The Doors: John Densmore Said George Harrison’s Words Helped Him Grieve Ray Manzarek

During a rough time in his life, The Doors’ drummer, John Densmore, remembered the reassuring words of George Harrison. The ex-Beatle often had blunt yet wise words about death and dying. They helped Densmore while he was grieving his fellow bandmate.

John Densmore at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Centennial Season's Opening Night Concert and Gala in 2018. George Harrison posing at the Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam in 1988.
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John Densmore said George Harrison’s words helped him grieve Ray Manzarek

Densmore spoke to Kenneth Womack about the parallels between The Doors and The Beatles on an episode of the “Everything Fab Four” podcast (per Salon). He also explained that George’s words helped him grieve The Doors’ keyboardist, Ray Manzarek.

The drummer explained that in a chapter of Densmore’s book, The Seekers, he quotes George’s sentiments after losing John Lennon. George essentially said, “When you had a special relationship with someone, and you can’t continue that after they died, then how can you have a relationship with Jesus or whoever you’re projecting as a deity?”

This put things into perspective for Densmore. It changed the way he thought of death. Therefore, this notion allowed him to cope after Manzarek died in 2013.

George had an interesting philosophy about death, and it’s good to hear someone benefited from it.

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Densmore and George’s bands both made a name for themselves in the 1960s

No one sounds like The Beatles, just as no one sounds like The Doors. Densmore explained to Womack that even though the bands treaded through different paths, they were always similar. They both experimented with psychedelics. The Doors also got into Indian music, which George also loved.

Densmore said, “It’s interesting that back in the mid-60s, The Doors and The Beatles were both experimenting with then-legal psychedelics, and then both of us sort of-well this is a little Earth-shattering on the nervous system. Maybe meditation is the way to go.

“And we both stumbled into the Maharishi, and this is before internet. There was no talking back and forth… Psychedelics kind of opened up the mind. Then meditation was obviously a longer route.

“So we get exposed to meditation, and then that introduces us to the Indian culture. Ravi Shankar. And The Beatles are doing the same exact thing, and we aren’t talking to each other about it. And then our music and their music, George in particular, gets kind of dipped in curry sauce, it seeps into some of our stuff and theirs.”

Densmore explained that he first heard The Beatles during their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. He thought the harmonies were infectious. After that, every time The Beatles released a new album, he and The Doors would “gobble it up.” As a drummer, he loved Ring Starr too.

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The Doors tried making an album like The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’

Densmore said that The Doors were trying to make The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when they were recording Soft Parade.

“Our fourth album, ‘Soft Parade,’ we put strings and horns on,” he said. “We were trying to make ‘Sgt. Pepper.’ And we got some flak for that but ‘Touch Me’ is still number one. But we had talked about trying that even before we got a record deal. And I’m sure The Beatles were like, ‘Let’s see where this goes.’

“And then after ‘Soft Parade,’ that got us back to ‘LA Woman’ and our sort of bluesy garage sounds. So, that’s the road you take. You’re experimenting, you’re curious, and hopefully, the audience follows you.”

Densmore revealed George turned up for some of Soft Parade‘s sessions. He agreed that the album sounded a lot like Sgt. Pepper because of all the horns and Eastern influences. The drummer also said the backward drum tracks on “Strange Days” were inspired by The Beatles.

Densmore concluded that The Doors and The Beatles were like “two private clubs” with their own loyal fans. However, they subliminally helped each other, musically and philosophically.

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