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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2 days ago
John Densmore

Happy Birthday Ron Kovic (Born on the 4th of July)! respect, john d.

#RonKovic #bornonthe4thofjuly #VietnamWar
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Happy Birthday Ron Kovic (Born on the 4th of July)!  respect, john d.

#RonKovic #bornonthe4thofjuly #VietnamWar

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Happy Birthday Ron! I spoke with you at your screening of "Born on the 4th of July" a few years ago.

Ron Kovic...injured, paralyzed but overcame all to serve America with strength, integrity and patriotism. Salute soldier!

Happy Birthday!! I salute you Ron your amazing courageous man!!

Happy birthday ron

Happy Birthday Ron, thinking of you brings me back to our VVAW days. You were and still are a true Patriot!

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday Ron! My wife and Ron come from Massapequa. We chatted with him at Old Tony’s . He is a hero!!!

Happy Birthday Ron Kovic & Semper Fi Marine.

Happy Birthday Ron!

Happy birthday from Italy dear Ron

Have a Happy Birthday and 4th of July! Thank you for your service and sharing your remarkable life story. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฒ

Happy birthday Ron!! Thank you for being you!

Happy Birthday Ron!

Happy Birthday ๐ŸŽ‰

Happy birthday!๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽŠ

Happy Birthday Ron!

Best wishes from Notting Hill West London

Read the book just recently. Great story . Great man .

Happy- birthday ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰

Happy Birthday !

Happy B Day Ron Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Happy birthday! ๐ŸŽ‰

HBD Ron!

Happy birthday!

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3 days ago
John Densmore

I thought what we were doing might last a decade or so, but I had no idea our lead singer was tapping into a core of universal sound vibrations, sonic waves that would reverberate for fifty years, that continue to resonate to this day...john densmore

Remembering Jim (12/8/43 - 7/3/71)

Photo Credit: Paul Ferrara

#jimmorrison #RIP #thedoors
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I thought what we were doing might last a decade or so, but I had no idea our lead singer was tapping into a core of universal sound vibrations, sonic waves that would reverberate for fifty years, that continue to resonate to this day...john densmore

Remembering Jim (12/8/43 - 7/3/71)

Photo Credit: Paul Ferrara

#JimMorrison #RIP #TheDoors

Comment on Facebook

Well said.

The doors just have a very timeless sound. Always in a class of their own and their music just gets more fascinating with age.

John, listening to Doors music kept me sane the 13 months I was in Vietnam in the Marines. Plus, it was because of the Doors that I commited my life to Christ as Savior. I currently pastor a church in Southern California. THANK YOU for impacting my life as you did.

Love you, Jim & Love you John! When all the girls were listening to boy bands, I was listening to classic rock ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿป The Doors forever!

Loved Jim and his Ray-Bans. Still listening to The Doors - thank you for sharing. And still wearing Ray-Bans trying to be as cool as Jim.

One of my top five favorite bands since that era when I was a teenager and you first were popular. I think it's so silly to judge Jim on certain of his actions back then, as many people do, he as a disillusioned and too intelligent person for this world (and maybe for fame.) I can only imagine what his observations would be on our present culture. Wish he were around.

Hmm…we share a bday which is very cool. I was too young to appreciate his music when he was alive but I definitely appreciated it when I got older. RIP Jim

Magic happened when four great talents came together.

โ˜ฎ๏ธโค๏ธ๐ŸŽถโ˜ฏ๏ธ๐Ÿค๐Ÿช˜๐Ÿฅ๐ŸŽน๐ŸŽธโ˜ฎ๏ธ๐ŸŽถ Yes. Well said John - - Helene & I look forward to talking to you soon. Jim Ladd ๐Ÿค๐ŸŽถ

It was the combination of the 4 of you John that was magical ๐Ÿ’“โœจ

My older brother turned me onto the Doors about 1968. I was only eight years old. I’m still in love to this day. The music is magical.๏ฟผ

A Great Poet is Immortalized by the Transcendence of his written words ๐Ÿ“–... We were lucky this time that his words were recorded with great music ๐ŸŽถ

Rest in Peace Jim! "Now Night arrives with her purple legion. Retire now to your tents & to your dreams. Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth. I want to be ready...."

Best band in the universe. I still listen. You all made my life better. Most un-imitatable group in the world.

51 years ago gone today.

I was talking with my son yesterday about how there's some bands you can replace a member or two & not notice a difference. Then there's bands each member is irreplaceable. The Doors are one of those bands that each member had their own magic. That's what makes the music so special.

I always wonder what the world was robbed of artistically as-well as physically when we lose people like Jim. Break on through. Rest In Paradise.

The Doors still sound great today! What a lead singer and you guys gave the sonic punch!

Jim was definitely one in a million! He was a genius with his words and had a magnificent voice! May he and Ray RIP and may you and Robby keep on rockin!! The Doors are the GREATEST!! ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™

Jim definitely had some spiritual energies. He actually predicted the future of music with one person making music with machines. Jim is an inspiration to me, too love and spend as much time with my children and make sure they know I love them to the end of the universe. I also try to kindly speak my thoughts that alcohol is the most dangerous drug destroying lives daily and look out for all people in this world. Love, understanding and kindness is easy. Thinking of Jim on this day.

I remember in july 1971 when the news came out . I was 3 years old and the music on the radio kept playing light my fire. My dad said driving the red Pontiac, " I think the singer died". I remember that like it was yesterday.

I believe it was the magical drumming that caused the ongoing sound vibrations!

It was the theatre, the drama, the magic, the imagery and the carnival you all created together that is so elusive, tantalising and eternal… ๐Ÿ™โค๏ธ๐ŸŽถ

He was a poet and gift to music. Your music lives on throughout generations. My mother raised me on the good tunes and I've been a Doors fan since i was 5. I'm now 41 and still listen. My children do too. Happy Birthday Lizard King

That was a quick 51 years. Thanks for being the heartbeat of his lyrics and The Doors.

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2 weeks ago
John Densmore

Happy Birthday to the one and only Mick Fleetwood!

#mick75 #mickfleetwood #houseoffleetwood
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Hi John!!!! How are you doing???? Great to see you! And a Very Happy Happy Birthday to Mick Fleetwood!!!!! Enjoy one truly beautiful and blessed day! Lovr ya much to you both♥๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Kathie

You are living legend. Thank you for all your music love and light๐Ÿ’ฏ๐Ÿ™Œ

I love your drum collection ๐Ÿฅฐ Amen ๐Ÿ™Œ Happy Birthday Mick๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽ‰

Happy Birthday Mick !!!!! One of the nicest celebs I'd ever meet on Maui.

Love you John! Happy bday Mick! ๐Ÿ–ค

Great slippers John! The sound was so good, I turned on my Bluetooth speaker to hear it again. HBD Mick Fleetwood.

Hi John, Happy Birthday Mick ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Happy birthday mighty mick!! ๐Ÿ–ค

Happy brithday from Argentina salute

This is awesome thank you John densmore

Happy birthday

Looking good John!

Happy birthday John!!

Happy birthday ๐Ÿช˜๐Ÿช˜๐Ÿป

You are hilarious my friend I love your spirit

Love the little happy birthday to you beat at the end of the roll. ๏ฟผ

Happy B Day ! Rickey Ricardo, Baba Loo !

Happy birthdayโœŒ

Happy Birthday

This is what makes Densmore my favorite doors member:

Happy birthday ๐ŸŽ‚

We had a blast playing with you! Hope we can do it again. Aloha ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿค™๐Ÿฝ

Hi jhon. You look great!

congratulations

Happy Birthday

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