By Chris Porter
In 1965, Jim Morrison (vocals) and Ray Manzarek (keyboards/keyboardbass) were at film school in LA, working on projects together, when they realized they also shared an interest in music. After the classically trained keyboard player began to add Morrison’s poetry to a blues soundtrack, they joined garage rockers (Ray’s brothers) Rick & The Ravens. However, they soon discovered a more inspired backing from two buddies who had previously been employed by The Psychedelic Rangers.
Robbie Kreiger (guitar) had been raised on a diet of Chicago blues and this, coupled with flamenco-style guitar tuition and exposure to R&B radio, had helped him to forge a unique style, while John Densmore(drums) was a would-be beatnik frequenting clubs such as Shelley Manne’s Hole, listening to John Coltrane and the rants of Allen Ginsberg. Taking the name The Doors from Aldous Huxley’s The Doors Of Perception, the quartet put a year into rehearsal and songwriting, which led to bookings on Sunset Strip and eventually a residency at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go.
Throughout 1966, The Doors played alongside the rising stars of the day, including The Byrds and Van Morrison’s Them. The two Morrisons became close, jamming together and comparing notes on blues standards. The with the addition of bass player Doug Labahn, The Doors (1967) were hailed by a billboard on Sunset Boulevard – the first of its kind for a rock act. Holzman had discovered a hit-making team who, having won the affections of LA’s alternative society, had set their sights on the FM radio audience with the release of their first self-titled album, The Doors. By Christmas of the same year, they released Strange Days. Though another strong record, this release didn’t stray too far from the territory covered by the debut. It did, however, propel their popularity with singles such as “Love me Two Times”and “People are Strange”. 1968’s Waiting For the Sun returned them to the #1 spot in the US album charts and gave them a second chart-topping single in “Hello I Love You”.
Elektra’s original biography quoted Morrison’s interests as ‘revolt, disorder, chaos and any activity that seems to have no meaning’ and, as the touring progressed, he backed this up with ever more indulgent behavior. He soaked himself in alcohol and exposed his companions to temperamental outbursts: he blighted recording sessions by destroying equipment, and disrupted live shows with self-indulgent displays of mock sex and profanities. 69’s The Soft Parade may have been their weakest effort, but attempts to emulate the experimentation employed by contemporaries were not met with much success. Morrison’s frustration was apparent in a series of live fiascos, which culminated in March 1969 with what was to become known as the ‘Flasher Incident’. This Florida concert was seen as the beginning of the end of Jim Morrison, resulting in a string of legal battles that would haunt him until his death.
The group returned from the studio in 1970 with Morrison Hotel, an unqualified success. Jim’s legal battles created a furor that caused the band to break from touring. In that absence, with enough recordings to do so, The Doors released a live album, Absolutely Live(1970), which was well received since it captured the band’s “live experience” including their more popular mid-60s material. The band’s recording renaissance continued apace with L.A. Woman (1971). This collection of visceral songs was an artistic success, but the band’s leader was growing distant from his fellow Doors and at the turn of the decade they embarked on a tour of the Southern US which was to be their last.
In March 1971, Morrison and girlfriend Pamela moved to Paris with the intention of starting a new life there. Riddled by drug and alcohol problems, their stay reached a grievous conclusion on July 3, when the 27-year-old singer was found dead in his bathtub. Speculation abounded as to the exact cause of death – no autopsy was performed – but it seems likely that Morrison’s body finally gave in to the rigors of drug and alcohol abuse. Even though it seems that Jim Morrison crumbled when he left the protection of the band, the band died without him. The (3) remaining members released (3) unsuccessful albums after Jims death. Its a shame; A band so unprecedented and influential to other artists such as The Cult andLenny Kravitz seems to only come around once in a lifetime. Lets hope for the future, I guess. Please feel free to visit the Doors Official Website here.