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Light My Fire Paperback – October 15, 1999

4.0 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Legendary Doors keyboardist Manzarek cannot seem to figure out whether his close friend and bandmate Jim Morrison's wild antics were the result of a poetic desire to push the envelope as far as the singer could, or if the famous 1960s rebel (who died in Paris at the age of 27) was just a gifted drunk. This ambivalence gives rise to an interesting, open-minded chronicle of one man's (Morrison's) alcoholism and its impact on his loved ones. Manzarek surely loved MorrisonAthey were friends and collaborators before either man had met the other two musicians who would complete the Doors's lineup, drummer John Densmore (whom Manzarek claimed Morrison never liked) and guitarist Robby Krieger, who penned "Light My Fire," "Touch Me" and "Love Me Two Times" with little or no help from famed lyricist Morrison. Manzarek takes every opportunity to philosophize about the ills of capitalist America, and he incessantly, passionately alludes to Greek mythology, Hinduism and Christianity when relating tales of his rock band's rise and fall. It's all love, peace, happiness and Morrison, except for the caustic passages regarding Oliver Stone and his big-budget biopic, The Doors, which Manzarek despises. "Grow up and see it like it really is, you fascist," the keyboardist writes at one point, which makes one wonder why Manzarek, an award-winning filmmaker and graduate of the UCLA film school, didn't make the movie himself. 16 pages of photos, not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Manzarek, musical leader of and keyboard player for the Doors, takes us back to the strange days of 1960s L.A. in a striking personal memoir and ode to Jim Morrison. After singer-lyricist Morrison's untimely demise, the band drifted apart, but its music and Morrison's leering public persona get dredged up periodically by new generations of fans. Manzarek and fellow UCLA film graduate, budding poet, and aspiring lizard king Morrison were the band's nucleus, to which Manzarek added guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore, whom Manzarek found in a transcendental meditation group. As the Doors, the four captured the orgiastic mood of the Age of Aquarius, L.A. style, by mixing mystical lyrics and extended musical jamming with the signature sound of Manzarek's carnival-like electric keyboard stylings. They enjoyed a commercial success rooted in the singles charts, which provoked dismissive criticism from the album-oriented rock-critic cognoscenti of the time. Manzarek posits that if Morrison had not fallen in with the wrong crowd (a problem then as now), he would have enjoyed an enduring career either as poet or rocker (like, perhaps, Henry Rollins?). Literate, perceptive, and thoughtful, this is the best book yet about the Doors and their legendary singer, not to mention Manzarek, and may be the best rock bio of the year, on a par with Dave Davies' Kink last year. Mike Tribby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; 1999. Corr. 2nd Printing ed. edition (October 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425170454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425170458
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Of all the books I've read about The Doors, my favorite has always been "No One Here Gets Out Alive," by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman. Until now. Now, unequivocally, it's "Light My Fire: My Life With The Doors," by Ray Manzarek, the keyboard player and co-founder (along with Jim Morrison) of The Doors. What makes this book so great is that Manzarek has a way of making you feel like you're there with him, and Morrison and the others, as he recounts that magical, psychedelic period of time between 1965 and 1971. As he puts it: "In that year we had an intense visitation of energy. That year lasted from the summer of 1965 to July 3, 1971." And as he writes, he as much as welcomes you into their lives, sharing their most intimate and personal moments. You're there with them on the beach in Venice, California, when Morrison first mentions to his friend Ray that he's been writing some songs; and it is in that moment that "The Doors" are born, and you're there, and it's as if it is one of your own memories. Manzarek writes with such obvious joy and fondness of this period of time in his life; of his memories of Jim Morrison, the charismatic and enigmatic poet whom he loved as a brother and still misses to this day; of his then girlfriend (now wife of all these many years), Dorothy Fujikawa, whom he adores; of finding guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore and making The Doors a reality; and it's all done with such a Bradburyesque style and flair that by the time you're through you feel as though you're one of them, part of that unique inner-circle of friends. Of course, there's the down side, too, about which he is equally as candid as he is about the rest of it.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Since this book appeared in 1998, The Doors--sans John Densmore, who had an iota of self-respect--have played Las Vegas. Thank God Jim Morrison didn't live to see his bandmates mutated into an embarassing lounge act, singing his songs in the performance graveyard that is Vegas.
It's clear Ray Manzarek does not like Densmore. It's clear now and it's bitingly clear in this book. Ray Manzarek has a real go at the history of The Doors, rewriting it exactly as he'd like it to sound in his mind. Ray conveniently ignores entire albums, tours, and other events in favor of waxing on about the chi, about how unbelievably incredible The Doors were and still are. He has a lot of love for Jim Morrison, but even this is tinged with a nasty shade of green. Instead of facing the fact that Morrison had a serious drug and alcohol problem, Manzarek creates an alter ego for Morrison known as 'Jimbo'. See, it's all 'Jimbo's' fault. Jimbo is the redneck alcoholic idiot that Morrison would become at random times, not the regular Jim Morrison who was a brilliant poet and all around nice guy.
You can imagine why he hates Densmore. Riders on the Storm, Densmore's version of the story, clearly shows that the drummer felt guilt over Morrison's spiral downward. Densmore came off as honest; he didn't beat the reader over the head with endless babble about Dionysus or the Age of Aquarius and the massive amount of acid Ray appears to have taken.
Meanwhile Manzarek would rather attach some kind of cosmo-spiritual explanation to Morrison's decline. He claims to have seen the spirit literally leaving Morrison's head the night of the final Doors performance in New Orleans in 1970. It's embarassing, it's manipulative and it speaks volumes about Ray's character.
Ray always looked like an erudite.
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By A reader on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
I give this book 2 stars for the occasional first person insights into the Doors. But there is too little of it. There is too much of the rantings of a man who is apparently trapped in the 6os, and is undergoing a personal mind battle between himself as a flower child and a business man. He often comes on as one or the other of these two conflicting images.

Often he rants about the establishment and their love of power and money, but at the same time he exudes great excitement when he describes the business and money aspect of his music career; like the big bucks he got when 'Light my Fire' hit the charts and the new car and beach house he was able to then buy. Or when he describes getting his first royalty check from Elektra and "Grinning and Dithering" while he makes his wife guess at the figure. Then she "squeals" and they hug and yell "We're rich!" A few pages later he goes on ranting about power and money hungry people.

I found too much hypocrisy in his writing like when he keeps using the phrase "I hope the lovers win the war. Don't you?" Then a few pages later he comes on as anything but a lover with his nasty second-hand gossip about Morrison allegedly telling him that he didn't like John Desmore. Uh, wouldn't a true lover and person who preaches peace and goodwill amongst each other, have kept that to himself rather than basically telling the world "Jim liked me more than John." I mean, what does that serve other than hurting another man's feelings? Nasty stuff from a self professed lover of people.

"Break On Through" is a much more supperior book on this topic. And it is a shame. Because with Manzarek's personal insight into the group, he could have provided the greatest story....
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