The Doors

  • Rock band formed in 1965 from Los Angeles California. Members were Jim Morrison (frontman, vocals, songwriting), Ray Manzarek (keyboards, songwriting), Robby Krieger (guitars, vocals, songwriting), and John Densmore (drums, songwriting).
  • Morrison and Manzarek met on Venice Beach in California in the summer of 1965. Manzarek heard a song that Morrison had written – Moonlight Drive, which would be released on the group’s second studio album – and he was awestruck. They decided to form a band, and Morrison already had the name picked out – The Doors, derived from Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception.
  • In August 1965, Densmore joined the group. He had met Manzarek at meditation classes. Originally, Manzarek’s 2 brothers were in the band, along with a bass player, and they recorded a demo tape. Soon, the brothers and the bassist left the group, and Krieger was recruited to join the band. By 1966, they were playing at clubs in Los Angeles, and they became a house band at the esteemed Whisky a Go Go club. A record executive saw them perform, and that August, they were signed to a record deal.
  • They released their first album, the self titled The Doors, in January 1967. The first single from the album, Break On Through (To the Other Side), did not do well. But, their second single, Light My Fire, was a huge hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album version of 7 minutes was too long, so the single was released at 3 minutes, with the guitar and keyboard solo nearly eliminated. The Doors performed the song on The Ed Sullivan Show in September 1967. The network had requested that the band  remove the word “higher” from the lyrics while performing on the show (“…you know that it would be untrue, you know that I would be a liar, if I were to say to you, girl we couldn’t get much higher…”), but they left the word in the song anyway. Sullivan immediately cancelled plans for the band to play on future shows. The song was selected for the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. The album ultimately became their best selling album, going 4x platinum.
  • Their second album, Strange Days, was released in September 1967. The album peaked at #3, and the singles People Are Strange and Love Me Two Times, reached #12 and #25 respectively on the chart.
  • Morrison was earning a reputation of trouble during live performances. He drank heavily and used drugs, and some shows turned bizarre. In December 1967, Morrison became the first rock artist ever arrested on stage during a performance. Prior to the show, he was making out with a woman in a bathroom at the New Haven Arena in Connecticut, and a policeman discovered them. Not realizing who Morrison was, the cop told them to leave, and Morrison responded “eat it.” Things escalated, and the cop sprayed Morrison with mace. The concert was delayed an hour while Morrison recovered, and once they started to perform, Morrison invented a song about the “little men in blue,” detailing the incident with lots of profanity for the audience. The police stormed the stage and arrested Morrison.
  • The band released 4 more albums, one each year from 1968 to 1971 – Waiting For the Sun, The Soft Parade, Morrison Hotel, and L.A. Woman. All sold over 1 million copies, with L.A. Woman going 2x platinum. Top 20 singles from these albums included Hello, I Love You (their second #1 song), Touch Me, Love Her Madly and Riders On the Storm. Doors songs continue to get frequent airplay on classic rock radio. Riders On the Storm was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010.
  • After L.A. Woman was released, Morrison took a leave of absence and moved to Paris with his girlfriend. On July 3 that year, he was found dead in his bathtub, at the age of 27. Two albums were released by the surviving members of The Doors after Morrison’s death – but with Morrison gone, the band no longer was relevant. They officially disbanded in 1973. In 1978, the album An American Prayer was released – it was a record with Morrison reciting his poetry from 1969 and 1970, with the other band members playing backing tracks.
  • The Doors have received numerous accolades. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Rolling Stone ranks them at #41 on their list of the Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2007, they were awarded a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Light My Fire and The End are on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and 3 of The Doors’ albums are on Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2015, the Library of Congress selected The Doors for inclusion in the National Recording Registry.
  • I own 8 albums on vinyl by The Doors. I enjoyed Oliver Stone’s biographical film The Doors from 1991 – Val Kilmer looks and sounds just like Morrison. Too bad Morrison was such a train wreck – that said, it made him and the band larger than life. Here’s a vintage clip of the band performing Touch Me. Great song!

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