Saturday, April 9, 2011

Psychedelic Pioneers: The Doors


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 Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception. 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.

The Doors came to be because of a chance meeting between acquaintances and fellow UCLA film school alumni Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California in July 1965. Morrison told Manzarek "I was taking notes at a fantastic rock-n-roll concert going on in my head" and, with Manzarek's encouragement, sang "Moonlight Drive". Impressed by Morrison's lyrics, Manzarek suggested they form a band.

By 1966, the group was playing the LA club London Fog and soon graduated to the prestigious Whiskey a Go Go, where they were the house band. On August 10, they were spotted by Elektra Records president Jac Holzman. After Holzman and producer Paul A. Rothchild saw two sets of the band playing at the Whisky a Go Go, they signed them to the Elektra Records label on August 18—the start of a long and successful partnership with Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick. Later that month, the club fired the band after a profanity-filled performance of "The End". In an incident that foreshadowed the controversy that later followed the group, an acid-tripping Morrison raucously recited his own version of the Greek drama Oedipus Rex, in which Oedipus unknowingly kills his father and has sex with his mother.

During the Doors' last public performance with Morrison, at The Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 12, 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 Robbie; they decided to end their live act, citing their mutual agreement that Morrison was ready to retire from performing.

Jim Morrison died on July 3, 1971. In the official account of his death, he was found in a Paris apartment bathtub. 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 Morrison's cause of death.

Jim Morrison died at age 27, the same age as several other famous rock stars, including Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of the Grateful Dead, Alan Wilson of Canned Heat, and Gary Thain of Uriah Heep. Morrison's girlfriend, Pamela Courson, also died at the age of 27.

In 1993, The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Doors Live in Concert

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