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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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!

Joe Tomasso, Sophie Burba and 23 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 😄😄😄😄

24 hours 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!! :)

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

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

21 hours ago
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AnnaMaria CritelliTony Funches died John. I thought you may want to know.

8 hours ago
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Chris AlbertsonWish I could go but Indiana is far from the whiskey

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

9 hours ago
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Jessi Katie WallerYou are the Best.We Love You!

17 hours ago
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Susan PurselWish I could go

23 hours ago
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Jenna de AlbaI need to move to L.A. already...😭😭😭

1 day ago
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Frank D CalGet together One more time

23 hours ago
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Edo van HeeseHave fun.

19 hours ago
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Alan LordenOught to be a great time! 🙃

1 day ago
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Decembria Dawn SpurgeonHave a great show!! ❤❤❤

1 day ago
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Josh BrownI wish

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

23 hours ago
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Sharon BaumChianna Fisher Clayton Ku please go to this for me

23 hours ago
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Mauro MillerItaly is far from whisky go go :(

18 hours ago
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Bram OrselRoel

18 hours 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

Todd Rodriguez, Tracy Lindley Ramer and 23 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!

2 days ago   ·  5
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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 -

2 days ago
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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

2 days 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

1 day 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.

8 hours 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.

2 days 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

2 days 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

1 day 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!

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

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

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

2 days ago   ·  1
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Gareth BowenMan, your one quarter of the best damn rock band that ever walked the earth

2 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!!

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

2 days 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.

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

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

2 days 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 .

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

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

2 days 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 :)

2 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. 😄

2 days ago
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Jorge C-rMy son and I drove from Palm Springs Ca to Tempe Az to meet you at your book signing, very nice experience, and we would do it again and again!!

2 days 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

2 days ago
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A shot of John using a Rogers kit - Birmingham Stadium in Van Nuys, CA (05-20-67) ... See MoreSee Less

A shot of John using a Rogers kit - Birmingham Stadium in Van Nuys, CA (05-20-67)

Ioannis Aftoiasis, Natale Fecarotta and 23 others like this

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Orosz BalazsThe night you guys showed headliner Jefferson Airplane that you are far more terrific. After your set, audience started to leave... ;)

4 days ago
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Sal De La RosaHappy Fathers Day John!

4 days ago
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Jessi Katie WallerUnknown Soldier, totally Awesome

4 days ago
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Rene RodriguezWhat a picture!!!

3 days ago
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Gibrann Sánchez-Ramos

4 days ago   ·  1
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Rhonda MartinLove you John💙💛💛💙

4 days ago
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Gibrann Sánchez-RamosLive Forever John Densmore!!! 🙇🙇🙇🙇

4 days ago
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Janice Moore ApplegateWingspan

4 days ago
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Roberto Carmonavery rare seeing you using that drumset

4 days ago
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Nadia CelliniI love you Jhon . I love the Doors

4 days ago
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Donatella MunnoBig

4 days ago
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Isabel DoradoAmazing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 days ago
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