2017 Note: In honor of Ray Manzarek’ s February 12 birthday (2/12/39 – 5/20/13), Adventure Music Life is posting the following reminiscent review, unchanged from the 2002 article, other than the addition of current links. All of Ray’s sounds, creations, and words are as relevant today as they were in 2002 and in the 1960s. Enjoy and be inspired! The author of this article is personally inspired to read The Poet in Exile again, drink more chai tea, and begin planning a trip to a beautiful island.
Ray Manzarek at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
by Nici Lucas
January 9, 2002
(Via the now-defunct Revue Magazine)
Is Jim Morrison Still Alive?! After reading The Poet in Exile by Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for The Doors, fans might wonder whether the legendary lead singer actually faked his own death.
On January 9, 2002, the incredibly talented keyboardist Ray Manzarek made a special appearance at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland to discuss his history as a musician and new book The Poet in Exile. Admirers of The Doors were immediately excited when Manzarek commenced the evening by running on stage to play his legendary and hypnotic keyboards in Light My Fire. This song instantaneously transported the audience for just a moment to the magical hey-day of the band during the late 1960s. Listeners might have hoped that a time machine had miraculously beamed them to a 1969 Doors gig for a complete concert experience. However, the audience soon realized that not only does Manzarek represent The Doors by creating beautiful music, but also this guy can talk one hell of a talk.
At first, audience members might have wondered what they would be hearing, since the focus of the Hall of Fame Series evening was on Manzarek’s book, not The Doors. But Manzarek was immediately able to captivate the audience with his words. His presentation was highly entertaining, hilarious, and fascinating. He told powerful stories of The Doors, he shared insights on playing music for a living, and he related his thoughts and philosophies on life.
In one story, Manzarek relived the experience of the infamous night where Jim Morrison, famed lead singer for The Doors, would later be arrested for allegedly exposing himself on stage during a concert in Miami. Manzarek relayed the story from his point of view — the keyboardist for the band, on stage that night at the concert. He recreated the entire experience by playing the keyboards while narrating the actions of the scene. The stage was set: The roar of the crowd, Morrison’s antics and words, the police rushing the stage, and the eventual crumbling of the stage. Manzarek’s powerful narrative tactic allowed the 2002 Hall of Fame audience members to feel as if they, too, had witnessed and shared in the madness of the notorious Miami concert in the late ’60s.
Manzarek’s philosophies and wealth of knowledge were equally amazing. He talked about music and The Doors, but he also shared his intelligent opinions and flashbacks to the ’60s when the band members lived for the power of love. He wasn’t afraid to talk about “tripping” and the “shameful illegality of God’s green earth.” He openly expressed his love and respect for women, “the most beautiful creature[s] on earth” whose image has been brutalized in countless unmentionable magazines over the decades. (“There’s a soul and a spirit in there!” he shouted.) And throughout the evening, his abounding love and commitment to one woman, his Dorothy, of more than 30 years, was ever-present.
Although Manzarek is a highly talented musician and artist who has evolved into a knowledgeable, philosophical presenter, he is still just a “head” at heart. He’s a psychedelic, war-hating, pot-smoking lover that digs rock ’n’ roll.
When the 90-plus minutes of Manzarek’s presentation were complete, the audience was left with wanting more of this guy. The audience couldn’t help but to love him madly. How fortunate Clevelanders are to be able attend these unique Hall of Fame Series events. Still, an occasional Ray Manzarek seminar tour would be fantastic (hint, hint to Manzarek’s manager).
To continue the powerful vibe that most audience members surely felt when leaving the Hall of Fame event, many were likely to purchase Manzarek’s new novel, The Poet in Exile. And most readers would find the book just as captivating as Manzarek’s presentation. The book was insightful, intelligent, philosophical, funny, and answered all of the questions about what might have happened to Morrison had he truly faked his death in July 1971. Why would this extremely famous lead singer fake his own death? Where would he have gone? What would he have been doing all that time? The Poet in Exile answers those questions and more.
The novel by Ray Manzarek is an intellectual and entertaining story of a man who felt prompted by feelings of cowardice, self-hatred, and powerlessness to embark on an odyssey and search for spiritual enlightenment. The Poet in Exile is quite deep and intriguing, so it might not be for lighter readers. The book does, however, tell an incredible and powerful tale of a lost and troubled soul in search of seemingly unobtainable peace.
Hello, Ray Manzarek — author, musician, and philosopher. Clevelanders love you, and are thankful for your sharing of your experiences with us, your thoughts of Jim Morrison, your stirring words. You are a true inspiration and a breath of fresh air. We look forward to whatever books or presentations you might share with us in the future. We hope that this is not the end, our beautiful friend.