The Doors: The Doors of Perception
MANZAREK Jim was eventually convicted— sentenced to hard labor, man—but he stayed free while he appealed. I was shocked when I heard about the charge of simulation of oral copulation. I couldn’t figure out where that came from until I saw the picture of Jim on his knees in front of Robby during a guitar solo. He was on his hands and knees, egging on Robby and his guitar, but the charge was a joke, man. As for the other charges: being drunk in public? Guilty. Using profanity? Guilty.
MANZAREK During the sessions for Morrison Hotel, Jim was on trial in Miami and we couldn’t get gigs anywhere, which obviously affected the mood. Another factor in making that album was that everyone had knocked us for overproducing The Soft Parade, so we kind of wanted to get back to the basics.
KRIEGER “Roadhouse Blues” is one of my personal favorites. I was always proud of that song because, as simple as it is, it’s not just another blues. That one little lick makes it a song, and I think that sums up the genius of the Doors. I think that song stands up really well as an example of what made us a great band. And the session was really cool— one of my fondest memories of the band. We cut the tune live, with John Sebastian playing harp and Lonnie Mack playing bass.
DENSMORE As soon as we could we went back on the road, which I didn’t really want to do. I begged them to get off the road for a year because of Jim’s deterioration, which I think, unfortunately, weighed heaviest on me. Robby, who just loved to play music, somehow managed not to look at Jim’s collapse, and Ray wouldn’t look at it at all. We played Dallas, Texas, and it was really good, so I thought, “Wow, maybe we could be more mature, a little jazzier. Maybe we could have a live career again.” But it was an illusion. Jim couldn’t stop. He was past that at this point. The next night we played New Orleans and it was just pathetic. We went home and never played live with Jim again.
DANNY SUGERMAN The three of them decided not to push it any more with Jim, but I think Jim’s desire to play live really diminished as well. People were expecting more and more from him, and I think he resented their expectations that he be this charismatic, unpredictable, wild frontman and, after Miami, to whip it out every night. And I know he resented people expecting to hear “Light My Fire” every night. He thought of himself as an artist and felt that the audience was not getting it. What he lived for was being misinterpreted, so he decided to just completely stop trying to be what his audience expected.
KRIEGER At the time of L.A. Woman, the Doors were looking like a doomed thing and I felt like Paul Rothchild was a rat deserting a sinking ship. We couldn’t play anywhere, Morrison Hotel didn’t do that well, Jim looked bad and was getting fat. And I think we came up with something so loose exactly because there was no pressure. We figured we were already screwed, so we were having fun again. All things considered, I thought it was pretty cool that L.A. Woman did well.
BOTNICK We went back into the studio and very early Paul turned to me and said, “I just can’t do this again. I’m not getting off on it anymore.” He didn’t have the strength to get it up again. There were times when the albums wouldn’t have gotten done if Paul hadn’t been there as the controlling ringmaster, but, as a result, it became the norm for him to be in control, rather than backing off and allowing the albums to evolve naturally. He realized that they were tired of it. They couldn’t get it up again, either. They had been through a lot and wanted to get in and out and have some fun, to do things in a more relaxed manner. So I rented a bunch of equipment and brought it to the Doors’ Workshop, their rehearsal space, where they were comfortable, and we rolled tape.
KRIEGER The warden was gone. We just kind of took it for granted that Paul would produce and we would do things his way—that you should stick with a successful formula. He was very important to a lot of the albums, but it just wasn’t going to work again.
BOTNICK Making L.A. Woman was a very, very nice experience. As soon as Paul was gone, Jim was totally different. He was on great behavior—on time every day, not drinking—and having a lot of fun, because the father figure wasn’t there. That sort of rebellion was a reflex action for him. His father was an admiral in the Navy and everything was, “Yes sir, no sir,” and I think that all his rebellion was a lashing out at that. With Paul removed, none of the demons that had taken him over during the other recordings were present.
DENSMORE Whenever someone became an authority figure, Jim rebelled. It happened with Ray. He lived with Ray and [Ray’s wife] Dorothy in the early days and they were very close. Then Ray told him to get a haircut or something and Jim went nuts and trashed their house.
KRIEGER Jim was almost like Ray and Dorothy’s son. Then he rebelled and fucked their house up—trashed it on more than one occasion. He took advantage of them in many ways.
MANZAREK It felt great to have success with “Love Her Madly,” which was a big AM hit, and “L.A. Woman” and “Riders on the Storm,” which were big FM hits. And it seemed appropriate, because recording the album was terrific. We knocked that baby out in a week. We had Jerry Scheff, Elvis’ bass player, and Marc Benno playing guitar, which freed up Robby and really cut back on the need to overdub. Two-thirds of the album is recorded live, with Jim singing along in his vocal booth—the bathroom, with its great echo.
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