John Densmore

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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 habituΓ© 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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3 days ago
John Densmore

“I remember thinking that there sure was some potential here. I knew Jim was special right away because of his words...”

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
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β€œI remember thinking that there sure was some potential here. I knew Jim was special right away because of his words...”

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

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Yes he was something special but so were you, Robby and Ray putting that music behind his words. I really can't think of a more perfect match. Thank you.

A band is a collection of talents. No doubt Jim was destined for success, but The Doors is such a creative mix, where each member brought such an invaluable contribution.

I’d guess that this was taken during recording of first or second albums. I’d lean toward 1st album.

Turns out you were right, man !!!! I’m glad you guys realized your potential !!!!

I recall opening for you guys when you played @ Beverly Hills High. Right when you started to peak. You, Robbie, Ray we’re totally approachable & circumspect about how your lives were drastically changing. Jim was totally aloof & kept to himself. At that time - mid ‘67, you had to use our drum set. Great memories, John! I thoroughly enjoyed your book BTW! Be well, Brother!

Great band firing on four cylinders! A rare occurrence….

There was potential cause of all of you. You have the best recorded drums of the entire 60s. Your beats and ability to reflect or mirror Jim's words gave the band the most unique sort of talk between singer and drummer and drove the band into an almost other plain. Robby's slide guitar was a complete oddity for back then. His masterful skills gave the band a sitar like quality to the music. I can't say enough about Ray, what an incredible inventive keyboard player he was. He made all the other 60s organists sound like they were playing a toy. All of you are and will forever be special. I consider The Doors as the greatest American rock band to ever have been created on this side of the world. Equally as impressive and mythological as the mighty Beatles themselves. βœŒπŸ˜‰

Definitely wrote some interesting lyrics. Great imagery love your songs 🎡 ❀️

The Doors were all special. I want to thank you for the best music ever. I loved and still love the Doors from the first .

Yes he was unique you are all unique what a band the Doors love listening and watching you guys love from Usha Kelly xo❀️

Oh how i love those pants

You are the Doors John. Innovative.

Jim was actually very lucky he connected with you guys and vis versa. It must have been some wild ride becoming so famous (and perhaps too much) πŸ’š

The doors forever

Every one of you were a special talent all of your own

Your rhythms and his voice were like poetry togetherοΏΌοΏΌ.

Wish I could have seen you guys live!!!

John walked with Dionysus.

Jim’s words…Yes indeed. They ignite our souls still. They always will. πŸ’•

The best 🀘

Sing a song sweet mountain man

No one else could have improvised to Jim’s words like you did. πŸ˜€

What an epic picture!😍

Sim πŸ‘♥οΈπŸ‘

Terrific picture.

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1 week ago
John Densmore

Since Shepard Fairey was in my hometown, doing one of his fabulous murals, I thought he needed some help! -JD

(Photo Credit: Johnny Furlong)
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Yeah he really needs help! Looking good JD!

I honestly have no idea how anyone can paint a mural and keep it proportional. Your perspective must be very hard to stay on top of. Looks great.

Even though you are not the artist there is something wonderfully communal about working on a mural. I worked on a crew in San Francisco withe the Youth Conservation Corp as a volunteer and it was the highlight of my summer. Murals are the art of the people!

Hey John, love your groove.

you are a great artist and we love you!!!πŸ₯°πŸ₯°

Love the pictures John whoever was taking them did a fantastic job a couple of them could be paintings

Great πŸ‘πŸ» looking good

John Densmore you look great!

Some might say John Densmore is my biological uncle! Live forever, rkid! πŸ’š

John Densmore what an “artist “man of many talent’s sending my love from Usha Kelly xo❀️

Love these photos!

Looks cool. . They do similar in Leicester x

Love ya John. The Doors changed my life for the better forever. Opened my mind and soul to endless possibilities.



Awesome. Shep's a wonderful guy!

Paint, Paint πŸ”₯

Was he happy with your help?

No comment

Hey John Densmore still cool as ever 🌻

Marie LaSalle


Cindy Lou!!!!! πŸ’œ

Show us your work!

Gr8 artist!

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