The Doors were one of the most influential and controversial rock bands of the 1960s. Formed in Los Angeles in 1965, the group was composed of singer Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. The Doors’ sound was a fusion of rock, blues, jazz, and classical music, and their lyrics were often surreal, poetic, and politically charged.
The band became widely known for their live performances, which were often marked by Morrison’s improvised vocals and unpredictable behavior. They were one of the first American bands to achieve widespread commercial success despite receiving little radio airplay. Their debut album, The Doors (1967), reached number two on the Billboard 200 chart and spawned the hit singles “Light My Fire” and “Break On Through (To the Other Side)”.
The Doors’ popularity grew throughout 1967 with their second album, Strange Days. The album contained the hit singles “People Are Strange” and “Love Me Two Times”. The band’s third album, Waiting for the Sun (1968), peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 and produced the single “Hello, I Love You”, which was their only US number-one hit.
By 1968, Morrison had become increasingly erratic and unpredictable onstage, often improvising lyrics and acting out sexually. This behavior, coupled with his heavy drinking, led to tensions within the band. In March 1969, Morrison was arrested for lewd behavior during a concert in Miami. The charges were later dropped, but the incident damaged the band’s reputation.
After Morrison’s death in 1971, the remaining members of The Doors continued to tour and release albums until 1973. They reunited in 1978 for a brief tour, and again in 2002 for a celebration of their 40th anniversary. The Doors have sold over 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time.
Here are 10 things you might not know about The Doors:
1. The band’s name was inspired by the Aldous Huxley book The Doors of Perception, which explored the use of psychedelics.
2. Morrison was originally the band’s drummer, but switched to lead vocals after Manzarek heard him sing an impromptu version of “Moonlight Drive”.
3. The Doors were one of the first American bands to be signed to a British record label, and their debut album was released in the UK before it came out in the US.
4. The band’s first gig was at the London Fog, a now-defunct club on the Sunset Strip.
5. “Light My Fire” was originally recorded as a slow blues song, but it was sped up and electrified for the album version.
6. The Doors were banned from performing on The Ed Sullivan Show after Morrison refused to change the lyrics of “Light My Fire” from “girl, we couldn’t get much higher” to “girl, we couldn’t get much better”.
7. The Doors were one of the first bands to use a keyboard as a lead instrument, and Manzarek’s style was influenced by jazz pianist McCoy Tyner.
8. Morrison was arrested for indecent exposure during a concert in Miami in March 1969, an incident that damaged the band’s reputation. He was later acquitted of the charges.
9. Morrison died of an apparent heart attack in Paris on July 3, 1971, at the age of 27. His death was not officially announced until four days later.
10. The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
The Doors were one of the most influential and controversial rock bands of the 1960s. Thanks to their unique sound and Morrison’s charismatic stage presence, they left a lasting impression on popular music.