With his rich, chilling vocals and somber poetic visions, Morrison explored the depths of the darkest and most thrilling aspects of the psychedelic experience.
December 9: Jim Morrison Arrested in New Haven
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 's L. From the start, the Doors ' focus was the charismatic Morrison , who proved increasingly unstable over the group's brief career. In , Morrison was arrested for indecent exposure during a concert in Miami, an incident that nearly derailed the band.
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Nevertheless, the Doors managed to turn out a series of successful albums and singles through , when, upon the completion of L. 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. The light changed. We were aware knee-deep in the fluttering air as the ships move on trains in their wake. Me and my mother and father, and a grandmother and a grandfather.
The Doors: the story of Strange Days and the madness of Jim Morrison | Louder
So the car pulls up and stops. That was the first time I tasted fear. I musta' been about four — like a child is like a flower, his head is just floating in the breeze, man. The reaction I get now thinking about it, looking back — is that the souls of the ghosts of those dead Indians But in Jim they came together so I had to accept it. We all had to. That was the card we were dealt as a band. Genius or not, Jim Morrison had never been what passed in the midth century for a normal person. The eldest son of Rear Admiral George Morrison of the United States Navy, he grew up a well-educated but self-absorbed child who became a major disappointment to his father when, instead of following in the family footsteps and going to naval college, he plumped instead for a degree course in film studies in Los Angeles.
In , Morrison sang Manzarek the opening verse to the song that became Moonlight Drive , while tripping on the beach at Venice. Morrison, famously, saw only stars. The band that they formed, The Doors, arrived just as rock was at its most fearsomely individualistic, before the rules of the road had been written.
And we have seen that we are the equal, and perhaps better, of any generation that ever existed — that we could do anything. And we were so fuelled with life and possibilities that we were bursting at the seams, mentally and certainly semen-wise. We were bursting with life.
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By the start of , the first, self-titled Doors album was ready for release. It was also then that Jim Morrison, college dropout and hippy Hollywood maverick, began his transformation into the Lizard King — the alternate, take-noprisoners, no-one-here-gets-out-alive rock-consciousness that would ultimately both build his legend and deprive him of his senses, until all that was left was a bloated body floating in a cold bathtub. Just six months before, the band had been depicted in promo shots wearing mod-style suits, their longish hair neatly styled.
Now, with their first album smoking up the charts, they emerged on to the covers of magazines as the epitome of a darker, more mysterious kind of cool. On the surface then, The Doors seemed to be on-message like no other band of the moment. It was the thought of what we might do next. Strange Days , then, would be aptly named. Not all such occasions ended so harmoniously though. Morrison loved Krieger, yet hated him too for having written Light My Fire. Not any more, though. And that fucked with his head, along with all the other things that would fuck with his head from hereon in.
The only way he could deal with it was to let it out, and to hell with the consequences.
The Doors: the story of Strange Days and the madness of Jim Morrison
When he tried to laugh it off, she broke a bottle of Southern Comfort over his head and called him an asshole. It was a relief when the initial Strange Days sessions were called to a halt while the band returned to the road to promote their big hit. But to miss out on Monterrey, which took place in their own Californian back yard, and is now regarded as one of the most historic events in rock history — with a bill that included Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Ravi Shankar — that must have hurt more than a little?
If I had realised that fact I probably would have really been mad. We had no clue. Yet in July , Morrison appeared blissfully unaware of either Reed or his still unknown outfit of, as he would have seen it, Broadway dropouts and Bowery freaks. The Doors were now riding high, selling more records per week than the Velvets would manage in their entire career together, and when Morrison saw Nico he simply had to have her.
But Nico now gave her heart to Jim Morrison. The singer was used to crazy women, groupies and hangers-on, but Nico was different and Morrison offered to help write her songs, many of which later ended up on her solo album, The Marble Index. Songs with an undeniable Morrison flavour like Lawns Of Dawns, Frozen Warnings and Evening Of Light — none of which she would eventually offer him any credit for, on the record sleeve or in interviews.
In the end, it only lasted a month or so. Pamela Courson knew where Morrison was, and whom he was with. When she started a very public affair of her own with Hollywood actor John Phillip Law, Morrison finally came to his senses.
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Early one morning, while Nico was still asleep, Morrison got in his car and drove back to LA, and Courson. Nico, utterly distraught, flew back to New York, where she dyed her hair an even darker shade of hell red. But the first album, we were a little intimidated by the studio. We had to learn how to make records.
And I would say by the second album we were more relaxed and we started using the studio as the fifth Door. I think we had an early copy of Sgt. Pepper and we were really turned on to experimenting with the studio and doing backward piano tracks and having a lot of fun. Some tracks came easier than others.
My Eyes Have Seen You dated back to the original demo that had won them their deal with Elektra the year before, but made more frantic with this telling, sounding more like the Stones, with barrelhouse piano and Tequila Sunset-drenched guitars. The title track came with a suitably disconnected lead vocal, fear and mystery and the chase to catch the new dawn. Moonlight Drive , the very first thing Morrison had ever sung for Manzarek, but never properly captured on tape well enough to make the first album, now came alive in the new studio, helped not a little by a new Moog synthesiser and a far-out new solo from Krieger.
As always, alcohol was his preferred stress-buster and now he began to hit the bottle in earnest. All the while they continued gigging, too, adding to the pressure, allowing them no rest, fitting in weekend gigs between late- night sessions in the studio.