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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2 weeks ago
John Densmore

An outtake of John reading from "The Seekers: Meetings With Remarkable Musicians (And Other Artists)" in a forthcoming documentary by Justin Kreutzmann called, 'LET THERE BE DRUMS!'

found.ee/TheSeekersAudio
#TheSeekers
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Such a fan ❤️

Just finished reading your book mate, really enjoyed it, always loved your Drum sound.

Great book John 🙏🎶

Hope you do some virtual book tour dates.

Love you, John! You've got a unique energy about you - Iooking forward to attending anything you'll be signing at in the future..book tours, shows, etc 🙂

Awesome John. Need to hear from you more often.

JD, weve got a few more shows in us left...

Swedish pancakes

You are a brilliant artist

Charlie Watts. Mickey Hart's got a book too

Glad you share your stories. Your life is truly interesting. ✌️♥️🎶😎

I love when you said our mothers heartbeat is the first instrument we heard♥️🎹🎺🪘🎷

Great book!

Sos un grande John !!

Nice!

My autographed copy is on its way cant wait! Much love Sir❤️

Bises john

Hope to hear back from you...☮️

Tell All The People that you see, We'l be free, follow me down.

Thank you all for ye music

Dios te ilumine siempre john😘😘

Beautiful, John.

Great to hear from you, John! 👍

Mark Patton

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3 weeks ago
John Densmore

A lyric from Jim for Earth Day:

"The human race was dyin' out, No one left to scream and shout
People walking on the moon, Smog will get you pretty soon Ship of Fools... Ship of Fools"
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Now the human race is dying of a virus ... and they are sending robot on Mars... We still haven't learned to take care of planet earth :'(

It seems Stephen King was listening to this song when he wrote The Stand . In the uncut edition of the book Jim Morrison makes an appearance also. Now we have Captain Tripps , aka C - 19 ; all kinds of activities on Mars and the Moon ; environmental concerns ; political and social problems . It's kind of like the 60's again , just on a different scale . All anyone can do is have a little fun before they die . Rock n Roll.

How very true these words are. Jim was a true genius , Happy Earth Day John 💚🌏💙

Live version during the concert in New York was great. Still relevant today.

Love Jim...RIP please visit Joe..he and I loved you all

I was cranking this song all the time when Covid hit. Jim had a Synconicty way of seeing into the eye of the future. Just like that photo of him in Paris at the cafe with the napkin like a mask covering his face and nose. He was beyond a genius and very under appreciated by his bandmates during their time as a band based on excessive drinking, being late to concerts. and we all know about Miami, the behavior and antics at times that wrecked the touring. "Everyone was hanging out Hanging up and hanging down Hanging in and holding fast Hope our little world will last Yeah, along came Mr. Goodtrips Looking for a new a ship Come on, people better climb on board Come on, baby, now we're going home"-Jimbo

I was born in 98, too late to see the Doors live. Discovered the Doors thru skating in the early ‘10s and still wish I had a time machine to see y’all live. Cheers to The Doors, your music will never die. I will pass it on thru my Children.

Just had this song come up in Spotify a bit ago.... Very weird and cool coincidence!

Wow. Jim was incredible. 😇

Jim definitely was in tune with a lot more than some people realize. It’s been over 5 decades since my Dad bought me the first Door’s album. I’m still amazed at how good it is and all the ones to follow.

Lucas D. Rodríguez 👏 Way to go, dear sir. Jim made this and other statements that were surely ahead of it time. Electronics, internet, social media, just to mention a few...I wonder how he would react by knowing all his beliefs became a reality

1990 I was a neighbor of John. Have lived in Munich, Nymfhenburg Road. Germany. Opposite Rosekreuz Hospital.He likes to play drums in the afternoon 3-4 o'clock

Thanks John .....its a pleasure to read your posts......

Jim Morrison et vous Mr Densmore , Kriegger and Manzarek fut le groupe que j’écoutais nuit et jours de mes 12 ans a aujourd’hui , souvent seul , me laissant bercer par votre musique et votre poésie .. Morrison , the Lizard King !..🙂

Let, s swim to the moon... It, s my favorite line

🎼the human race was freaking out They began to scream & shout Acting crazy as a loon Coronavirus gonna get you pretty soon🎼

One of my favorite songs that one and The Spy

such a great song.

I have tell you John, during interviews you mention Jim’s addiction and the lack of help for his disease. I hope you realize that calling someone “a drunk” is an antiquated horrible description. Just so you know....

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, man... But before this whole shithouse goes up in flames, I’m gonna get my kicks”

He will sing it again live with you

Pretty apt for today's world really.

Thanks John. Really touched by the interview when you said you still talk to Jim.

Those are some great lyrics for sure 🎶

I think people are naturally selfish. I suffer from depression so I see selfishness in people all the time. Though I don't think people realise how selfish they are.

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