From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
The Doors were simultaneously spooky, sharp witted and playfully raunchy. Their blend of blues, swirling, hypnotic melodies and controversial lyrics helped usher psychedelia to the forefront of mainstream rock and roll, and secured their position as one of the best bands to come out of the L.A. scene in the late 60s. Members included Ray Manzarek (keyboards, vocals), Robby Krieger (guitar), John Densmore (drums) and last but not least, the self proclaimed "lizard king" himself, Jim Morrison (lead vocals).
The origins of the band lay in a chance July, 1965 meeting between acquaintances and fellow UCLA film school alumni Morrison and Manzarek in Venice Beach, CA. Morrison told Manzarek he had been writing songs and, at Manzarek's encouragement, sang 'Moonlight Drive'. Impressed by Morrison's vocals and lyrics, Manzarek suggested they form a band. Manzarek was already in a band with his brother Rick called Rick & The Ravens, while Krieger and Densmore were playing with the Psychedelic Rangers and knew Manzarek from yoga and meditation classes. In August, 1965, Densmore joined the group and, along with members of the Ravens and bass player Pat Sullivan, they recorded a six-song demo in September of that year. That same month, the group recruited guitarist Robby Krieger, and the final lineup was complete. They took their name from the title of a book by Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception), which was in turn borrowed from a line in a poem by 18th century artist and poet William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite".
The Doors were highly unusual compared to other rock groups because they did not have a full time bass player, nor did they feature the instrument when playing live. Instead, Manzarek played the bass lines with his left hand on the newly invented Fender Rhodes bass keyboard (an offshoot of the well-known Fender Rhodes electric piano) while at the same time playing other keyboards with his right hand. On their studio albums, Manzarek shared bass keyboards with well known bass guitar session musicians like Jerry Scheff, Lonnie Mack, Harvey Brooks (of Bob Dylan and Bloomfield, Kooper & Stills fame), Douglas Lubahn (from Clear Light) and Ray Neapolitan (from the Cosmic Brotherhood). Many of the Doors' original songs were group compositions, with Morrison or Krieger contributing the lyrics and an initial melody, and the others providing harmonic and rhythmic suggestions, or even entire sections of song (i.e. - Manzarek's organ introduction to 'Light My Fire').
By 1966, the band was playing L.A.'s London Fog club and soon graduated to the prestigious Whisky a Go Go. In August of that year, they were discovered by Elektra Records president Jac Holzman who was present during one of their live Whisky performances at the recommendation of Love singer/composer Arthur Lee, whose group was already flying high on Elektra. After Holzman and producer Paul A. Rothchild saw two sets, they signed the Doors to Elektra a little over a week later, which became the start of a long and successful partnership with Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick. The timing was fortuitous because three days after being signed, the Whisky fired the band after a profanity-filled performance of 'The End'. In an incident that foreshadowed the controversy that would continually follow the group, an acid-tripping Morrison raucously recited his own rendition of the Greek drama Oedipus Rex in which the play's protagonist, Oedipus, kills his father and has sex with his mother.
The Doors' self-titled debut LP was recorded over the span of just a few days in late August, 1966 and finally released in the first week of January, 1967. It features most of the major songs from their live sets and was recorded almost entirely live in the studio with many songs captured in a single take. The album is excellent from start to finish and is considered by many to be one of the best rock records of the 60s and one of the strongest debut LPs of all time. After the tracks were laid down, Morrison and Manzarek directed a promotional film for the lead single 'Break On Through (To The Other Side)', which was a significant advancement in the development of the music video genre. To promote the single, the Doors made their television debut on a local L.A. TV show called Shebang, miming the instrumentation and vocals. Their second single ('Light My Fire') became a smash hit in mid '67 and established the group in the vein of their northern neighbors the Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead as one of America's leading counterculture bands. Morrison solidified his status as a rock and roll rebel in late 1967 when he was arrested in New Haven, CT for badmouthing the police to the audience, claiming he had been maced by an officer after being caught backstage with a girl.
Like most bands, their follow up LP (Strange Days) was recorded in a less spontaneous manner than their debut, but is still praised for its evocative lyrics and atmosphere. The closing track ('When The Music's Over') is similar to 'The End', lengthy and dramatic, and helped establish Morrison's reputation as the shaman of rock. The album was also commercially successful and features the now classic songs 'People Are Strange' and 'Love Me Two Times'. As a result of their continued success, the Doors forfeited their status as underground heroes, allowing Sixteen magazine to portray them as teen idols and expose the fact that their "spontaneous" stage-show was in reality, not so spontaneous. An article by Jerry Hopkins in the February 10, 1968 edition of Rolling Stone typified the fall from grace: "One shtick, or piece of stage-business, missing at the Shrine performance, was Morrison's carefully-executed 'accidental' fall from the stage into the crowd". For months, this routine had been a part of the group's act and had gotten a lot of screams from the teenyboppers, but when a review appeared in a local newspaper calling it out as one of the phoniest things ever, Morrison decided to stop doing it altogether. Morrison was asked if he had read the article and he replied "Yeah, and I guess he's right". Morrison did not take the fall that night at the Shrine.
In the spring of 1968, the recording of their third LP (Waiting For The Sun) was marred by tension as a result of Morrison's increasing dependence on alcohol. Approaching the height of their popularity, the Doors played a series of outdoor shows that led to frenzied skurmishes between fans and police. The band also began to branch out from their initial mold, mainly because they had exhausted their original cache of songs and were now writing brand new material. The record subsequently became their first #1 album and the single 'Hello, I Love You' was their second and last song to hit #1 in the U.S. Controversy also surrounded the song when critics pointed out its musical resemblance to the Kinks' 1965 hit 'All Day And All Of The Night'. Members of the Kinks have concurred and their guitarist Dave Davies has been known to add snippets of 'Hello, I Love You' during solo live performances of 'All Day And All Of The Night' as a sarcastic commentary on the subject. When the Doors played the song in concert, Morrison was occasionally dismissive and left the vocal chores to Manzarek.
On March 1, 1969, the Doors finally hit a brick wall while playing live at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, FL where Morrison gave what many consider his most controversial performance. The restless crowd was subjected to Morrison's disinterest in singing the songs that night, as well as his unconventional emotional outbursts, screaming challenges to the audience, and irreverent social statements. The confusion and taunts led to some out of control situations involving Morrison, various staff and audience participants, resulting in an abrupt end to the show shortly after being on stage for about an hour. At first, the performance was simply seen as Morrison having been drunk beyond any saving grace, but once a slanderous review of it was reported in the local press, Morrison's exhibition took on a snowball effect in the form of a media and legal firestorm. On March 5th, a warrant was issued for Morrison's arrest on charges of indecency and obscenity, and one after another all the subsequent gigs of the band's upcoming tour were cancelled. Morrison was eventually convicted on the counts of public profanity and indecent exposure (these convictions plagued the band throughout the remaining years of Morrison's life - his case still up for appeal upon his death).
The groups fourth LP (The Soft Parade) was released in the summer of 1969 and is considered by many to be one of their weakest efforts. The music further distanced the band from their core fan base by containing pop-oriented arrangements and brass and string sections. On top of it, Morrison's drinking and hundreds of LSD trips made him increasingly more difficult and unreliable, causing the recording sessions to drag on for weeks. Studio costs piled up and the Doors came close to disintegrating. The standout track on the record is the Krieger penned 'Touch Me', which features a great saxophone solo by Curtis Amy.
In early 1970, the Doors bounced back big with their fifth LP titled Morrison Hotel, which returned the band to a more basic sound, yet includes highly original melodies reminiscent of their first two albums. The record contains a balanced mix of harder songs like 'Roadhouse Blues' and 'Peace Frog' with softer more melodic tracks like 'Indian Summer', 'The Spy' and 'Blue Sunday'. The LP hit #4 in the U.S. and renewed their high status among fans and the rock press. It also saw the return of Morrison as the main songwriter, as opposed to the poppier The Soft Parade, in which Robbie Krieger had contributed an unusually large number of songs. On December 12, 1970, the band played the Warehouse in New Orleans, LA, where Morrison apparently had a breakdown on stage, slamming his microphone numerous times into the stage floor - it was to be the Doors' last public performance with Morrison.
The group looked set to regain its crown as a premier act with the release of a sixth LP (L.A. Woman) in the spring of 1971. Two of the album's tracks ('L.A. Woman' and 'Love Her Madly') became Top 20 hits, helping it to become the group's second best-selling studio album, surpassed in sales only by their debut. The album continued in the vein of Morrison Hotel, although during rehearsals they had a falling-out with Rothchild, who denounced the new material as "cocktail music" and abruptly quit, handing full production responsibility to engineer Bruce Botnick. The result is considered to be a classic Doors album, containing many notable songs.
In March, 1971, following the recording of L.A. Woman, Morrison decided to take some time off and moved to Paris with girlfriend, Pamela Courson. He had visited the city the previous summer and was fascinated by its unique character. By the summer of that year, he was drinking heavily again and on June 16, 1971, the last known recording of Morrison was made when he befriended two street musicians at a bar and invited them to a studio. Morrison died under mysterious circumstances on July 3, 1971, his body found in the bathtub of his apartment. It was officially concluded that he had died of a heart attack, although it was later revealed that no autopsy had been performed before his body was buried at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris on July 7. There are persistent rumors that Morrison faked his death to escape the spotlight or died at a nightclub and that his body had been surreptitiously taken to his apartment.
The surviving members of the Doors continued for some time, initially considering replacing Morrison with a new singer (it has been reported that Iggy Pop was one of the frontmen considered as a possible replacement). Instead, Krieger and Manzarek took over on vocals and the band released two more little known LPs: Other Voices, which was released in October, 1971 and Full Circle, which was issued in August, 1972. The group actually went on tour after the release of these records, but unfortunately they sold far less than the Morrison era releases, and the Doors stopped performing and recording at the end of 1972.
Songs from this album played on TWOS:
(Original 45 Label: Elektra 45611, A - January, 1967)
(Original 45 Label: Elektra 45611, B - January, 1967)
(Original 45 Label: Elektra 45615, A - May, 1967)
(Original 45 Label: Elektra 45615, B - May, 1967)
Songs from this album played on TWOS:
(Original 45 Label: Elektra 45726, A - April, 1971)
(Original 45 Label: Elektra 45738, A - June, 1971)