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 habituรฉ 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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6 days ago
John Densmore

Jim's rebel yell ignited the band. Riffs exploded off Robby's guitar; Ray went into his hypnotic head-bobbing trance, and I drove the soloist, pushing him to the edge. Always the edge.

-John Densmore
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Jims rebel yell ignited the band.  Riffs exploded off Robbys guitar; Ray went into his hypnotic head-bobbing trance, and I drove the soloist, pushing him to the edge.  Always the edge.

-John Densmore

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Greatest band that ever rocked the face of the earth thank you John Densmore !

No one could scream like Morrison!

My first concert outside the local YMCA was seeing The Doors at the Allen Theater in Cleveland, Ohio. Friday February 13, 1970. Second show.

You guys were incredibly able to have your own musical identity and there’s no mistaking a Doors groove. I believe cause you were coming from a Jazz drummers approach to rock it had its own unique sound ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜ฎ๏ธโค๏ธ

Doors were a great band

Iconic band. Brilliant drummer.

I’ve had dreams of talking and encouraging Jim prior to his shows.

Live at my high school in Danbury, CT which was only two years old at the time! Fortunately the indent Jim left on the stage was still there when I graduated in 2002.

So happy to have lived in a life where The Doors exists. Thank you John, for all that joy given to the world.

I learned quite a bit about drumming from you by listening, and watching videos of your performances. You taught me how to hold my sticks, and setting the tempo. You were a huge influence to me as a drummer. Now if I could only get When the Music's Over right.

When people bring up the Beatles, time and time again, as being the best band, I tell them they don't hold a candle to The Doors! And John Densmore is the best drummer I ever heard especially when it came to following the theatrics of Jim Morrison.

Most noted were his precise Timing and on-que drumming for "The End", "When The Music's Over" and the Absolutely Live "Not To Touch the Earth"!! Just Fantastic!! FAR OUT!! Thanks John!!!

Nice shot and words! It’s otherworldly, seeing no drum mics. That’s unheard of today. And interesting to see a mic next to Robby, I don’t recall ever noticing him singing if or talking onstage until the doors of the 21st century. I dig the 2 twin reverbs and the bassman, pre acoustic Corp equipment

I love playing along with your drumming John lots of fun! Awesome drummer!!

Here is another from that concert.

It was contagious John! As was the summer of Love!! Was just coming of age. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

The greatest band ever out of SoCal.

A ground breaking drummer bringing the jazz touch and feel to rock.

John I love your drumming since I was very young. You are great.

Thank you for all the amazing music John!

Thank you John, I've read your books as you've published them and I've lived my life according to your mantra.

Hey John, you knew my brother Scott at Duttons, thanks for signing my book, all the best to you! Have always loved your music!

What a line..your the man John..electric explosive ignitor of a drummer!

Amazing photo. That moment must have been incredible energy

The stuff you did during the The End changed the way I looked at drummers. Most drummers never actually capture and contribute to the mood of a song. They're either timekeepers or bashers. You were unique.

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3 weeks ago
John Densmore

John and Ray laying down the rhythm on this early demo version of "Riders" recorded at Sunset Sound Studios. This and other gems will be featured on the 50th Anniversary Deluxe Version of The Doors L.A. Woman release available Dec. 3, 2021.
Pre-order thedoors.lnk.to/50LAWoman
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I love this version. It's especially fantastic to hear "new" Doors music. The Sunset Sound version has a jazzy feel to it.

This is fabulous. Almost impossible to have an absolute favourite doors track but this always has to be right up there for me. Love this ‘work in progress’ ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Nice. Jim's voice is very smooth, relaxed. I love this version.

That was awesome Ray Manzarek sounded amazing

Awesome. Thanks for making this available in advance

Wow thanks I sure remember sunset sound with fond memories…bless โœจ๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ™๐ŸŽƒ

Amazing. Thank you for this.

Wow, this is absolutely wonderful news! Thank you very much, John! You rock! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hi, I've always wondered what Jim Morrison said in the minute 2:54 of "Waiting for the sun", Can anyone help me?

The upcoming 50th Anniversary collection is worth it for this track alone. If "Riders on the Storm," is "cocktail music," then cocktail music is way under-rated.

I love the sound of the drums. They just feel fresh and alive. I know you're playing basically the same as on the LP version but the "sound" feels like I'm right there in the room with you. Love it!

Im excited I ordered it and going to the movie

Can't wait! Will be my own gift for Christmans..

GRANDI!

Guido Lo Giudice

Ksenia Semikhatova

Lewis Inglis

โค

๐Ÿ‘

Into this house, we're born Into this world, we're thrown Like a dog without a bone An actor out on loan

En ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท amamos los doors ๐ŸŽน๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿทโค

Arsen - check out this gem

Yayeah!

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