Written by Michael Sutton
For Ray Manzarek, the Beat goes on.
In fact, the Beat has never stopped. Even after Jim Morrison’s shocking death in 1971 and the Doors’ subsequent break-up two years later, the group’s legendary keyboardist has never faded from the rock & roll scene. Whether it’s producing post-punk pioneers such as X and Echo & the Bunnymen or resurrecting the Doors with a new frontman, Manzarek continues to mesmerize and move new generations of listeners with his atmospheric, jazz-inflected playing.
One of the most intriguing projects that Manzarek has involved himself with lately is a collaboration with late ’60s garage rock survivor Darryl Read, frontman for Britain’s first punk band Crushed Butler. Combining Read’s existentialist Beat poetry with Manzarek’s cinematic keyboards, the two create fevered art on Bleeding Paradise, their third team-up.
In an interview conducted on March 14, Manzarek explained his long fascination with the Beat Generation and how it led to the formation of the Doors and his creative partnership with Read.
Manzarek has known Read for 20 years. According to Manzarek, what attracted him to Read’s poetry was that “it’s got a street credibility, an instant punch in the nose,” he said. “It’s now, it’s today, and yet it’s got its roots firmly set in the Beat Generation.”
It was the work of the Beat Generation, the groundbreaking, spontaneous, and in-your-face words of underground icons such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, that opened the Doors for Manzarek. Manzarek revealed that the writing of the Beats was “the reason the Doors came together in the first place, an attempt to wed poetry and rock & roll, the same way that the Beats had wed poetry and jazz.”
In some ways, Manzarek’s work with Read unites both approaches as Read’s delivery booms with punk intensity while Manzarek’s lushly crafted keyboards have the playful energy of jazz.
To Be Continued