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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2 days ago
John Densmore

RIP Ronnie Tutt... Elvis's drummer (played with Jerry Scheff who played bass on LAWoman)...jd

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RIP Ronnie Tutt... Elviss drummer (played with Jerry Scheff who played bass on LAWoman)...jd

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He played with Jerry Band, Roy Orbason, Neil Diamond and others too. He was legendary.

I keep finding out more and more about the depth of his career definitely a great loss to music

Love Elvis & The Doors!

He was an incredible drummer.

Just listen to that opening riff from any Elvis show in the 70's, Ronnie was a bad dude

My father was an amazing jazz drummer who played like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa and so did you. Ronnie played so tight and powerful like you. I taught young musicians humanities at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in DC and am looking for a hardcover book signed and written by you and is your favorite book about you and the Doors. Thank you for inspiring me to play more drums and music in general. The Doors will always be my favorite band because each of you was so unique in tastes and styles.

Wow, 1984 in Denver w Neil Diamond ..he brought his electric drums and Diamond didnt like the sound. Legends

Dude he was a crazy-ass drummer I was watching the old concert footage the other day and him and Elvis would follow each other and and do crazy back and fourth you could tell they were having a great time Rip Ronnie.πŸ™πŸ»

RIP, great drummer for lots of artists!

Ronnie also lays it down on Gram Parsons’ seminal album Grievous Angel

RIP. Now, talking about Jerry, it'd be nice to see him, you and Robbie jamming again. Also, for a sec I imagined how would it have been hearing Elvis sing L.A. Woman...

Oh Man he was great Just fabulous! God bless you Ronnie. πŸ™πŸ™

I met Ronnie once years ago. He was cool, and generous with his time and stories about his life and Elvis. R.I.P.

The Live from Hawaii by Satellite concert was epic. We sure will miss him. Love ya John

RIP, King of Drums...

I am listening to L.A. Woman and scrolling and see this post. He had a wild ride and im sure a full incredible life. Ill toast in his honor tonight.

Jerry Scheff is top 5 best rock bass players.

Aawwhh man. Another great one lost to time. RIP

great drummer.. rest easy ronnie

Charlie, Ronnie…an other great drummer πŸ™πŸΌπŸ₯

Rest Peacefully Ronnie

Loved watching and hearing him play on Patch It Up

R.I.P. GREAT drummer!!!

LA Woman. The Swan song of the Doors. If only the magic could have continued.

RIP brother

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