The Doors: A Retrospective

“In the beginning we were creating our music, ourselves, every night . . . starting with a few outlines, maybe a few words for a song. Sometimes we worked out in Venice, looking at the surf. We were together a lot and it was good times for all of us. Acid, sun, friends, the ocean, and poetry and music.” —Jim Morrison


Band Members: Jim Morrison (vocals), Ray Manzarek (keyboard), Robby Krieger (guitar), John Densmore (drums)

Select Albums: The Doors (1967), Strange Days (1967), Waiting for the Sun (1968), The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970), L.A. Woman(1971)

Source of Band’s Name: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite.” —William Blake

Favorite Haunt: Whisky-a-Go-Go, Los Angeles

Influences: Jack Kerouac, Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Rimbaud, Dylan Thomas, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Antonin Artaud, Hieronymous Bosch, Charles Baudelaire

Interests: “I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning.” —Jim Morrison

Morrison’s Nicknames: “Lizard King,” “Erotic Politician,” “Mr. Mojo Risin'”

Most Popular Songs: “Light My Fire,” “Love Me Two Times,” “Hello, I Love You,” “Riders on the Storm,” “Touch Me,” “L.A. Woman,” “The End,” “Roadhouse Blues”

Strangest Songs: “Horse Latitudes,” “Spanish Caravan,” “Yes, the River Knows,” “The Soft Parade,” “Peace Frog,” “Land Ho!,” “My Wild Love,” “Hyacinth House”

Most Underrated Song: “Love Street”

Hollywood Comes Calling: Oliver Stones’ The Doors, 1991, with Val Kilmer (Jim Morrison), Meg Ryan (Pamela Courson), Kyle MacLachlan (Ray Manzarek), Frank Whaley (Robby Krieger), Kevin Dillon (John Densmore)

Manzarek On MacLachlan’s Portrayal: “Stiff. Too stiff. Too wooden. Get him a membership in the hemp brigade. Loosen up.”

Roger Ebert on The Doors (1991): “Watching the movie is like being stuck in a bar with an obnoxious drunk when you’re not drinking.”

Best Biography: No One Here Gets Out Alive, Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman, Warner Books, 1980


On Culture

“Twentieth-century culture’s disease is the inability to feel their reality. People cluster to TV, soap operas, movies, theater, pop idols and they have wild emotion over symbols. But in the reality of their own lives, they’re emotionally dead.”

On Drinking

“Getting drunk . . . you’re in complete control up to a point. It’s your choice, every time you take a sip. You have a lot of small choices. It’s like . . . I guess it’s the difference between suicide and slow capitulation . . .”

On Drugs

“I wonder why people like to believe I’m high all the time. I guess . . . maybe they think someone else can take their trip for them.”

On Film

“The good thing about film is that there aren’t any experts. There’s no authority on film. Any one person can assimilate and contain the whole history of film in himself, which you can’t do in other arts.”

On the Future

“We are drifting in blind orbits, helpless, alone.”

On Freedom

“I think there should be a national carnival, much the same as Mardi Gras in Rio. There should be a week of national hilarity . . . a cessation of all work, all business, all discrimination, all authority. A week of total freedom. That’d be a start. Of course, the power structure wouldn’t really alter. It would just last for a week and then go back to the way it was. I think we need it.”

On Poetry

“If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it’s to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel.”

On Society

“Maybe primitive people have less bullshit to let go of, to give up. A person has to be willing to give up everything – not just wealth. All the bullshit he’s been taught – all society’s brainwashing. You have to let go of all that to get to the other side. Most people aren’t willing to do that.”



Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida, and his father was a rear admiral in the United States Navy.

A film student at UCLA, Morrison took a couple of courses with Francis Ford Coppola.

The band was originally supposed to be called “The Doors: Opened & Closed.”

Rolling Stone magazine called “Hello, I Love You,” a “jagged Kinks’ rip-off.”

After Morrison tried to invoke a riot at a concert in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 9, 1967, he was arrested for “indecent and immoral exhibition.” After a Miami concert in 1969, Morrison was arrested for “indecent exposure,” “public drunkenness,” “obscenity” and “feigning acts of masturbation and fellatio.”

During an appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” The Doors were instructed to delete the word “higher” from the song “Light My Fire.” Morrison sang the word anyway and the band was never invited back.

Exactly two years to the day before his own death, Morrison penned a tribute to Rolling Stone Brian Jones, who drowned in his swimming pool. The poem was titled “Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones – Deceased.”

Reacting to a heckler near the stage, Morrison once said: “You know, sometimes I wish this weren’t a democracy, because if it wasn’t, we could take this guy out somewhere and beat the shit out of him.”

The Doors’ producer Paul Rothchild said “Riders on the Storm” sounded like “cocktail music.”

After Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died within weeks of each other, Morrison told his friends, “You’re drinking with No. 3.”



Break on Through (To The Other Side)

“I found an island in your arms/Country in your eyes/Arms that chain us/Eyes that lie/Break on through to the other side”

The End

“The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on/He took a face from the ancient gallery/And he walked on down the hall . . .”

Hello, I Love You

“Sidewalk crouches at her feet/Like a dog that begs for something sweet/Do you hope to make her see you fool?/Do you hope to pluck this dusky jewel?”

L.A. Woman

“Drivin’ down your freeways/Midnight alleys roam/Cops in cars, the topless bars/Never saw a woman/So alone, so alone . . . Motel money murder madness/Let’s change the mood from glad to sadness”

Light My Fire

“The time to hesitate is through/No time to wallow in the mire/try now we can only lose/And our love become a funeral pyre”

Peace Frog

“Indians scattered on a dawn’s highway bleeding, ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind.”

Runnin’ Blues

“Poor Otis dead and gone/Left me here to sing his song/Pretty little girl with the red dress on/Poor Otis dead and gone”

The Unknown Soldier

“Breakfast where the news is read/television children fed/unborn living, living dead/bullet strikes the helmet’s head”

When the Music’s Over

“Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection/Send my credentials to the house of detention/I got some friends inside/The face in the mirror won’t stop/The girl in the window won’t drop/A feast of friends alive she cried/Waiting for me/Outside”

Yes, the River Knows

“Please believe me/If you don’t need me/I’m going, but I need a little time/I promised I would drown myself in mysticated wine”


On July 3, 1971, Jim Morrison reportedly died of “heart failure” at the age of 27 in the bathtub of a Paris apartment. During his last few months, he had decided to quit the band, retire to Paris and become a serious “poet.”

Rumors spread throughout Paris that Morrison had actually overdosed on heroin at a nightclub called “The Circus.”

Others claim that it was the mind-numbing quantity of booze Morrison consumed that led to his hasty demise.

Meanwhile, a Scandinavian magazine published an article suggesting Morrison was actually assassinated by French intelligence agents for unknown reasons.

When road manager Bill Siddons showed up in Paris, he was greeted by Morrison’s girlfriend, Pamela Courson, with a sealed coffin and a death certificate. No police report or autopsy has ever turned up.

Did Morrison actually fake his death and head to Africa, following in the footsteps of his hero Rimbaud, who became a slave trader and gun runner shortly after completing “A Season in Hell”?

Courson took the secret with her to the grave, overdosing on heroin in 1974.

Morrison is buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France, along with Balzac, Chopin and Oscar Wilde.


“As I look back
over my life

I am struck by post

Ruined Snap Shots

faded posters

Of a time, I can’t recall”

”This is the end, beautiful friend.

This is the end, my only friend. The end

Of our elaborate plans. The end

Of everything that stands, the end.

No safety or surprise, the end.

I’ll never look into your eyes again.”

“Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality.

I was curious to see what would happen.

That’s all it was: just curiosity.” 

—Jim Morrison, Los Angeles, 1969

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