The Doors: The Doors of Perception
DENSMORE We knew all the groups in the San Fran scene—the clique of the Dead, the Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service— but we were odd men out. We didn’t fit in anywhere. We were in the L.A. scene but we were always different there, too. It was more peace and love than we ever were.
KRIEGER We never got too close with the San Francisco groups—especially the Dead, who wouldn’t let us use their amps one night. We had a gig at Beverly Hills High one afternoon and another in Santa Barbara that night, so we left our gear, figuring the Dead would let us use their stuff. You’d always let people use your amps in those days, but they just refused.
MANZAREK We didn’t have the California sound. We were neither a surfer band nor a folk-rock band with close harmony. There wasn’t any country and western in it. It was big-city music, based in black roots rather than white. And it’s pretty white out here in California. This is a much whiter part of the country than most people realize.
DENSMORE Robby and I always talked about Jim’s darkness, which we caught on to early on, though Ray says he didn’t sense it. I was always thinking, like, Oh, shit. Love just replaced their drummer and I’m better than the new guy. Damn, if I was only in that band there wouldn’t be this pressure, this strain of always wondering what’s going to happen with Morrison being so wild and out there.
KRIEGER It was hard living with Jim. It would have been so great if we’d just had a guy like Sting—a normal guy who’s extremely talented, too. Someone who didn’t have to be on the verge of life and death every second.
DENSMORE I don’t think Jim ever missed a gig. Several times he was so wrecked that it was terrible, but for such a wild guy it’s pretty amazing that he made the gigs and was always able to pull himself together to make great records.
KRIEGER The music was all Jim lived for. Often, he was at the office when we weren’t. He even lived there sometimes, because that was his whole life. We all had lives outside the Doors, but he didn’t, and he kind of resented that. He felt like he was living it 24 hours a day, and we weren’t. And he was right.
Still, the recording sessions really bored him. We had to hang around interminably until they got the drum sound down and all that shit, so I can’t blame him for going nuts. Paul Rothchild, our producer, was a real perfectionist. And things got really bad by our third album. We had no more material and Jim was pretty fucked up on liquor by then, so it was hard to write with him. That’s when I started writing more of my own songs.
MANZAREK Waiting for the Sun was a low point. Jim had really hit the bottle and was firmly in the grips of alcoholism, although we didn’t understand it at the time. Not that Jim hadn’t been drinking before, but this was taken to a whole new level. This was no longer a young man’s drinking. It was a full man’s alcohol abuse.
KRIEGER That’s when the liquor really started being a problem. Before that, everything was more or less fine. LSD was no problem because it was a creative thing. There’s nothing good about liquor—it just fucks you up—though at first it relaxes you, which is what you probably need after taking eight zillion acid trips.
And Jim was being taken advantage of by hangers-on. He would bring them to the studio and Rothchild would go bonkers—all these drunken assholes would be hanging around, fucking in the echo chamber and pissing in the closets. It was a mess. Jim would drink with anybody because we wouldn’t drink with him. He would take on all these assholes who used him: “Hey, we’re hanging with Jimbo.” And they wouldn’t care how fucked up he got—they’d leave him on somebody’s doorstep in his own puke. I actually never drank with him because I didn’t like to drink to excess and he loved to go until he couldn’t see. I knew what was coming and hated to see it, so I would usually be gone by that point. John and Ray felt the same way. And for all of us the romance of drugs was definitely gone by then because of what we were seeing in front of our faces.
MANZAREK There were a lot of days during those sessions where we said, “Jim’s unable to do anything.” There started being periods where we didn’t see him for five days or a week. Then he’d show up and go, “Oay, let’s get back to work.”
KRIEGER We were getting depressed about the whole situation, so it helped that “Hello, I Love You” and Waiting for the Sun were Number One hits. That really buoyed our spirits.
MANZAREK We had done three albums featuring the Doors in their truest and purest essence. It was time to feature the Doors with augmentation. That was the whole idea behind using an orchestra and horn section on The Soft Parade.
KRIEGER I was skeptical. I thought that the Doors would be lost, that it would just become “Jim and the big band.” I was wrong, and I didn’t realize it until I first heard “Touch Me” booming through the big studio speakers. Until that point, I really thought it was just a keep-up-with-the-Joneses thing: the Beatles made Sgt. Pepper’s, and suddenly everyone had to record with strings and horns. I didn’t see any need for us to follow along.
All I remember are endless mixing sessions. That was a very long, drawnout album. We spent more money on it than we did on any other album. And Jim was hard to find. All the mixing bored the hell out of him.
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