The Doors: The Doors of Perception
KRIEGER I first met Jim when he came to my house with John Densmore; he seemed pretty normal. I didn’t really get a sense that there was anything unusual about him until the end of our first rehearsal. Initially, everything was cool. Then this guy came by. Something had gone wrong with a dope deal, and Jim just went nuts. Absolutely bananas. I thought, Jesus Christ, this guy’s not normal.
DENSMORE One night, Jim asked me to take him to this girl Rosanna’s apartment in Beverly Hills. This attractive blonde let him in, surprised he was there. We went in and sat down at the kitchen table, and Jim started rolling joints, acting like he lived there. “Help yourself, Jim,” she said sarcastically. I felt claustrophobic from the mounting tension, so I said I’d be back in a little while and split.
When I came back, the door opened as I knocked, so I walked in and saw Jim holding a large kitchen knife to Rosanna’s stomach. A couple of buttons on her blouse popped as Jim twisted her arm behind her back. My pulse tripled, and I went, “What do we have here?” trying to defuse the situation. Jim looked at me with surprise and let Rosanna go. “Just having a little fun.” Jim put the knife down and Rosanna’s expression changed from fear and rage to relief. I asked him if he wanted a ride home, and when he said no, I made a quick retreat. At the time, I rationalized leaving that girl in a potentially dangerous situation with Jim by thinking that there was definitely sexual tension in the room as well as violent tension. But to be honest, I was worried about myself; I couldn’t tell anyone that I was in a band with a psychotic because if they said I should quit, I would have no options. The Doors was my only ticket out of my family and into a career I loved and wanted so badly.
MANZAREK After Robby joined, we spent about six months rehearsing, and then our first real gig was as the house band at the London Fog on Sunset Strip. We’d go look longingly into the window of the Whisky. And within three months, by June ’66, we were the house band there. We played there through summer and got fired in late August for playing “The End.”
It was the first time Jim ever recited the oedipal section: “The killer awoke before dawn…” Even we had never heard it before. He minced words on the record, but certainly not in person. It was, “Father, I want to kill you. Mother, I want to fuck you.” I knew it was going to get us in trouble, but I thought it was brilliant. He was doing a dream interpretation of the classic Freudian Oedipus complex that was so talked about in the early Sixties.
KRIEGER We were all kind of freaked out recording the first album, because we didn’t know what it would be like. We didn’t understand the studio process, so, for example, it really bothered us that we couldn’t turn up as loud as we wanted. But we had been playing those songs for so long that we really had the material down cold. Everything was cut in one or two takes.
DENSMORE We recorded the first album in 10 days or so because we really knew the songs, almost all of which were written just after Robby joined.
KRIEGER While we were recording “The End,” our engineer, Bruce Botnick, had brought a TV into the studio to watch the World Series. Jim, who was on a lot of acid, got kind of pissed off because baseball wasn’t exactly conducive to setting the right mood for “The End,” so he threw the damn thing through the control room window. That got everyone’s attention.
BRUCE BOTNICK I’ll tell you one thing: Jim did not throw my TV through the control room window. He knocked it over, and I really believe even that was an accident. I still have the little TV, so I know. Everyone remembers this great big scene, but it did not happen. If the control room window had been shattered, I would know, believe me. It would have stopped the session dead in its tracks.
KRIEGER I also remember Jim sitting at the table out in the snack bar area ranting on and on, “Fuck the mother, kill the father. That’s where it’s at, man. Fuck the mother, kill the father.” And we’re going, “Yeah, right, Jim, but we’ve got to record. How about singing?” We finally got him into the studio for two takes and we nailed it—the vocal is actually Jim’s live take, which is pretty unusual for us. And then we thanked God, because considering Jim’s state of mind, we knew we weren’t going to have too many cracks at it.
KRIEGER We recorded our second album less than a year after our first, but we were ready. We had tons of material and were anxious to record.
MANZAREK God, it’s incredible to look back upon how much we did so fast. And it’s not as if we were under some kind of insane pressure. We were just doing our thing, but the entire society was operating at a furious clip. War was going on, man. People were dying. Young American men were dying and getting maimed thousands of miles away in Vietnam, a country about which we knew nothing. There was a horror loose on the planet. Consequently, we had an intense visitation of energy in those years. So nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
It was so much more of an exciting time; everything was a matter of life and death. Now it’s a matter of slow suffocation and eventual capitulation to the powers that be. A slow putting on of the yoke.
KRIEGER One night while recording Strange Days, we were getting ready to leave for the night. Jim, who didn’t want to stop because he was feeling good, kept saying, “Man, I want to play all night.” But we were all tired and wanted to go home. Jim finally left, but he came back half an hour later, climbed over the fence, broke into the studio, took out the fire extinguisher and sprayed it into the piano and all over everything. It was quite a surprise in the morning.
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