THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE DOORS

The Life and Times Of The Doors.

By 1972, The Doors were history  after the tragic death of their charismatic frontman Jim Morrison, who had died on the 3rd July 1971. The Lizard King became the latest entrant into the twenty-seven club, where he joined Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Alan Wilson and Jimi Hendrix. This meant that The Doors’ career ended at the top and their fans memories of them were never tarnished.

The Doors were never going to grow old together and they would forever be the band that featured on their final album L.A. Woman. Never would they age. Nor would they make a series of comebacks or reunions. There would never be any third-rate albums released. No way. The Doors career ended whilst they were at the top with a classic album. What saddened their fans is that The Doors’ career ended in tragic circumstances. However, their many fans  still have their musical memories.

These memories included a sextet of critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums. Between 1967s The Doors and 1971s L.A. Woman, The Doors only ever released six albums. Their debut album, The Doors was certified platinum five times over. After that, four of the next five albums were certified platinum and one double platinum. That wasn’t all.

1970 saw The Doors’ release Absolutely Live. It was certified gold. The same year, they released their first compilation, 13. Released in January 1970, it was certified platinum. Then six months of the tragic loss of Jim Morrison, a second Doors’ compilation was released, Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine. It was  a fitting tribute to one of rock’s greatest ever groups, The Doors, whose career began in 1965.

It was in 1965, that The Doors were formed in Los Angeles. The Doors had taken their name from Aldous Huxley’s seminal book The Doors Of Perception.They were a quartet lead by the charismatic vocalist Jim Morrison. 

Jim Morrison was more than a singer, he was a lyricist and poet. He was a free spirit, charismatic, enigmatic and wildly unpredictable. Life was for living, and Jim Morrison lived a thousand lives in twenty-seven years. However, The Doors weren’t a one man band.

No. The Doors’ success was down to the four members of The Doors. This included drummer John Densmore, guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Together, they were about to enjoy the kind of commercial success and critical acclaim that they’d only dreamed of. 

The Doors got their break in 1966. That was when they signed to Elektra Records. It was the first label to spot the potential in psychedelic rock. Before long. Elektra Records started signing up a whole host of psychedelic rock bands. Among the most successful were Love and The Doors, who released their debut album in January 1967.

The Doors.

Recording of what became The Doors, took place between the 24th and 31st August 1966. Six months later, on 4th January 1967, The Doors was released. It would become one of most influential albums The Doors released. So much so, it’s worthy of being referred to as a classic. Gradually, The Doors reached number two in the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum five times over. Across the world, from Canada through Europe and into the UK, The Doors was critically acclaimed and commercially successful. In the UK it was certified platinum twice, while it was certified platinum five times over in France. This was helped by the commercial success of Light My Fire.

On its release Light My Fire, reached number one on the US Billboard 100 charts. It was the second single released from The Doors. Break On Through (To the Other Side) was the first single, but wasn’t a commercial success. Both singles featured on the 1972 compilation Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine. So did the haunting The End. It would go on to become a Doors’ classic. So would several songs from The Doors’ sophomore album Strange Days.

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Strange Days.

Eight months later, The Doors returned with Strange Days, their sophomore album. It was released to the same widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. Released on 25th September 1967, Strange Days was hailed a heavy, psychedelic classic, after it reached number three in the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in Strange Days being certified platinum. Eventually, nine million copies of Strange Days were released. No wonder. Look at the psychedelic delights of Strange Days.

Strange Days featured some of the most psychedelic songs The Doors ever released. Among them were Strange Days, Love Me Two Times, When The Music’s Over and the moody, haunting People Are Strange. These tracks would feature on the 1972 compilation Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine. Two of these tracks, People Are Strange and Love Me Two Times were released as singles. 

Both People Are Strange and Love Me Two Times reached the top thirty in the US Billboard 100, with People Are Strange proving the most successful, reaching number twelve. This proved that The Doors weren’t a one trick pony. No. The Doors were one of the heaviest, psychedelic rock bands of the sixties, lead by the charismatic Lizard King. Critics wondered what direction The Doors’ music would head?

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Waiting For The Sun.

July 1968 saw The Doors release their third album Waiting for the Sun. Just like Strange Days, many of the songs had been written before The Doors signed their first recording deal. The Doors matured early as songwriters, and had enough material for several albums of material. This included Waiting for the Sun.

Waiting for the Sun. became The Doors’ first number one album. This gave the The Doors’ their second platinum album. Just like their two previous albums, Waiting for the Sun was a huge success worldwide. Whether it was Europe, Britain or North America, The Doors were providing the soundtrack to a generation’s life. 

This included the two singles which were released from Waiting for the Sun. The first single was The Unknown Soldier, which was Jim Morrison’s reaction to the Vietnam War. A poignant, dramatic anti-war song, The Unknown Soldier gave voice to the frustration and anger a generation felt. Instantly, The Doors became the voice of a generation. This showed another side of The Doors’ music. Very different was the second single from Waiting for the Sun, Hello I Love You. It’s best described as two minutes of perfect pop. A timeless anthem,  Hello I Love You gave The Doors a number one single. However,  Hello I Love You doesn’t feature on Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine.

Instead, the compilers choose two hidden gems from Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine. They’re Love Street and Five To One. Love Street started life as a poem and became a baroque pop song. Five To One saw Jim Morrison drawing inspiration from the ninth century hymn and bedtime rhyme Now the Day is Over. By eschewing the obvious, when compiling Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine, it became one of the most captivating compilations of The Doors’ music ever released. What tracks from The Doors’ fourth album The Soft Parade.

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The Soft Parade.

Never before had a year passed before The Doors’ released an album. That’s until they released The Soft Parade. It was released on 21st July 1969. Gone was the stripped down, understated sound of their first three albums. Instead, The Doors decided to add strings and horns. Some fans and critics didn’t welcome this change of sound. They also had a problem with the lyrics.

For some fans, The Soft Parade’s lyrics were formulaic. They felt that The Doors were following a formula when it came to writing lyrics. Given this was their fourth album, fans and critics felt that The Doors sound had to change. Despite this, The Soft Parade was a commercial success.

Released on 21st July 1969, The Soft Parade reached number six in the US Billboard 200 charts. This was The Doors’ least successful album. However, it still was certified platinum. This success continued with the lead single.

Who Scared You was released in 1968, as a taster of The Soft Parade.  It reached number three in the US Billboard 100. The other three singles, Wishful Sinful, All The People and Runnin’ Blue all charted, but failed to crack the top thirty in the US Billboard 10. None of the singles feature Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine.

Instead, Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine features Who Scared You and Shaman’s Blue. Who Scared You was the B-Side to Wishful Sinful, Shaman’s Blues, with its laid-back, lysergic sound, epitomises the late-sixties and is one of the forgotten highlights of The Soft Parade, which marked a change in The Doors’ music. What next for The Doors?

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Morrison Hotel.

As a new decade dawned, little did The Doors know that they’d only release two more studio albums. The first of these two albums was Morrison Hotel, which saw The Doors change direction again

For their fourth album The Soft Parade, The Doors changed direction. This didn’t please critics and fans. So, on on Morrison Hotel, The Doors returned to their trademark sound and combined it with a bluesy hue. Recording took place during August 1966, March 1968 and November 1969. The result was a fusion of psychedelia and blues rock. It proved popular with critics and music lovers.

Released on 9th February 1970, Morrison Hotel, which is often referred to as Hard Rock Café, after the title of the first side of the album, reached number four in the Us Billboard 200. This resulted in Morrison Hotel being certified platinum. Over the Atlantic, Morrison Hotel was certified gold. That was a familiar story. Throughout the world, Morrison Hotel was both commercially successful and critically acclaimed. The Doors were back, despite Morrison Hotel not featuring a hit single.

You Make Me Real was the only single released from Morrison Hotel. It stalled at just number fifty in the US Billboard 100. Maybe that’s why You Make Me Real doesn’t feature on Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine. Roadhouse Blues the B-side to You Make Me Real features on Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine. So does The Spy, Maggie McGill and Ship Of Fools. They feature The Doors at the peak of their powers, when they were one of the biggest and best bands of the late-sixties. Absolutely Live The Doors first live album, is proof of this.

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Absolutely Live.

Just five months after the release of Morrison Hotel, The Doors released their first live album, Absolutely Live. It was a tantalising taste of The Doors live. This was a double album that had been compiled from The Doors’ tour. Absolutely Live is one of the best live albums you could hope to hear. Featuring The Lizard King at his most charismatic, he struts his way through some of The Door’ best known songs. It’s no surprise that Absolutely Live was a huge commercial success.

Released on 20th July 1970, Absolutely Live reached number eight in the US Billboard 200. It was certified gold. The same year, The Doors released their first compilation, 13 and the commercial success kept on coming.

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13.

Released in November 1970, 13 featured some of greatest music The Doors released between 1967 and 1967. So, it’s no surprise that it reached number twenty-five in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in 13 being certified platinum. It seemed The Doors could do no wrong.

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L.A. Woman.

L.A. Woman proved to be the last album released during Jim Morrison’s lifetime. It was released on 19th April 1971. Three months after the release of L.A. Woman, The Lizard King was dead. His swan-song was L.A. Woman.

Just like Morrison Hotel, L.A. Woman saw The Doors combine blues rock and psychedelia. There was a difference though. Longtime Doors’ producer Paul Rothschild had been replaced. In his place, Bruce Botnick co-produced L.A. Woman with The Doors, which marked another appearance from Jim Morrison’s alter ego, the blues veteran.

At this point in his life, Jim Morrison was heavily Influenced by legendary blues singers like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. This influence began on Morrison Hotel, and continued on L.A. Woman. 

Recording of L.A. Woman began at The Doors workshop, in Los Angeles. After that, much of L.A. Woman was recorded live. The recording took just two months. Between December 1970 and January 1971 ten tracks were recorded. Only a few overdubs were added. So essentially, L.A. Woman is a live album. It was also critically acclaimed and commercially successful.

Released on April 19th 1971, L.A. Woman reached number eight in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in L.A. Woman being certified double platinum. Across the world, L.A. Woman sold in vast quantities. Even more so, three months later when The Doors’ charismatic frontman Jim Morrison had died on the 3rd July 1971. Before that, there was still the small matter of two top twenty singles.

They were L.A. Woman and Love Her Madly. L.A. Woman reached number eleven in the US Billboard 100. Riders In The Storm, a true Doors’ classic then reached number fourteen in the US Billboard 100. This marked the end of an era. Never again, would the original lineup of The Doors release another album. So, it’s fitting that four tracks from L.A. Woman feature on Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine.

A quartet of tracks that feature on  feature on Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine include the anthemic L.A. Woman, the single Love Her Madly and its B-Side (You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further). The other track is The Wasp (Texas Radio & The Big Beat). Just like the other tracks, it shows what The Doors were capable of. They were one of the most exciting, innovative and pioneering band of the late-sixties. Their music is timeless and remains some of the finest rock music ever recorded.  However, the question we’ll never know the answer to, is what further greatness The Doors might have achieved? 

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One Voice.

One can only speculate the direction that The Doors’ music might have headed? They did release one further album, One Voice. Released in October 1971, it reached just number thirty-one in the US Billboard 100. Without the charismatic Lizard King’s vocals, The Doors weren’t the same band, the band that features on the second compilation they released Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine, which was originally released in January 1972.

Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine.

On it release in January 1972, Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine reached number fifty-five in the US Billboard 200. It was certified gold and is a captivating compilation of one of the greatest bands in musical history. One of the reasons for this, is the choice of music on Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine, which was a double album.

Rather than just make Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine a greatest hits album, the compiler digs deeper. B-Sides, rarities and album tracks are included. The result is a fascinating overview of one of the most innovative and pioneering bands in musical history. Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine was a fitting tribute to The Lizard King. On its release, Weird Scenes From Inside The Gold Mine was certified gold. This meant that in the space of five years, The Doors had sold over thirteen-million albums.

Over five years, The Doors released six studio albums, one live album and one compilation. They sold over thirteen million copies in America alone. Across the world, The Doors were one of the biggest selling bands of the late-sixties and early seventies. There’s a reason for this. The Doors pushed musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, beyond. Their music was ambitious, groundbreaking and genre-melting as well as ambitious and innovative.  The Doors are one of he greatest groups of all time and release several classic albums.

This included their debut album The Doors, and their sophomore album Strange Days, plus  Waiting for the Sun, Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman, which tragically, proved to be The Doors’ swan-song. These albums showcase one of the greatest groups of the sixties and early seventies. Sadly, their time at the top was cut tragically shot.

Never again, would the original lineup of The Doors set foot in a recording studio. As a result, The Doors’ career ended at the top. Our memories of them were never tarnished. The Doors never got to grow old together. Instead, they would forever be the band that featured on their final album L.A. Woman. Never would they age. Nor would they make a series of comebacks or reunions. Instead, The Doors will forever remain one of the most important, innovative, influential and successful groups in musical history, 

The Life and Times Of The Doors.

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