Fan Submissions Sample 4

Submitted By: John Doe
Date: 05/24/1968 | Venue: The Coliseum | City: Los Angeles, CA

The first time I read Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman’s Jim Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive back when it was published in 1980, I came across the following sentence, “The concerts in Milwaukee and Columbus on the 1st and 2nd (of November) were ordinary.” I was at the concert in Columbus on November 2nd. After police stopped the show during the set-ending “Light My Fire” and ordered the crowd to disperse, the audience refused to leave the auditorium for 45 minutes and subsequently began ripping up & setting fire to the seats in Veteran’s Memorial. I’m not sure what constituted an ‘ordinary’ show to Sugerman in sunny Los Angeles, but in Columbus, Ohio, this was not your everyday rock & roll show.

The Doors entire live show teetered on the brink of disaster at almost any and every given moment. Songs got shortened, songs got wildly elongated; not only did instrumental solos by Ray Manzarek on organ and Robbie Krieger on guitar get improvised, Jim Morrison improvised entire verses & choruses. I’m not sure there were more than four or five songs where Morrison sang the original lyrics. And through it all John Densmore sat above, pounding out the beat, keeping it all together.

I’m not sure how to convey to you today in 2013 how simultaneously shambolic and truly transcendent the Doors show was at every turn. Forget setlists: Densmore would hop off the drum riser and the band would huddle-up by Manzarek’s keyboards every three or four songs to hash out (no pun intended) what they were going to play next. And these weren’t polite NFL huddles where the quarterback barks out plays and everybody snaps into formation, this was four guys talking, yelling & gesticulating until the next part of the set took some kind of shape.

Anything could happen. Jim Morrison would sit down on the edge of the stage and start reciting poetry, sometimes with the mic, sometimes just yelling through his hands. And then the band would fall in behind him and improvise a tune like they’d rehearsed it dozens of times. Other times they’d just sit out and watch him recite for as long as the words & muse moved him. Morrison would dance around like a shaman during the solos, or just simply walk off into the wings and leave the stage to the three instrumentalists. Ray Manzarek did at least two lead vocals that I can remember.