CNN) – The Doors’ founding keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, died in Germany Monday after a long fight with cancer, his publicist said in a statement. He was 74.
The artist had been diagnosed with bile duct cancer.
The Doors formed in 1965 after Manzarek happened to meet Jim Morrison on California’s Venice Beach. The legendary rock group went on to sell 100 million albums worldwide, establishing five multiplatinum discs in the U.S.
Morrison died in 1971, but Manzarek carried on The Doors’ legacy, continuing to work as a musician and an author.
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today,” said Doors guitarist Robby Krieger. “I’m just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him.”
The band famously defied Ed Sullivan’s request that they not sing the lyric “higher” when they performed “Light My Fire” on his show in 1969. A show producer approached them in the dressing room shortly before they were to perform, Manzarek recalled in an interview with CNN in 2002.
Manzarek remembers the band publicly agreeing like choirboys.
" ‘Yes, sir,’ we told him," he recalls. "‘Whatever you say, sir. We’ll change.’ (The producer) looked at Jim and said, 'You’re the poet. Think of something else – ‘wire,’ ‘flyer.’ "
Then the Doors went out and did the song exactly as they always did. Sullivan was so furious he didn’t even shake their hands.
Manzarek went on to produce the Los Angeles punk band X. Bassist John Doe said the band learned a lot from him.
“To have someone like Ray – like rock ‘n’ roll royalty – embrace what we do, it was great for our confidence,” Doe told CNN in a 2004 interview. “In the studio, he knew what to try to do. He went for performance. He was smart enough to realize that the band had the arrangements all worked out.”
Manzarek is survived by his brothers Rick and James, his wife Dorothy, his son Pablo, and three grandchildren. Instead of flowers, the family’s asked that a donation be made in Manzarek’s name at www.standup2cancer.org.