The Doors

“The Doors” was born on a Southern California beach in July of 1965. Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek ran into each other on Venice Beach and Morrison told Manzarek he’d been writing songs. Manzarek insisted that he sing one of the songs, Morrison sang “Moonlight Drive” and the impressed Manzarek suggested that they form a band.

Manzarek was in the band “Rick and The Ravens” and after John Densmore joined the band in August, Morrison, Manzarek and Densmore along with the Ravens recorded a demo that included six songs in September of 1965. That same month Robby Krieger joined the band playing guitar.

The band didn’t include a bass player like most other rock bands, instead Manzarek strummed out the bass sounds with his left hand on a new invention, the Fender Rhodes bass keyboard! When playing any other keyboard Manzarek always played with his right hand!

By 1966 the band was playing at the London Fog Club and later moved up to Whiskey a Go Go. While playing there on August 10, Jac Holzman from Elektra Records sat through two sets and by August 18, they’d signed a deal with Elektra!

The first album, self titled “The Doors” was recorded in August 1966, recorded almost entirely live right in the studio the album was finished in just a few days. It was released during the first week of January in 1967 and became one of the best selling albums of that time.

The doors pioneered a significant advancement in the development of music videos when Morrison and Manzarek jointly directed a film to promote the leading single, “Break On Through (To the Other Side)”.

They also promoted the single in a television debut, appearing on a Los Angeles show called Shebang. The band mimed to the song in a clip was never officially released by the group!

The second single released was “Light My Fire”, by the summer of 67′ it had became a smash hit. The long guitar and organ solos included on the recording were cut for AM radio airplay.

“Strange Days” was their second album that was released in September of 1967. “When the Music’s Over” helped establish Morrison’s status in the world of rock and roll.

The Doors had been seen as a underground band and a hero to many of the fans. But, with their success they’d agreed to appear in Sixteen magazine and were portrayed as teen idols in the layout!

The Door’s music speaks for itself, but a part of their huge success with fans was their wild, rebellious persona and spontaneous stage antics. Sixteen magazine published that their act wasn’t so spontaneous and was part of the act. His image portrayed in Sixteen and Tiger Beat, were a Jekyll and Hyde versions of his stage presence.

For months Morrison would “accidentally” fall off of the stage into the audience. This was a carefully planned fall that would have the crowd screaming. A local newspaper reported it as “one of the phoniest things ever”. Morrison’s reply was, “I guess he’s right”.

Morrison’s controversial and sometimes chaotic personality became quite evident when he was arrested in Connecticut in December of 1967. Morrison said, he’d been maced by police after being caught back stage with girl and he was bad mouthing the police in front of the audience!

On Christmas Eve the band had taped “Light My Fire” and “Moonlight Drive” to be aired on the Jonathan Winters Show. They’d began a gig at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco and the night the Jonathan Winters Show aired they’d had a TV rolled onto the stage.

The band stopped their performance in the middle of a song to watch themselves on TV! The audience sat there until their TV appearance was over and the band finished up the rest of the song! After their performance on the next night the band never appeared at Winterland again!

In late January of 1968, Morrison taunts a security guard in a parking lot outside The Pussy Cat A Go Go in Las Vegas. While pretending to smoke a joint the guards surround Morrison and his friends and beat them! When police arrive Morrison is arrested for vagrancy, failure to have identification and public drunkenness!

Universal Studios offered the band $500,000 to appear in a undisclosed movie in February. The band declines the offer, but opts to keep negotiations open for future movies.

During performances in March of 1968 at the Fillmore East, Morrison thrilled the audience with several stage entrances! In one set when it appeared he wasn’t going to show, he flies over the drum set and leaps in front of the microphone at the last minute!

In another set he holds on to the rising curtain, dropping to the stage at the last minute he lands right in front of the microphone just in time to open the show! They are in such high spirits they even perform an hour long encore set!

Before their July 5th performance at the Hollywood Bowl, Mick Jagger and Jimmy Miller join them for dinner and are later part of the audience. It’s been hailed as the event of the season and was sold out!

The show is lacking Morrison’s crazy stage antics, he puts all his concentration on his vocal performance. The fans were disappointed and the show was later called “a bore” by Jagger!

In July of 1968 the band releases “Waiting for the Sun”. Morrison’s ever increasing abuse of alcohol had been the cause of a lot of tension during the recording.

Morrison’s alcohol dependency has began to take it’s toll not only on him, but on the performance of the entire band. He’s often late for recording sessions, leaves for hours at a time and shows up drunk! During this time several of the members get angry and quit, just to return the next day or two!

He leaves the studio whenever he wants to visit the local bars and often brings groupies and people from the bars back to the studio with him when he returns. It’s said that you can even hear him taking “swigs” of brandy during the last part of “Five To One”!

“Celebration of the Lizard”, Morrison’s masterpiece was cut from the album. It was a series of poems, storytelling, musical sections and spoken verse, written by Morrison that was to cover one entire side of the album!

Although, Morrison was pleased with the finished piece, the band was dissatisfied with the feel, the transformation from piece to piece didn’t have the smoothness to bring it together into one complete piece.

To come up with enough material to make up for the entire side lost to “Celebration of the Lizard” they dig through Morrison’s notebooks searching for poetry that can be turned into songs!

With the release of “Hello I Love You” and “Love Street” many of the fans thought the band had sold out just to get ranked on the Billboard. The record company had pressured the band to record these specific types of songs in order to get back into radio airplay.

Some of the fans were alienated due to the change from underground rock band to a more “pop” style band. But, the “Waiting for the Sun” still becomes their first number one album!

“The Doors” rank as one of the biggest bands in the U.S. by July of 1968. They’re playing to sold out arenas and now making over $35,000 for each nights performances.

By December, Morrison is becoming unnerved by all the demands and expectations the audience places on him. The band is wanting encores of “Light My Fire” and he chastises the crowd!

He walks to the front of the stage and sits down, to a crowd of 18,000 people that are mostly teenagers, he recites the whole 133 line “Celebration of the Lizard”! When finished, he just stands, looks at the crowd and walks off the stage.

In what is still referred to as the “Miami incident”, their performance at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami was proved a disaster. The combination of Morrison’s out of control drug and alcohol abuse, the entrapment of stardom and his personal demons came to a peak.

With little interest in performing the songs, he made emotional outbursts at the audience. He screamed challenges to them and made social statements. All the taunting and confusion sparked out of control situations with Morrison, staff members and fans.

The show was abruptly ended within and hour after they’d taken the stage! There are conflicting stories as to whether or not Morrison flashed himself to the audience.

The performance had been written off as being caused by Morrison’s drunken state, but a press review started a roller coaster ride that ended in Morrison’s arrest for indecent exposure and obscenity charges. And, one by one the remaining shows on the tour canceled out.

When they began touring again Morrison appeared wearing a heavy beard, overweight and dressed in hippie clothes with sun glasses. And, he sat on a stool during performances. The transformation from sex symbol “Lizard King”, had came full circle!

Their two concerts performed at the Aquarius Theater in Hollywood, brought a
more laid back bluesy style of music. And, again Morrison sported his beard and loose fitting clothes, instead of his almost trademark tight leather pants! The band radiated their musical talent and the audience embraced every note!

The Miami trial consumed the bands career after the release of the fifth album, “Morrison Hotel”. Morrison was found guilty in September of 1970 of profanity and indecent exposure. He was sentenced to eight months, but was released while the verdict was pending appeal.

The Door’s last public performance was at the “Warehouse” in New Orleans in December of 1970. Morrison suffered a breakdown, during the show he’d slammed the microphone into the stage floor over and over.

With the release of “L.A. Woman” in April of 71′, it seemed they were on their way to reclaiming their status as a premier act. It has became their second best selling album only ranking behind their debut album.

Morrison took some time off and moved to Paris after recording “L.A. Woman”, with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson. But, he’d began drinking heavily again by June.

The last known recording Morrison made was on June 16, with two street musicians that he’d met at a local bar. “The Lost Paris Tapes” were later released on bootleg in 1994.

On July 3, 1971, Morrison’s body was found in the bathtub at his apartment. It was later revealed that there hadn’t been an autopsy performed, but the cause of death was listed as heart attack.

Rumors were started that Morrison had faked his death to break free of the pressures of stardom. Although, Courson was said to have admitted before her death that she’d given him a shot of heroin right before he died. The coroner stated there were no needle marks and the heart attack had been brought on by too much alcohol and the hot bath.

The remaining band members tried to continue, with Krieger and Manzarek providing vocals they released two more albums. “Other Voices” was released¬† in October of 71′ and “Full Circle” was done in August of 72′.

The albums saw very little sales without the energy of Morrison’s electrifying presence and “The Door’s” stopped performing and recording by the end of 1972.

The Door’s once again saw a great success in the music industry in 1978. Recordings of Morrison reciting his poetry were found and the band added the musical tracks to release “An American Prayer”!

In 1993, The Door’s were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And,¬† reuniting once again in 2001, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore performed the bands hits as part of the VH1 Storyteller series.

The Door’s have sold over 76 million albums around the world and even today still continue to sell over 1 million annually. They’ve left a legacy of songs that remain popular with each new generation!

Morrison once said, “I like any reaction I can get with my music. Just anything to get people to think. I mean if you can get a whole room full of drunk, stoned people to actually wake up and think, you’re doing something”.

When asked what he’d most like to be remembered for, he said, “My words man, my words”!

Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2010

2 thoughts on “The Doors”

  1. Nice… Thank you very much! The Doors are a huge part of mine and my kids’ lives. My son’s name is Jacob, but his friends (and even some teachers now) call him Jim. I have a tattoo on my back that says “Jim ~n~ Pam”. It stands for music, love and a little insanity. I could hear all their music as I read this.
    Again, thank you!

  2. THE DOORS!!!! Yay! Oh wow, I love this band. Amazing music…and a bright comet of a lead singer who blew into our galaxy for far too short of a time. Ray Manzerek…does anyone today play a keyboard/organ like that? Robby Krieger was (is) one of the best guitarists ever, bar none…and John Densmore was possibly the only drummer that could have kept up with Jim’s improvisational shaman dance at the end of many shows!

    Excellent article!

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