John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, Robby Kreiger, and James Morrison. Together they were known as The Doors, an iconic band in Rock 'N Roll history.They are the story for the ages, the epitome of rock 'n roll for many. The Doors came together in 1965 in Los Angeles, taking the name from an Aldous Huxley book, The Doors of Perception. Oddly, the book title was a reference to a quote of William Blake, an English poet & painter almost 200 years before. And that would sum them up, for they enjoyed the intellectual side of things, almost as much as they enjoyed the earthier side of life. But not quite. Nothing quite surpassed their appreciation of the excesses of the rock 'n roll lifestyle. But that was hardly surprising coming from a couple of former UCLA film students in Morrison and Manzarek.
They quickly became known for an unpredictable stage show, mostly in the form of lead singer Jimmy Morrison. The somewhat reluctant frontman took on a personae of a lounge lizard, with a sleazy, over-sexed attitude that could lead to just about anything. In fact, he was arrested on more than one occasion, and claims the notorious claim to being the first ever rock star arrested on stage on December 9, 1967, in New Haven, Connecticut. Between the alcohol and the drugs, it was often tough to predict what Morrison would do in public. But it was not hard to predict he would be gorgeous, and the performances were charged with a raw sexuality that few could equal.
25 years ago, The Doors released their first single, recorded in 1966 and released in the first week of January in 1967. It was Light My Fire, written by the band and appearing on the album as an 11 minute song. As it was getting requests on the radio, it was soon edited to fit the 3 minute bill, and soon found it to be #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. So here are the Doors, singing Light My Fire.
Later in 1967, the band release another of the songs they had written. It was an odd song for rock groups of the day, owing more to the theatrics of a Bertolt Brecht musical than the standard rock song of the day. That didn't stop them, for People Are Strange made it to #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The following year, the band managed to top the chart once again. And again, it was a song credited as being written by the band, and was quickly to become iconic. In June of 1968, The Doors released Hello, I Love You. It quickly made it's way up the chart, and was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In December of 1968, The Doors released a song written by Robby Kreiger, and much more orchestrated than anything they had done before. At the same time, it was also much sexier and raw than any, too. It became another iconic song for them. Here is Touch Me which made it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in at the end of the year in 1968.
Pretty much from their start in 1965 until the middle of 1971, the band worked consistently, either in the studio or on the road promoting their records. It seemed to be taking a toll on all of them, but especially Morrison. It was said that Jim often performed under the influence of alcohol, or maybe a combination of alcohol and drugs, which made his behavior even more erratic. Then, on July 3, 1971, Jim Morrison was discovered dead in the bathtub of his Paris apartment. No autopsy was done, and the cause of death listed was heart failure. Many assumed it was really an overdose. The other members of the band continued to play together as a trio until they called it a day in 1973. Their reputation only grew with time, and they are considered one of the great American rock bands ever. Yet when they were still together, they only had two #1 songs, and on other in the Top 10. In fact, some of my favorite songs of theirs did not do that well on the charts. But I can talk about them sometime soon.