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

A great spirit (& Australian actor), David Gulpilil has crossed over... check out the film "Walkabout" to see his brilliance...jd

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A great spirit (& Australian actor), David Gulpilil has crossed over... check out the film Walkabout to see his brilliance...jd


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Thanks John for recognising a great Australian actor and good guy.

Wasn't he in crocodile Dundee as well?

Brilliant actor and human being. May you Walk About in peace

Guess he went walk about.... may his path be joyfull

Storm Boy is another great Australian movie he was in 1976 such an amazing man will be sadly missed 😒

Thank you for recognising David Gulpilil. He was the most gifted dancer and actor. Truly an extraordinary human being. His impact on Australian cinema has been immeasurable. He would love that you remembered him. ❣️

You're a good bloke John, thanks for the recognition of an Australian legend! Cheers

Neville in Crocodile Dundee. RIP Brother.

Great loss. Walkabout was an excellent film.

He was such a big inspiration to me as a boy growing up (Strom Boy) watch him and he had a great sense of humor. A hug part of our Australian heritage will be missed

You should also see him in Charlie’s Country. David at his absolute best. Heartbreaking film. Rest in Peace.'s_Country

Love 'Walkabout.' Jenny Agutter is great in that as well. RIP

Walkabout really was a groundbreaking film

He is a great man. So sad to hear. A magical soul.

Walkabout is a deeply affecting film.

Yep the film Walkabout was on one of the cable channels last week, saw bits and pieces of it as saw it when it wasn't that old. Sad to hear. He was also in Crocodile Dundee and the film Australia. And we are appreciative of his work. Fair sailing Mr G.

Pure blooded human. Thousands of years of history attached to his soul.

Rest Peacefully in Dreamtime!

Remember him in Rabbit-Proof Fence too. Walkabout was a great film and he was such a great actor in that.

He was in the Right Stuff and the Last Wave too.

Great John, we loved him here in Sydney.

The Last Wave is a must see as well!

Great movie!

Thanks John. Here's a documentary that came out this year which is essential viewing. Spoken by him to tell his story.

*David Dalaithngu -to avoid naming the dead.

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4 days ago
John Densmore

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Happy birthday, John !

Happy birthday from belgium

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ! (.. & thanks for visiting Maine a few years back) πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Perhaps the greatest honor of my musical career and Endeavors was to get to hang out and play with you John happy birthday!πŸ€™πŸ’πŸ₯πŸŽ΅πŸŽΈπŸ”ŠπŸŽΆπŸ•ΊπŸŽ‚πŸ¨πŸŽˆπŸŽπŸŽ‰

Happy Birthday Mr. Densmore! May the Music and the Majesty of The Doors live Forever!

Wishing you a very Happy Birthday; and thank you for the music!

Fortunate to have met MR.Densmore πŸ™‚

Hbd John !!!

Happiest of birthdays, John Densmore! I recently joined an excellent Doors tribute band and charted out 30 of your songs. I’m staying very true to your original parts, which are musical, grooving, and unique! Thanks for all the amazing drumming! 😊πŸ₯πŸšͺ

Hey Happy Birthday John!!! I remember selling you propane or renting you something, when I worked in WLA. Loved the Miles Davis stories about hanging/listening in the parking lot, being too young to get into the gigs..πŸ‘

Happy birthday from Brasil. God bless you!!!

Happy birthday handsome!!!

Happy Birthday , Sir!

Happy birthday πŸŽπŸŽ‚πŸŽˆfrom GONZO TODAY! Enjoy your special day!

Happy Birthday John! Thanks for all the great music!

my congratulations John Desmore, no words to say what you and the doors influenced my life! God bless, happiness you deserve, celebrate!! hug πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Happy Birthday to you Sir!

happy birthday mr.D

Happy Birthday to a great drummer.

Happy birthday, my birthday buddy! 🀩✌️

Happy birthday John! From Minnesota. Continued inspiration to you.

πŸŽ‚ πŸŽ‰ Happy B-Day & Many More! πŸŽ‚ πŸŽ‰

Happy birthday. You were born at the same day as my mother in 1944.

Happy Birthday from Berlin

Happy birthday great John!

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