Rock and roll marriages aren’t known for their longevity but Ray Manzarek and Dorothy Fujikawa-Manzarek would have been celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary today. They were married from December 21, 1967 until Ray’s death in May of 2013.
Jim Morrison and Pam Courson’s love story is sometimes portrayed as a rock and roll Romeo and Juliet story, ironically by Manzarek, but Manzarek and Fujikawa’s story is the story of lasting love in the face of rock and roll and the rewards and temptations it offers. Ray and Dorothy met at UCLA when both were taking an art class. Something seemed to click right away and soon Manzarek was including Fujikawa in his student films.
By 1964 they were living together in a house on Venice Beach. When Morrison and Manzarek ran into each other on that fateful day in July of 1965 and started The Doors, Manzarek immediately moved Morrison in with them while Fujikawa worked cleaning computer tapes to support the budding musicians. If there is anyone who knows The Doors’ story from start to finish, it is Dorothy Fujikawa-Manzarek.
The Doors’ debut album was released January 4, 1967, and by July 1967 “Light My Fire” had become a gold record and made The Doors a national act. In September of ‘67 The Doors received their first royalty check, a reported $50,000 per member, and seeing his financial future secure Manzarek asked Fujikawa to marry him.
They got the requisite blood test and marriage license. But according to Manzarek’s memoir “Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors” choosing how to get married wasn’t an easy task. Both Manzarek and Fujikawa had very heavy countercultural beliefs and a traditional wedding with vows and relatives present made both of them uncomfortable. So there would be no wedding hall, no loads of guests, and no big dinner. Nor would there be an alternative ceremony out in a field or on the beach exchanging self-written vows. They both agreed that they already felt married and just wanted to solemnize and document the union legally, so they chose to be married at city hall by a judge on December 21, 1967 with Jim Morrison and Pam Courson present as their witnesses.
The union of Manzarek and Fujikawa survived well past the union of The Doors. Ray and Dorothy had a son, Pablo, and the family first lived in Beverly Hills and in later years moved to Napa Valley outside of San Francisco. I’m sure for Mrs. Manzarek, love survives, and Ray and Dorothy’s love story continues.
Originally published December 21, 2015.