Born: 1965 Primary Instrument: Band/orchestra
From their beginnings during the summer of 1965 at Venice Beach, California, The Doors were truly aband, a remarkable fusion of creative energies, a lot of attention has been focused on Jim Morrison which his looks and talents clearly justify. However, Jim was well aware that the magic of The Doors could never have happened without the fortunate forging of John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison into a single creative whole. It is no mystery why Jim Morrison never went solo; so sympathetic were the three other musicians to Jim's mission that such a consideration was out of the question. Robby Krieger, or example, was able to write lyrics and music that sounded more like Morrison than Morrison himself among them Light My Fire, Love Me Two Times,and Love Her Madly. Without 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 and, in defiance of all odds, to successive generations who have since discovered The Doors as a new group.
Ray Manzarek, a classically trained pianist, raised in Chicago with a deep love for the blues, wrote the themes for many of the songs and played not only the keyboard parts but simultaneously (with his left hand) propelled the band with melodic driving bass lines. John Densmore, a jazz drummer with an unbeatable knack for shamanic rhythm and theatrical timing... the band's tireless engine. Robby Krieger, a songwriting secret weapon who could play any guitar, from classic flamenco to bottle-neck blues, to creating styles and sounds previously unheard on this planet. And Jim Morrison, the baritone, eclectic/electric 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 diamond.
The band took its name from the poet-visionary-artist 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 sufficiently 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 bandmates. Everyone agreed that the name, as well as the inspiration from which it sprang, was perfect to convey who they were and clearly representive for what they stood for. The group was signed to Elektra Records, then a small folk-music record company, in July of 1966 by Jac Holzman, Elektra's founder.
The group never added a bass player, and their sound was dominated by Manzarek's electric organ work and Morrison's deep, sonorous voice, with which he sang and intoned his highly poetic lyrics. The group signed to Elektra Records in 1966 and released its first album, The Doors, featuring the hit Light My Fire, in 1967.
Like Light My Fire, the debut album was a massive hit, and endures as one of the most exciting, groundbreaking recordings of the psychedelic era. Blending blues, classical, Eastern music, and pop into sinister but beguiling melodies, the band sounded like no other. With his rich, chilling vocals and somber poetic visions, Morrison explored the depths of the darkest and most thrilling aspects of the psychedelic experience. Their first effort was so stellar, in fact, that the Doors were hard-pressed to match it, and although their next few albums contained a wealth of first-rate material, the group also began running up against the limitations of their recklessly disturbing visions. By their third album, they had exhausted their initial reservoir of compositions, and some of the tracks they hurriedly devised to meet public demand were clearly inferior to, and imitative of, their best early work.
On The Soft Parade, the group experimented with brass sections, with mixed results. Accused (without much merit) by much of the rock underground as pop sellouts, the group charged back hard with the final two albums they recorded with Morrison, on which they drew upon stone-cold blues for much of their inspiration, especially on 1971's L.A. Woman.
From the start, the Doors' focus was the charismatic Morrison, who proved increasingly unstable over the group's brief career. In 1969, Morrison was arrested for indecent exposure during a concert in Miami, an incident that nearly derailed the band. Nevertheless, the Doors managed to turn out a series of successful albums and singles through 1971, when, upon the completion of L.A. Woman, Morrison decamped for Paris. He died there, apparently of a drug overdose. The three surviving Doors tried to carry on without him, but ultimately disbanded. Yet the Doors' music and Morrison's legend continued to fascinate succeeding generations of rock fans: In the mid-'80s, Morrison was as big a star as he'd been in the mid-'60s, and Elektra has sold numerous quantities of the Doors' original albums plus reissues and releases of live material over the years, while publishers have flooded bookstores with Doors and Morrison biographies. In 1991, director Oliver Stone made The Doors, a feature film about the group starring Val Kilmer as Morrison.
1967 – Strange Days
1968 – Waiting for the Sun
1969 – The Soft Parade
1970 – Morrison Hotel
1971 – L.A. Woman
1971 – Other Voices 1972 – Full Circle
1978 – An American Prayer Videography 1983 – No One Here Gets Out Alive
1985 – Dance on Fire
1987 – Live at the Hollywood Bowl
1989 – Live in Europe 1968
1991 – The Doors are Open
1997 – The Best of Doors
2001 – VH1 Storytellers
2001 – The Doors – 30 Years Commemorative Edition
2002 – Soundstage Performances
2008 – Classic Albums: The Doors
2010 – When You're Strange
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