Among one of the most significant groups during the counterculture era of 1960’s, The Doors is an American rock band formed in 1965 who has made their everlasting impact in history.
Up until 1978, the band of 4 members toured the world and were spreading their music and message with passion and intensity. Their unique sound consisting a fusion of rock, blues, and psychedelic music captivated their audiences whilst their poetic lyrics challenged the norms of mainstream society.
John Densmore is the name of the genius who engines the drums for the band alongside vocalist Jim Morrisson, guitarist Robby Krieger, and keyboardist Ray Manzarek.
Aside from Densmore’s success as a musician, he was also an accomplished writer with his three books, two of which are on the topic of The Doors and the other being “The Seekers”. Additionally, he has experience in the performing arts industry as both an actor and dancer.
Born on December 1, 1944 in Los Angeles, California, Densmore grew up learning different musical instruments. He started off at 8 years old with the piano and he was obsessed with it. He wanted to get into the clarinet but his orthodontist was highly against it. Instead, he headed for the drums/percussion and from there, began the wonderful history of Densmore’s life with drums.
He started off playing the drums in his school’s marching band and the timpani in an orchestra. He would often reminisce on how he felt power in a marching band and how he would always get a rush or a kick from playing alongside 40 musicians despite how amateur it was.
At this point, he’s already decided he wanted to take music seriously and attended Santa Monica City College and later, California State University, Northridge. This is where he studied ethnic music under Fred Katz, a jazz cellist. His music was mostly influenced by Art Blakey and Elvin Jones. The latter would be whom he would often refer to as his idol.
In his teenage years, he became a regular at the L.A. club scene. This was around the time he met guitarist Robby Krieger. Together, they worked to write and play in a band called Psychedelic Rangers.
Not long after, he linked up and started rehearsing with Chicago-bred keyboardist Ray Manzarek. At the time, Manzarek was in a group called Rick & the Ravens consisting of Manzarek’s two brothers and Jim Morrison. When the two brothers left the group, Densmore and Krieger joined forces with Manzarek and Morrison to form the Doors in 1965.
In a relatively short time of only two years, the band who always gave their best, has already blown up and became superstars with six studio albums and several live ones as they eventually sold over 100 million copies of their music. This is where the band became in no contest, one of the most influential bands in rock history.
Things took a turn at one point and Densmore had to quit the band due to Morrison’s destructive behavior. He however returned the next day but still insisted that the band stop touring for the same reason. The band played their last live performance on December 12, 1970 in New Orleans as things didn't go too well again.
Morrison passed away in 1971, and the trio went on to make two more albums dedicated to the late singer’s passing. From then on, Densmore was beginning to think of moving on from the world of rock. In 1973, the band met its dissolution.
The same year, he partnered with Krieger to form the Butts Band and released two albums. Unfortunately, it was short-lived and it disbanded in 1975. Densmore decided to leave rock and roll in the 1980s and moved into the world of dance with Bess Snyder and toured the U.S. for two years.
As time went on, Densmore ventured into different things such as writing and acting. Although it was different from music, he always gave it his all and is always improving. With his strong will and dedication, he managed to earn and receive numerous awards and accolades in these industries.
While detailed and in-depth information regarding John Densmore’s drum gear is limited, it is known that he mostly used a Ludwig Downbeat Mod Drum Orange Kit and Zildjian cymbals. With Densmore’s passion combined with his exceptional skills and talent, it was enough for him to create the unique sound of The Doors.
Densmore did however have a particular philosophy when it came to how he liked his drum sets. As long as it met those requirements, he would be happy. This philosophy would be that his drums would have to be able to somewhat “bark” back at him when he was playing. One thing he did prefer was to have his drum heads old and beaten up instead of new and fresh.
Throughout his career John has used the following kits:
Some of John's favorite cymbals include:
John plays using "The Doors 7A Drumsticks".
Apart from his music videos with The Doors, Densmore dove deep into the acting industry. He made his first acting appearance in 1981 in a TV series called One Day at a Time.
Since then, He was relentlessly taking on different roles in other films and shows including:
Not only was he good on the screens, he also ventured into the crafts of being behind the cameras as well as he was the producers for several films such as:
Despite the disbandment of The Doors in 1973, Densmore continued earning awards for his everlasting contributions to the music industry and in 1993, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
From there, more prestigious awards came along as he was nominated for the Grammy’s several times and won many such as the Grammy Award for Best Music Film in 2010, Grammy Hall of Fame Awards in 1997, 2001 and 2009. He also earned one of the highest awards in that ceremony being the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
John Densmore started playing the drums in 1952 at the age of 8.
John Densmore has been playing the drums for 70 years now.
Throughout his career John Densmore has used Zildjian, Paiste, Ludwig, Rogers and Gretsch.
He is known for playing Rock and Psychedelic Rock.
Counting all his Albums, John Densmore has been featured on at least 899 recordings.
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