The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California, with vocalist Jim Morrison, Keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger. The band took its name from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book, “The Doors of Perception”, which itself was a reference to a William Blake quotation: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.” They were among the most controversial rock acts of the 1960s, due mostly to Morrison's wild, poetic lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. After Morrison's death in 1971, the remaining members continued as a trio until finally disbanding in 1973.
They were signed to Elektra Records in 1966. The 1967 release of “The Doors” was the first in a series of top ten albums in the US, followed by “Strange Days” (1967), “Waiting For The Sun” (1968), “The Soft Parade” (1969), “Morrison Hotel” (1970), “Absolutely Live” (1970) and “L.A. Woman” (1971), with 19 Gold, 14 Platinum and 5 Multi-Platinum album awards in the United States alone. Although The Doors' active career ended in 1973, their popularity has persisted. According to the RIAA, they have sold 32.5 million certified units in the US. The band has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger continue to tour as Manzarek-Krieger or Ray Manzarek & Robby Krieger of The Doors for legal issues, performing Doors songs exclusively. The Doors were the first American band to accumulate eight consecutive gold LPs. In 1993, The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The origins of The Doors lie in a chance meeting between acquaintances and fellow UCLA film school alumni Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek on Venice Beach in Los Angeles in July 1965. Keyboardist Manzarek was in a band called Rick & the Ravens with his brothers Rick and Jim Manzarek, while drummer John Densmore was playing with The Psychedelic Rangers, and knew Manzarek from meditation classes. In August, Densmore joined the group, renamed The Doors, and the five, along with bass player Patty Sullivan (later credited using her married name Patricia Hansen in the 1997 box CD release) recorded a six-song demo in September 1965. This has since then circulated widely as a bootleg recording. The band took their name from a line in Aldous Huxley’s book “The Doors of Perception” - “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite”. The line comes originally from William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. That month the group recruited guitarist Robby Krieger, and the final lineup of Morrison, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore was complete.
The band recorded their first album from August 24 to 31, 1966 at Sunset Sound Recording Studios. The Doors' self-titled debut LP was released in the first week of January 1967. It featured most of the major songs from their set, including the nearly 12-minute musical drama “The End”.
In November 1966, Mark Abramson directed a promotional film for the lead single “Break On Through To The Other side”. To promote the single, the Doors made their television debut on a Los Angeles TV show called Boss City, circa 1966, possibly early 1967 and then on a Los Angeles TV show called Shebang, miming to “Break On Through,” on New Year's Day 1967. This clip has never been officially released by the Doors.
In early 1967 The Doors appeared on The Clay Cole Show (Saturday evenings at 6 pm on WPIX Channel 11 out of NYC) where they performed their single “Break On Through“. Research has determined that the tapes were all wiped, the only shows that still exist are the final ones copied by an employee of the station, unfortunately this was long after The Doors' appearance. The Doors returned to The Clay Cole Show a second time on June 24th where they most likely performed “Light My Fire.”
Since “Break on Through” was not very successful on the radio, the band turned to “Light My Fire”. The problem with this song was that it was seven minutes long, so producer Paul Rothchild cut it down to a three minute song by editing out the lengthy keyboard and guitar solos in the center section. “Light My Fire” became the first single from Elektra Records to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, selling over a million copies. “Light My Fire” was the first song ever written by Robby Krieger and was the beginning of the band's success.
On September 17, 1967, The Doors gave a memorable performance of “Light My Fire” on The Ed Sullivan Show. According to Ray Manzarek, network executives asked that the word “higher” be removed in favor of “better.” The group initially agreed to this, but nonetheless performed the song in its original form, either because they had never intended to comply with the request, or Jim Morrison was nervous and forgot to make the change (Manzarek has given conflicting accounts). Either way, “higher” was sung out on national TV, and a furious Ed Sullivan canceled another six shows that had been planned. After the show's producer told the band they would “never do the Ed Sullivan show again“, Jim Morrison reportedly replied: “Hey man. We just did the Sullivan Show.”
On March 1, 1969, at the Dinner Key Auditorium in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, The Doors gave the most controversial performance of their career, one that nearly “derailed the band“. The auditorium was a converted seaplane hangar that had no air conditioning on that hot night, and the seats had been removed by the promoter in order to boost ticket sales. Morrison had been drinking all day and had missed connecting flights to Miami, and by the time he eventually arrived the concert was over an hour late in starting, and he was, according to Manzarek, “overly fortified with alcohol“. Morrison had recently attended a play by an experimental theater group, The Living Theatre, and was inspired by their “antagonistic” style of performance art. The restless crowd of 12,000, packed into a facility designed to hold 7,000, was subjected to Morrison's lack of interest in singing shortly into “Break On Through”. Morrison taunted the crowd with messages of both love and hate, saying, “Love me. I can't take it no more without no good love. I want some lovin'. Ain't nobody gonna love my ass?” and alternately, “You're all a bunch of fuckin' idiots!” and screaming “What are you gonna do about it?” over and over again. At one point, Morrison removed the hat of an onstage police officer and threw it into the crowd; the officer, in turn, removed Morrison's hat and threw it. Manager Bill Siddons recalled, “The gig was a bizarre, circus-like thing, there was this guy carrying a sheep and the wildest people that I'd ever seen”. Equipment chief Vince Treanor said, “Somebody jumped up and poured champagne on Jim so he took his shirt off, he was soaking wet. 'Let's see a little skin, let's get naked,' he said, and the audience started taking their clothes off.” Having removed his shirt, Morrison held it in front of his groin area and started to make hand movements behind it. Manzarek later described the incident as a mass “religious hallucination“.
On March 5, the Dade County Sheriff's office issued a warrant for Morrison's arrest claiming Morrison deliberately exposed his penis while on stage, shouted obscenities to the crowd, simulated oral sex on guitarist Robby Krieger and was drunk at the time of his performance. Morrison turned down a plea bargain that required The Doors to perform a free Miami concert. He was later convicted, sentenced to six months in jail, with hard labor, and ordered to pay a $500 fine. Morrison remained free pending an appeal of his conviction, and would die before the matter was legally resolved. In 2007 Florida Govenor Charlie Crist suggested the possibility of a posthumous pardon for Morrison, which was announced as successful on December 9, 2010. Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek have denied the allegation that Morrison exposed himself on stage that night.
During the recording of their next album, in November 1969, Morrison once again found himself in trouble with the law after harassing airline staff during a flight to Phoenix, Arizona to see The Rolling Stones in concert. Both Morrison and his friend and traveling companion Tom Baker were charged with “interfering with the flight of an intercontinental aircraft and public drunkenness“. If convicted of the most serious charge, Morrison could have faced a possible ten-year federal prison sentence for the incident. The charges were dropped in April 1970 after an airline stewardess reversed her testimony to say she mistakenly identified Morrison as Baker.
On December 8, 1970, his 27th birthday, Morrison recorded another poetry session. Part of this would end up on “An American Prayer” in 1978 with music, and is currently in the possession of the Courson family. The Doors' tour to promote their upcoming album L.A. Woman would comprise only two dates. The first was held in Dallas, Texas on December 11th. During the Doors' last public performance with Morrison, at The Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 12th, 1970, Morrison apparently had a breakdown on stage. Midway through the set he slammed the microphone numerous times into the stage floor until the platform beneath was destroyed, then sat down and refused to perform for the remainder of the show. Drummer John Densmore recalls the incident in his biography “Riders On The Storm”, where after the show he met with Ray and Robby; they decided to end their live act, citing their mutual agreement that Morrison was ready to retire from performing.
Morrison died on July 3rd, 1971. In the official account of his death, he was found in a Paris apartment bathtub by Courson. Pursuant to French law, no autopsy was performed because the medical examiner claimed to have found no evidence of foul play. The absence of an official autopsy, and the death certificate not having a reason of death besides heart failure has left many questions regarding the cause of death. Morrison was buried in the “Poets Corner” of Pere Lachaise Cemetery on July 7th. The epitaph on his headstone bears the Greek inscription “ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ“, literally meaning “According to his own daimōn” and usually interpreted as “True to his own spirit“.
Morrison died at age 27, the same age as several other famous rock stars in the 27 Club. Morrison's girlfriend, Pamela Courson, also died at the age of 27.
The 27 club is a term used to refer to popular musicians who have died at the age of 27, often as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. This list includes Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. They all died at the age of 27, giving rise to the idea that premature deaths at this age are unusually common.
Source: Wikipedia The Doors & Wikipedia The 27 Club Full List
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