Writings about Music

Meeting Manzarek

Using a Vox organ for Spirit Lady recalls my late friend

Ray Manzarek wrote his home address on the back of a concert poster Michael Robinson handed him as shown above.

We feel its OK to include the full address because the property was sold in 2003.


This is the front of the 1993 Michael Robinson concert poster where Ray Manzarek wrote his home address on the back.


It was a pleasant surprise to find myself using a Vox organ timbre for the first time on my new album, Spirit Lady, this being the instrument my late friend, Ray Manzarek, probably made more use of than anyone, including on "Light My Fire". Wish he was still here to hear it!


For Spirit Lady, Michael Robinson uses a Vox organ favored by Ray Manzarek of The Doors. Coloristically, Robinson's usage is closer to the Vox organ sound of Eric Burdon and the Animals.


Ray Manzarek and Michael Robinson in Ray's home studio.


Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison


I met Ray in May 1993 at the Beverly Hills Library while distributing posters for a concert. He said he would be out of town on that date, and wrote his home address on the back of the poster I handed him, asking me to send a copy of my first album, Trembling Flowers, bluntly stating he would contact me if he enjoyed it, very businesslike. (This was my only album at that time.) Three weeks later, Ray phoned at 9 AM on a Tuesday morning, indicating how he found my music original, substantial, well crafted, and engaging. He gave his home phone number asking me to call back in a few days for lunch. So our friendship began with an extended three-hour lunch enhanced by abundant chardonnay at an elegant Italian restaurant on South Beverly Drive. I wore a favorite purple silk shirt while Ray was more subdued in khaki colors. An article had recently appeared about me in the Los Angeles Times, and Ray related how he told his personal trainer he was having lunch with "that guy" after the trainer mentioned reading it with considerable astonishment. After our memorable repast, we began regular music sessions at his empyrean abode on South Rodeo Drive. One key to our friendship was something I instinctively knew, which was never to mention The Doors or Jim Morrison unless Ray did so first. By the way, his home did have an incredible front door. Laid-back Southern California rock legends? Ray was about as laid-back as a guided missile. For more details about our friendship see Indian Summers In Forests of Azure. One really cannot say enough about him.

Michael Robinson in autumn colors this month of the Spirit Lady album release.


- Michael Robinson, October 2019, Los Angeles


© 2019 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer, programmer, pianist and musicologist. His 199 albums include 152 albums for meruvina and 47 albums of piano improvisations. Robinson has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University Long Beach and Dominguez Hills.