The Doors Biography
From their beginnings during the summer of 1965 at Venice Beach, California, The Doors were a band of creative energy, with most of the focus on Jim Morrison. His looks and talents clearly tell why. Jim was well aware that the magic of The Doors could never have happened without the fortunate talents of John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison. Robby Krieger, for example, wrote lyrics and music that sounded a lot like Morrison’s work, such songs as “Light My Fire,” “Love Me Two Times,” and “Love Her Madly.” There are many that think Jim was the only creative poet in the band, when in fact there were two.
If it wasn’t for Krieger, Manzarek and Densmore there is a strong chance that Jim’s songs would never have made it off the page, into rehearsal, onto the stage, into the recording studio. It took all three to successfully create the masterwork of “The Doors.”
Ray Manzarek, was a trained pianist, raised in Chicago with a deep love for the blues. He wrote the themes for many of the songs and played not only the keyboard parts but simultaneously (with his left hand) played the melodic driving bass lines. John Densmore, a jazz drummer with an unbeatable skill for shamanic rhythm and theatrical timing, was the band’s tireless engine. Robby Krieger, a song writing secret weapon who could play any guitar from classic flamenco to bottle neck blues, created styles and sounds previously unheard by man. And Jim Morrison, the baritone, was a talented poet with an innate compositional gift and the soul of a mystic. Together these men brought The Doors’ songs to life. They were equal points of a musical phenomenon.
The band got its name from the poet William Blake, who had written, “When the doors of perception are cleansed, things will appear to man as they truly are, infinite.” English author Aldous Huxley was inspired by Blake’s quote to title his book on mescaline experiences The Doors of Perception. Morrison was so connected to both works that he proposed, The Doors, to his band mates. Everyone agreed that the name, was perfect to convey who they were and clearly represent what they stood for.
The group was signed to Elektra Records in July of 1966 by Jac Holzman, Elektra’s founder. At that time Elektra Records was a small folk music record company. By April 1971, The Doors had recorded six landmark studio LP’s and a two record set of live performances. The first seven discs with producer Paul A. Rothchild and the last one co produced by The Doors and their career long engineer Bruce Botnick. The Doors and Elektra had grown into world famed institutions.
The band’s un stated goal was to accomplish musical alchemy, to fuse rock music with both existent poetry and improvisational theater. Jim was influenced by the nineteenth century poet Arthur Rimbaud and he dutifully imparted Rimbaud’s philosophy to the group. Rimbaud advocated a systematic “rational derangement of all the senses in order to achieve the unknown.”
Morrison was a man who would not, could not, and did not know how to compromise himself or his art. He was driven to go all the way or die trying, the ultimate ecstatic risk taker. Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore’s contribution to this state of creative bliss cannot be underestimated. Jim’s improves onstage required the other three Doors to not merely play arrangements but to follow Jim’s unplanned creativity perfectly in one of the music’s classic and most difficult feats the art of perceptive chords. Jim once said, “For me, it was never really an act, those so called performances. It was a life and death thing, an attempt to communicate, to involve many people in a private world of thought.”
During the late 1960’s bands sang of love and peace while acid was passed out. It was different for The Doors. The nights belonged to Pan and Dionysus, they are gods of revelry and rebirth, and their songs invoked their strong passions. The Oedipal nightmare of “The End,” the breathless gallop of “Not to Touch the Earth,” the doom of “Hyacinth House,” the ecstasy of “Light My Fire,” the dark uneasy undertones of “Can’t See Your Face in My Mind,” and the alluring loss of Consciousness in “Crystal Ship.” As with Dionysus, The Doors offered themselves as a sacrifice to be torn apart, to bleed, to die, to be reborn for yet another night in another town.
To be a poet meant more to Morrison than writing poems. It meant embracing the tragedy fate has chosen for you and fulfilling that destiny with enthusiasm and dignity.
In the end, after conquering America, after being shackled by the courts and laws of the land that he loved, he escaped to Paris. Home of so many expatriate artists, to pursue his life as a poet. His body was too worn down, his heart too weak; he had already seen, done and drunk too much. He had lived life on his own terms, And now must pay for his actions. Death was closer and easier than returning to America, to the endless succession of stages it demanded. Jim Morrison passed away in Paris on July 3, 1971. His dying wish was to be remembered as a poet, and not as a rock star.
Pamela Morrison used to tell a story from the earliest day of The Doors. They were playing their first club, The London Fog. It was their last set of the night and there were only three people in the club, two drunks and Pamela. The band was intense. Jim raged and exploded with super human passion with an excellent performance. Pam was stunned. In the car she could say nothing. Long after arriving home she was still speechless. Jim asked, “What’s wrong baby?” Pam said, “There were three people in the club during the last set yet you burned like you were performing for thousands of people. Why did you go so far, risk so much for a tiny audience that was barely aware of your presence?” Jim looked at her and said slowly, “You never know when you’re doing your last set.”
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