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Under the Hood: Ray Manzarek on Chicago’s Maxwell Street

The Doors were one of the most popular bands of the late 60s.  Their sound contained elements of rock, blues and jazz as well as influences from the worlds of theater, film and poetry.  Ray Manzarek, the Doors’ keyboard wizard, was born and raised in Chicago during the golden age of electric blues.  He remembers the blues Mecca that was Chicago’s long gone Maxwell Street.

It was like going to a bazaar in 16th Century Persia. Tables were laid out with all manner of perfumes and cloths and strange metal objects. Everything you could possibly imagine being sold off of these little tables up and down the street, Maxwell Street. And off to the side were like religious guys and Blues guys playing guitar. One of those tiny little amplifiers with a cord running into somebody’s house. You know and they’ve got this raspy little microphone [singing] and a guy singin’ the blues… – Ray Manzarek