Published in NY Times
By ROBERT WINDELER
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 19—
The Doors is one pop music group that may make it to the group that may make it to the end of this rock generation, which is to say it may last another fiver years.
An audience of 4,500 packed WInterland, and abandoned ice-skating rink in a run-down section of this city, last night and Friday night to find out why or to pay tribute.
The audience, a mixture Hashbury hippies, high school ad college students and a few middle-aged swingers, had been dancing the boogaloo where the ice used to be, to the more conventional contemporary sounds of the British group, the Procol Harum.
When the Doors (“there are things that are known and things that are unknown; in between are doors”) came on to do their thing, there was sudden silence and the crowd sat as if it were about to hear a chamber music concert.
And they did hear everything from Bach chord changes to a Brecht-Weill song and the Doors’ two Top 40 hits, “Light My Fire” and “People Are Strange.” But more important, they sat in rapt attention to every visual and vocal gyration of the Doors’ lead singer, Jim Morrison, as if in homage to some primitive ritual.
Quartet With 2 Albums and 2 Hits Prefers to Perform Before live Audiences
It is precisely this total attention that the Doors’ audiences seek and the Doors exploit. “For me it’s a religious involvement,” said Ray Manzarek, The groups organist. “For the public it’s a total submersion into our music.”
Consequently, public performances (they will be appearing at Hunter College in New York this Friday) are what the Doors do most, although they have all the requisites of a top pop group – including the two hits and two albums, the second of which had advance sales of a million before it was released.
On stage the 23-year-old Mr. Morrison, dressed in skin-tight black vinyl, mouths each lyric –sung or spoken—as if it were poetry, which it sometimes is, albeit punctuated by ear-piercing blasts by organ, guitar and drums. The other members of the group, Mr. Manzarek, 25, Robby Krieger, 21, and John Densmore, 22, are essentially instrumentalists.
The Doors write their own material, borrowing only occasionally. Lyrics are important, whether the song is social commentary (Got the World Locked Up Inside a Plastic Box; She’s a 20th-Century Fox”) or pure orgiasm (“Come On Baby, Light My Fire”).
The Doors came together two years ago in and near the film school at the University of California at Los Angeles. “We just wanted, like every other group, to do whatever we could within the framework of rock ‘n’ roll, to be just another group, Mr. Manzarek recalls.
It was when they took 30 hours to record “The End,” an 11 ½ minute sem-surreal vision of murder and death, for their first album that the Doors thought they might be on to something more. What made “The End” difficult aside from its great length for a pop song, was that it was a sung-and-spoken incipient drama which, although on record, had to be visualized.
Mr. Morrison says his group is heading full time in the direction of drama, “perhaps even using primitive masks and a dummy of a woman.”
Doors concerts would then take place in small theaters rather than large halls, which would affect The Doors’ take now standing at $10,000 to $12,000 a night against a percentage of the gross.