MEETING a college classmate after an eight-year separation can be one of life’s excruciating moments. You know how it goes: An exchange of handshakes and smiles… followed by awkward silence.
Tonight it is particularly difficult for me because I am scheduled to meet-and interview-my old chum, Ray Manzarek, keyboard player of The Doors.
The only contact I have had with Ray since 1964 is the sound of his music on the radio and the reports of The Doors’ bizarre activities in the newspapers. Couple this with the recent death of his good friend Jim Morrison and you have the makings of a tense evening.
AND THAT is just how this Thursday night begins. Tense. The Doors are in Chicago to perform at the Aragon the next evening. It is their first Chicago appearance since Morrison’s death. Now a three-man group, having decided not to replace their singer, “the messengers of the devil,” “the patricide kids,” “the Los Angeles branch of the Oedipus Association” (as they once were de-scribed), The Doors are ensconced in a fashionable Gold Coast hotel.
I ring Ray’s room from the lobby. “Ray?” “Yup.” “Marshall.” “Yup.” “I’m a little early.” “Yup.” “Are you free now?” “Yup.” “I’ll be right up.” “Yup.”
Is this old warm-hearted Ray? I ride the elevator reviewing a flood of memories from our days together at DePaul University College of Commerce in Chicago and the University of California in Los Angeles…