The Doors – Psychedelic Blues Legends of California
Who Are The Doors?
The Doors are most well known to the average listener by their hits such as 1967’s “Light My Fire” and “Break on Through”, but their is a far deeper story to the band and their charismatic frontman. The Doors were formed in Los Angeles, 1965, by vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboard player Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore.
The band started when Morrison and Manzarek met as students of the UCLA School of Theatre and Television while living in Venice Beach. The two began writing songs together and formed a partnership that would remain throughout the band’s career. Initially, Morrison played in a band with Manzarek and his two brothers called Rick & the Ravens, which eventually morphed into the Doors as they brought in Krieger and Densmore. The name of the band was taken from Aldous Huxley’s book, “The Doors of Perception”, about the authors experiences with trying the hallucinogen mescaline in the early 1950s. In 1966 they were signed to Elektra Records, a label that usually specialised in folk artists and acts, and released their debut album in 1967 under an eponymous title.
How Did The Doors Become Famous?
With the release of The Doors’ first album came their first single release, “Break on Through (to the Other Side)”. The release was accompanied by a promotional film for the song, a rare occurrence in the 1960s, yet it was not commercially successful. The band thus turned to a composition written by Krieger, “Light My Fire”, which became Elektra’s first number one hit on the charts. This was the beginning of the Doors’ commercial success as a band, but their debut album also proved that they had much deeper artistic sensibilities in hand, with the final track of the album being the largely poetic and chaotic song, “The End”.
However, the band’s wildness did not remain solely on their recordings. When witnessing the band live, audiences could expect Morrison, who was dubbed “the Poet”, stripping naked and provoking the police as he embraced the atmosphere of rock stardom. Throughout the next few years, Morrison struggled in his personal life with drug and alcohol abuse, leading to legal problems and interpersonal tensions with those around him.
What Were The Doors Known For?
The next four albums released by the Doors experimented with different techniques in music, being one of the first bands to use a Moog synthesiser in rock, and digging deeper into their roots as a blues influenced act. Despite mixed reviews from critics for this work, as well as lukewarm sales of their singles, the Doors remained as an immensely popular act amongst fellow musicians and played festivals to fans worldwide. Much of this was down to Jim Morrison’s performance energy on stage, the pure songwriting and musicianship of the band, and the chemistry that they had when playing together.
In 1971 the band decided to reclaim their position as one of the top acts in popular music by recording the album “LA Woman”. The recording of this album led to a fallout with longtime Doors producer Paul Rothchild, yet upon its release signified a powerful return to form for the band. The album managed to solidify its place in rock music and pop culture history with the epic tracks “LA Woman” and “Riders of the Storm”, as well as several others that remain as radio staples to this day.
What Happened to Jim Morrison and The Doors?
Following the release of this album, amidst years of a tumultuous life in the spotlight, Morrison moved to Paris with his girlfriend Pamela Coulson. It was here that he died in 1971, at the age of 27, the same as many other popular cult figures in music history. Morrison is buried in the Poet’s Corner of Pere Lachaise cemetery, where his gravestone reads a Greek translation of “True to his own Spirit”.
If you love the blues and all things rock and roll, why not come down to the blues jam at Northern Soul on Fridays and Tuesdays?