Monday, March 15, 2010

#28 Break on through with The Doors

The summer of 1965 saw the formation of what is in my opinion the greatest rock band to ever come out of Los Angeles, California. When Ray Manzarek and fellow UCLA student Jim Morrison met by chance one morning on the Venice beach, Morrison mentioned casually that he had been writing a lot of poetry and songs. Manzarek eventually coerced him into singing a bit of it to him and was immediately so impressed by Jim that he demanded they start a band together. The Doors consisted of Morrison (lead vocals), Manzarek (keyboards, vocals), Robby Krieger (guitar) and John Densmore (drums, percussion). They burst onto the scene that summer with a totally unique sound that immediately blew audiences away. The lyrics that Morrison was writing were unlike anything else in rock and roll at that time and his passion and pain that he conveyed in every note were easily audible on their records. Unlike the majority of rock bands at the time, the Doors rarely, if ever, used the bass guitar in their work. The odd time they used it, they usually got the sound from the bass setting on Manzarek's Fender Rhodes electric piano.

For the majority of 1966, they were the house band for local LA lounge bar 'The Whiskey A Go Go'. They began to get an immense and cult following and began making noise in all the right places. One of their last shows at the whiskey, was with Van Morrison's band 'Them' and the finale included both bands rocking out a version of the song 'Gloria'. Elektra Records president Jac Holzman was in the crowd that night and was blown away. He attended a few more Doors shows that month and then offered them a record deal. This came at the right moment because the Whiskey A Go Go fired them the week after when Morrison let loose on stage and took their song 'The End' in a new direction and added what was at the time extremely offensive language. He ended the song with "Father I want to Kill you...... Mother..... I want to Fuck You" which was not something you yelled into a microphone in 1966.

The on stage antics of Jim Morrison would only get wilder and wilder as time went by. They stemmed from his fear of being on stage as he always considered himself a poet and not a rock star. Throughout their career, he was increasingly intoxicated on stage and would often switch between seducing and verbally assault his audience. He would often be so messed up that they would turn off his microphone and Manzarek would sing Morrison's vocals in his best 'Jim' impression. He eventually was doing this so often that many people couldn't tell the difference between them vocally. Jim Morrison's 'bad boy of rock' image grew and went to his head only worsening his condition and serving to isolate him from his band mates. At the high mark of all this, Jim was arrested on stage in Miami after he flashed his penis to the audience during a song. His drinking and drug abuse were growing more and more heavy and it was affecting not only his live performances but also his writing and his emotional relationships with his fellow band members.

By 1970 The Doors were finished as a group and decided to quit performing live as they saw it was destroying Morrison. In early 1971 Jim and his girlfriend Pam moved to Paris so that Jim could get clean and get out of the spotlight for a while. Sadly, less then 4 months after he moved to Paris, Jim Morrison was found dead in his hotel room from what was apparently a drug related death (though there are many theories around why he actually died). Before he died, Jim recorded about an hour of his poetry with a few street musicians he had bumped into in Paris. The bootleg, called 'The Lost Paris Tapes', is hauntingly beautiful and contains some wonderful poetry showing that Jim was definitely still the poet he always had been.

The music of The Doors has lasted the last 30 years though and continues to be extremely popular. Although he was often wasted on drugs and booze, Jim Morrison was a lyrical genius and his songs are remain a source of beauty and sixties mysticism that really touch the soul of the listener. I for one even enjoy the live shows I have bootleg copies of. I find the way he would interrupt songs in the middle to go off on these drunken rants, often horribly abusing the audience to be incredibly enjoyable and quite often laughable. Even then it is as if he is singing just for one person and not to an entire crowd. I think that the music of The Doors will continue to be enjoyed for many decades to come.

My fave Jim Morrison story was the one where he met Janis Joplin at a party. A mutual acquaintance thought they would make the ultimate couple and so he tried to hook them up at this party. Unfortunately when Janis arrived, Jim was already incoherently drunk and said something to her about fucking her in the ass and she left immediately, vowing to never see 'That drunk asshole ever again'. Seeing her leave, Jim chased after her and grabbed her by the hair and tried to pull her out of the car. Janis responded by crashing a bourbon bottle over his head before speeding off. Jim lay on the ground bleeding from the head crying out "That was the woman of my dreams! I love her!"
Jim at his best! hahah I know it is wrong but I love that story. Way to go Jimmy.

The Facts:
-The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 1993.
-6 albums together, a seventh posthumous, and two without Morrison and 9 in total.
-In 1967 the group played the Ed Sullivan show and were asked to not sing "Baby we can't get much Higher" in the song 'Light My Fire' and were instead asked to sing it 'Baby we can't get much better'. The band agreed, but when they played live on the show, Morrison grinned straight at the camera and sang it the way they wrote it anyway.

My Fave Album:
- I would have to say that their debut album 'The Doors' would be my fave although I have to say that I enjoy almost all of their albums the same amount. Their debut however, really captures that mystic rebel feeling that I get when I think of Morrison and it has some great tracks on it that I have always really enjoyed. It flawlessly blends acid rock with blues and jazz in a way that is totally unseen in rock and roll for the most part. It conjures the sixties for me in a way that no other albums really do and as someone with a lot of stage fright I can connect with Morrison in that way and it makes me enjoy the Doors even more. He was not perfect, in fact sometimes he was quite an asshole but he was Jim Morrison and he was, as he always claimed he was, 'The Lizard King'.

Enjoy 'Riders on the Storm' one of my fave songs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jim was THE biggest hearthrob of my was so great to love such bad boys lol