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 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

It took me years to forgive Jim, and now I miss him so much for his artistry...jd ... See MoreSee Less

It took me years to forgive Jim, and now I miss him so much for his artistry...jd

Comment on Facebook It took me years to ...

You are the Man Mr. John Densmore I wish I could meet you and shake your hand and tells you, thank you for a WONDERFUL MUSIC. Blessings.

Each member of The Doors all played an equally masterful role in their overall sound. The variety of musical influences and subtle stylistic references in the instrumental members playing only served to enhance and elevate Jim’s great lyrics, singing, expressions and oratory. No other group of musicians could have created that sound and none have ever come close since. John Densmore for me is a more accomplished, tasteful player than many more lauded players before and since. No formulaic drum breaks just for the sake of a technical display so common in music then and now. Every fill or solo was musical, devoid of ego and intelligently conceived from a world of influence to serve the song or piece of music. Any young musician can learn everything they need to know about the right approach to making great music by listening to The Doors.

I think we all somehow feel like you! Maybe cause yours music unlocks the brains and the feelings! God bless you mr. John!

You did your best. He was very self destructive. I'm very thankful for all you guys did for the world through your music.

Like not forgiving someone with so much talent that has made a magnificent and unique art and that leaves us that way. It is understood the anger of how he left us in such an unexpected way. May God always have him in glory and they will always be remembered as the best American band. !!!

Be thankful for the time you had together. So many people are so envious of you for even having one conversation with Jim, yet alone many. Jim, Ray and you and RK will always be remembered for the incredible music you created for us and future generations to enjoy.

You were all very young. It was a natural reaction. Time & maturity heal a lot of wounds.

As a young man I idolized Jim. I thought I could live the same way. Thought I could party like him and life would be great. I still listen to the Doors a lot. But I wish I would gave never tried to emulate that lifestyle.

It's just a tragic, tragic thing, John, and I'm kinda amazed that you, Ray and Robbie put up with the insanity as long as you did. Too bad it occurred in a time and place when/where such excesses were just shrugged off (...it was the 60's, maaaaaan...) and you guys didn't do a "sit down" with him. But I know he appreciated that y'all let him be "himself", even though it eventually led to his destruction and lots of internal strife within the band. I was able to visit his grave in Paris several years back. I cried like a dang baby, man.

One of the all time great drummers! You taught me how to play off the singer. Thanks!! Your drumming still sounds fresh!!

I was just 1 1/2 years old when he passed, but I still appreciate all he and the Doors contributed. I paid my respects at his grave this January.

Finally John, I really respect you for that, and as I've said many times... Without the Doors = No Morrison. Without Morrison = No Doors...

my daughter use to live on Cheney in Topanga - she loved seeing you around - we love The Doors John!

No doubt Jim Morrison was a crucial part of the Doors, however, your incredibly innovative Jazz and Latino influenced drum performances were an equally important factor in the groundbreaking sound of the band.

You guys were the sound track of my life in those days. Now I’m old and getting my kicks watching first reactors on YouTube review your songs. It’s pretty amazing watching young people hear the Doors for the first time.

Still cranking the volume up 51 years later . Thanks for the music John .

I’m sure he had lots of trauma he never got to work through . So there’s that

Hard to watch someone self destruct and not resent them πŸ˜” Love you John!!

Your book was by far the best written about him and the rest of the doors.

Trust me - you're not alone in that feeling. Granted I was 3yrs old when he passed, but when I learned about him, his life, and death I too got angry at him. How could he do that to his family, friend, fans let alone himself? Loved by millions of people, yet he couldn't love himself. At least he's out of his pain, and still on his journey to the Infinite. We remember; we love & we honor him in our own way. We were all blessed by him, but I know we all want just one more time with him - even for a dayπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺ

It's a hard thing not to be angry at someone who has so much going for them, but falls victim to selfish vices. Especially in your case John, the band was your livelihood and his actions directly affected your family's bottom line. Glad you've found peace.

We all sure miss him for his intelligent artistry, John. Hope all is well.

My favorite band. Saw you at Cobo in Detroit 1970. Glad that you got to that place to be able to forgive. Sending love

It is very easy to appreciate him. He was one of the most important poet of the last late century. Because at first he was a poet and in the second way a singer. The poetry side make him immortal.

Mr Densmore, you did what you thought was right. Your timekeeping skills...timeless. The remasters are where you shine. I feel like I am in the room with your kit. We all have sonething we can learn to forgive ourself for. The music you helped create is truly the essence of American freedom.

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6 days ago

John Densmore

I'm proud to be part of a star-studded virtual fundraiser for Joe Biden for President on July 4th.

Tickets start at just $50! I hope you'll go to tiny.cc/MWD4D6 to join me there!
... See MoreSee Less

Im proud to be part of a star-studded virtual fundraiser for Joe Biden for President on July 4th.

Tickets start at just $50! I hope youll go to http://tiny.cc/MWD4D6 to join me there!

Comment on Facebook I'm proud to be part...

Fantastic. Biden will be a great president. Wishing you much success.

Have you wondered why the media hasn't called for Biden's medical records yet!

I disagree with you, but I’m still a fan of yours and The Doors. It’s not as if we don’t know you’re a liberal, and your political ideology certainly doesn’t negatively impact your music or talent. We don’t engage in “cancel culture” over here.

How anyone could truly support this guy is beyond me.

Lock the The Mad King up ,and throw the keys into the Nile ! I am with you John ! America will prevail ! We need a human being back in Pennsylvania Av ! God bless America! Stay safe everyone!

Joe has beginning stages of dementia:( So sad

This thread reinforces what the rest of the world already knows - the former USA is a failed state. Good on you for trying, John. Bon chance.

James Pomeranz....so you are against free speach and enjoy The Doors music? Conflicted!

Rich peshmerga he and trump are almost the same age. If anyone has dementia its trump. He says something one day and changes it the next day. Vote blue2020 biden

Look at all the protrump human feces on this thread. Poor John. You're all an embarrassment to humanity.

You should think about looking into a third party candidate John

Why would you support a guy that has dementia. I have no respect for you anymore.

Biden winning is the same chance as finding the Blue Lady. Make a gofundme me page for that instead.

Jason Stanley If John puts it out for public consumption he can take both the pro and con comments. He survived the sixties with Jim Morrison....think he is tough enough

John Densmore- if you’re there, I’m signing up. Oh and Biden is pretty cool too. Thanks for fighting the good fight!

Biden is just "Perfect Puppet V2.0!" They believe all they need is a warm body, and they've got it made. No thought necessary, just do what we tell you. Sad, just sad!

everyone has a right to their own opinion but this is really upsetting as a fan of the doors. biden is a pervert and a sad excuse of a candidate. where’s your head john ):

JD I suggest blocking all the trolling Trumpsters. It will stop them from spreading their messages for the most dangerous man in our life time. Also, most Trumpsters posts have a tone of anger and hostility, just like their messiah and don’t have any real facts. They don’t care about Trump sexual mis deeds or comments. Trump is clearly pro white and they don’t care. But oh boy if Obama did anything Trump has done they be having a hissy fit. Hypocrisy at its finest and the funny thing is they are to chicken to admit it. Closet white supremacy is still white supremacy.

Thank goodness California doesn't get to pick the next President.

‘Proud to be a part of this numberrrrr.’ Best of luck John - but you don’t need luck when right is on your side, brother. Peace to you. ‘Hotel.’

Why is anyone surprised he’s supporting Biden and not Trump?! Do y’all not listen to the DOORS?!

You better record it cause Biden won’t remember it!

Thats what we've got now, an OLD CON MAN soon to be drop kicked back to bad TV!!

Maybe your old timers is kicking in maybe you should sit this one out because Biden is never going to win in a honest race

When I listen to The Doors, my first thought goes to Joe Biden

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