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Manzarek blasts fellow Door

The keyboardist calls John Densmore 'a hothead' after the drummer sues over use of the band's name.

February 14, 2003|Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writer

Ray Manzarek of the Doors fired back Thursday at former bandmate John Densmore for filing a lawsuit against the reconstituted classic rock group and its new projects.

"John has always been a hothead, and now he is suing the Doors in a fit of pique," said keyboardist Manzarek. "It's sad, really.... I think he feels left out and worries that people think he's the least important part of the Doors. And I think he has begun to think that about himself."

The drummer filed suit against Manzarek and Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger in Los Angeles Superior Court last week, charging that a tour organized by the pair represents a breach of contract and trademark infringement. Densmore claims that the public performances by Manzarek, Krieger and other musicians under the banner of the Doors: 21st Century is confusing to the band's fans and undermines business agreements the members made in past decades.

"I'm forced to speak out now and to take action in order to protect the integrity of the great work all four of us created together," Densmore said in a statement last week. "My partners are free to play under any other name and any other logo, as the members of many bands from the same era are doing. I am seeking only to end the confusion caused by the deceptive ad campaign they are using on this tour, in order to preserve the legacy of the Doors, and to set the record straight."

Manzarek answered Thursday that Densmore had been invited repeatedly to join the new Doors before their return to the stage last September in Fontana and that he continually equivocated about his participation. The invitation remains open, Manzarek said, but he added that he is skeptical that Densmore is willing or able to contribute considering his recent hearing problems due to tinnitus.

"Before the September show, he gave us his blessing and said, 'Go on without me,' " Manzarek said. "Now, he wants to take his ball and go home, but the problem with that is it's not his ball. He's gone off the deep end and is hellbent on destruction. He's saying that if he can't play, then none of us can play. He worries that we think of him as just a sideman. It's ridiculous."

Densmore said Thursday "it's not true" that he gave his blessing to any use of the Doors name, and added that he would be fine with the new-look outfit if it called itself anything else. "If it's really about the 21st century, they should stop looking backward to the past," Densmore said. The drummer also said he is no longer hindered by tinnitus.

The Fontana show was almost 30 years to the day after the Doors performed at the Hollywood Bowl and called it quits, a decision that seemed natural after the 1971 death of their lead singer, Jim Morrison. But Manzarek and Krieger decided last year to return to the road and have been performing with drummer Stewart Copeland, formerly of the Police, and lead singer Ian Astbury of the Cult.

Manzarek said the tweaking of the band's name and the specific listing of the lineup in ads for the concerts undercut Densmore's claim that fans may be confused about the group or Densmore's participation. Densmore said Thursday that the confusion is proved by the frequent comments he hears from peers and fans who believe he is drumming for the tour.

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