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Primary Wave Acquires Catalogs of The Doors’ Members Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger

The deal includes all of Krieger and Manzarek's interests in recordings, publishing, and merchandise for The Doors.

Primary Wave has announced its acquisition of Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek‘s rights as it pertains to their involvement with The Doors. This includes the guitarist and late keyboardists’ recorded music, publishing, trademarks and merchandise rights and income. Jim Morrison, the band’s lead singer, and John Densmore, its drummer, continue to own the remaining interests in the Doors’ rights.

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One of the most influential and enduring rock acts of its time, The Doors formed in Los Angeles in 1965, fearlessly injecting everything from bossa nova, blues, jazz and more into their songwriting. Epic songs like “Light My Fire” (seven minutes) and “The End” (nearly 12 minutes) were proof of their boundary-pushing pursuits in popular music. Defined by Manzarek’s busy keys, “Light My Fire” became the band’s first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit in 1967. From there, the group went on to mint 6 gold-certified records with Morrison at the helm.

Manzarek died in 2013 at age 74 after a battle with cancer. Morrison, known as the “Lizard King,” passed away in 1971 at only 27.

Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, Billboard estimates that The Doors’ master recording catalog generates nearly $10 million in annual revenue, with band royalties coming to about $4.4 million thanks to a heritage contract, which likely carries a generous 50% royalty payment on streaming licensing. Billboard further estimates that the band’s catalog generates about $5 million in publishing and that the band takes in another $1 million in merchandising. In total, that comes out to $10.4 million in royalties for the band, with Krieger and Manzarek’s share at $5.2 million. Consequently, Billboard estimates that Primary Wave paid anywhere from $75 million to $100 million for The Doors’ music income streams and other intellectual property rights it acquired.

Primary Wave declined to comment.

Doors songs like “Riders on the Storm,” “People Are Strange,” “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” and more are still considered some of the most inventive and lyrically-profound of their time. “The End” took on even more cultural significance more than a decade after its release as the opening soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979).

By the 1990s, the group’s legacy was cemented with their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and memorialized in the Val Kilmer-starring biopic The Doors (1991).

As the new rights holder of Krieger and Manzarek’s interests in The Doors’ catalog, Primary Wave will work alongside Jeff Jampol, the band’s manager and founder of Jampol Artist Management, to help with the marketing, digital, licensing, sync for further empowering the band’s legacy.

“Ray and I spent a lot of time discussing the future of The Doors’ legacy, and how to handle things after he departed this plane,” says Dorothy Manzarek. “Our family has worked patiently to find the right partners to continue Ray’s lifelong efforts in protecting and promoting his art, and now we are happy to have finally come to an agreement with Primary Wave. Under the continued guidance of our manager, Jeff Jampol, Primary Wave will be the right partners in this endeavor to build future generations of new Doors fans.”

“The Doors are one of the most legendary rock bands of all time. We are looking forward to growing the legacies of Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek,” says Larry Mestel, CEO and founder of Primary Wave Music. “We are also very happy to be working alongside such an industry icon as Jeff Jampol to tastefully grow opportunities for The Doors.”

John Branca, David Byrnes, and Kelly Vallon Ciccotti negotiated the deal on behalf of the sellers.

UPDATE: This article was updated Jan. 23 at 3:59 p.m. EST to include an estimate of how much Primary Wave paid for the catalogs, based on estimates of the value of the band’s royalties.