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The Doors
ĎI see myself as a huge fiery comet, a shooting star. Everyone stops, points up and gasps "Oh look at that!" Then woosh, Iím gone...and theyíll never see anything like it ever again, and they wonít be able to forget me. Ever.í ~ Jim Morrison

When the Doors emerged in 1967, the world of rock music had never seen anything quite like them before. Americaís answer to the Beatles, the group burned brightly, burned out and left behind an everlasting legacy. The end of the 1960s was a volatile time ~ both for popular music and the world ~ and they provided the perfect prism through which listeners could view the changes that were sweeping society. Although their time in the limelight was brief, four decades on, all that they shared is still with us. For their records sell almost as well now as they did in the groupís brief life, and to celebrate the groupís 40th anniversary in 2007, all six original albums have been remastered and expanded for the first time ever.

Birth Of The Doors:
During the summer of 1965, Ray Manzarek, a keyboardist in a small local rock band, ran into singer Jim Morrison, someone he knew fairly well from UCLA film school. Manzarek recalled that fateful July day: ďI met him on the beach in Venice. He said he had been writing some songs, so we sat on the beach and I asked him to sing some of them. He did, and the first thing he tried was Moonlight Drive. When he sang those first lines, I said ĎThatís it.í Iíd never heard lyrics to a rock song like that before. We talked a while before we decided to get a group together and make a million dollars.í Morrison moved in with Manzarek, and by the end of the year, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robbie Krieger (Manzarek met both of them in his meditation class) would complete the lineup.

Deriving their name from a William Blake quote Morrison found in the Aldous Huxley book The Doors Of Perception, the newly minted group began playing small clubs across Los Angeles, and eventually found themselves at the notorious Whiskey A Go-Go, opening for known bands like The Turtles, Buffalo Springfield and The Animals. By then, the band had about twenty-five original songs in their repertoire, which they began to perform onstage to much acclaim. On the advice of Arthur Lee, front man of psychedelic act L.O.V.E (who were signed to Elektra Records), Jac Holzman, the head of Elektra, went over to the club to check the boys out.

Jim Morrison: The Mystical Shaman
The continued fascination with the band has everything to do with frontman Jim Morrison, the bandís charismatic lead singer who died way before his time. Satanís seraph, Morrison was a creatively driven man prone to extreme mood swings, and portrayed himself as a poet trapped in a popstarís body. Well versed in the works of Nietzsche, Blake and Sartre, he saw the world though a different view than most. Morrison was also fascinated by Native American mysticism, for when he was a child, he had witnessed a horrific car accident in which some Pueblo Indians were killed. He would claim throughout his life that one of the Indianís souls had entered his body at the time of their death; this gave rise to a number of the bandís best loved songs ~ Riders On The Storm, The Crystal Ship, and The Ghost Song.

The Doors After Morrison:
After the death of Morrison, the remaining Doors would release two more albums (Other Voices and Full Circle ~ with Manzarek and Krieger filling in on vocals) before disbanding the unit in 1973. A final release, An American Prayer followed in 1978, with the band adding music to Morrison reciting his own poetry. Hollywood would soon discover the band as well: Director Francis Ford Coppola would use their music in his 1979 film Apocalypse Now to great effect, and in 1991 director Oliver Stone made a biographical movie on the band called The Doors. Starring future Batman star Val Kilmer as Morrison and with cameos by Krieger and Densmore; the movie created a whole new generation of fans. In the late 90s, Manzarek and Krieger planned a reunion tour, but Densmore declined the offer, and would take his two bandmates to court after they began touring as The Doors again. Manzarek and Kriegerís band now call themselves Riders On The Storm (after their hit song) and Ian Astbury, the singer from 80ís rock band the Cult, stands in for Morrison.

You can read the rest of our feature on The Doors in the April 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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