James LopezI love your filling on Light My Fire. And the dramatic, exciting crescendo drumming at the climactic end of the song.

1 week ago   ·  1
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Audrey SevenI agree with Ginger , Thank you for all u have brought to r lives with ur music . I just watched " The Doors "The Doors " Last night . Again Thank You John

1 week ago
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Greg LaMartinaI have loved the doors since I was a young boy and I heard light my fire come on the radio. It's great to be able to follow you John. Thanks

7 days ago
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Carolyn Reed CateJohn we just appreciate that you post and even sometimes reply. I had the pleasure of meeting you at a book signing in Charleston SC in2014 and you were so patient with each fan and I was really impressed with your down to earth personality that I will never forget so thank you so much for being so caring towards all of us who love your work!

1 week ago
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Ginger CatapanoIt's okay John; just knowing that you read them is an honor!

1 week ago   ·  2
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Frank D CalDensmore battled the Jimitator and never sold out.

1 week ago   ·  2
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Rodrigo RubenJohn sos lo máximo y te lo voy a decir por mensajes también

1 week ago   ·  1
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Ken Cranei can't say i love you, but i yam awfully fond of ye! (one marching band to another!)~

2 days ago
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Gareth BowenMan, your one quarter of the best damn rock band that ever walked the earth

7 days ago
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Warren PelserLegend! If only you knew how The Doors and your work inspired my journey with music... Thank you!!

1 week ago
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Pat MurrayIf I drummed for the Doors, I wouldn't either hah. Thanks for being humble.

1 week ago
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Dan ShepherdIt's great that you have an online presence and that you spare time for us John. Thanks for your music. It's a joy forever.

1 week ago
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Peter TymchukI'm always thinking about you and the Doors. Especially the music contribution to this generation.

1 week ago
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Bedrich MohrMeeting you and Ray was a big honor I will never forget. Thank you. All Hail The. DOORS

1 week ago
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Tom MaloneThanks for your brilliant drumming John, and taking the stand you did against THE DOORS music being used in commercials .

1 week ago
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Anatol HanauMuch love and appreciation for a heart filled with music for a lifetime from Berlin ❤❤❤

1 week ago
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Paula Mott-Rizner<3 you to the moon and back!!!!! I've got "Soul Kitchen" set as my ringtone so everyday the doors are on my mind :)

1 week ago
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Byron TaylorThank you for signing my book the other night. Looking forward to the new one !

7 days ago
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Paulo César LinsHi John! Just say "hello" to me and you'll make me happy. I'm from São Paulo, Brazil. 😄

1 week ago
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Erick HoviousIf you only knew the impact the doors have had on my life I've been a fan for 30 years and still listen

1 week ago
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