The Doors were one of the most critically-acclaimed rock acts of the 1960s. Part of the American counterculture that would impact the history of music for the many decades to come, the band was originally formed in the summer of 1965 in Los Angeles, California by frontman Jim Douglas Morrison alongside keyboardist Ray Daniel Manzarek. In addition to Morrison and Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer/percussionist John Densmore joined the band.
The band actually started out as ‘Rick & The Ravens’ as early as 1961, revolving around a surf rock sound. The continued to perform under this moniker up until 1964, and were signed under Aura Records. They only recorded three singles and a demo acetate consisting of six songs which were subsequently re-recorded on later Doors albums. Before 1964, the band’s line-up changed but Morrison, Manzarek, and Densmore had been pivotal members all the way. It was later in 1965 that Krieger had joined them and the rest is history.
Along the passing of time, the Californian-based group managed to hit both the U.S. charts and the worldwide ones with successful singles such as ‘Light My Fire’ (1967), ‘The End’ (1967), ‘Hello, I Love You’ (1968), or ‘L.A. Woman’ (1971), all of them peaking at number 1.
In origin, the band’s name is a reference to one of Aldous Huxley’s novels entitled ‘The Doors of Perception’, the title of which was an allusion to the following William Blake quotation:
‘If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.’
The Doors’ first studio album which was released back in 1967 bore the band’s very name, selling in more than 10 million copies internationally. It was also certified triple platinum in the United States the same year and, subsequently, double gold thirty years later.
Following the mainstream success of their first full-length record, the band released ‘Waiting for the Sun’ in 1968, an LP that produced 3 hit singles in the U.S., including the well-known songs ‘Hello, I Love You’ and ‘Love Street’. During the very same year, The Doors started the recording sessions for what would have soon enough turned into their fourth studio album, more specifically ‘The Soft Parade’.
By the end of 1970, The Doors were already widely regarded as one of the greatest American rock bands of their time. The Doors were also the first American band to accumulate eight consecutive R.I.A.A. certified gold LPs. Nevertheless, in 1971, after a rough quarrel between the band members, Morrison temporarily left the band for a self-imposed exile to Paris, France, which lasted for the remainder of his life. He died at the age of 27 on July 3, 1971, being found by his girlfriend Pamela Courson, lying inertly in the bathtub of their apartment.
The precise cause of his death still remains an enigma although, according to what his girlfriend previously stated, it seems that he died out of an overdose of heroine mixed with some heavy bottles of whisky, resulting as such in a fatal heartache.
Morrison was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France, next to Oscar Wilde. After Morrison’s timely death at the age of 27, the three surviving band members of The Doors continued performing until 1973, producing and releasing two more studio recordings titled ‘Full Circle’ and ‘Other Voices’ which were not comparable in sales to the pre-Morrison releases but still managed to record a noteworthy presence on the charts. In 1973, the three surviving members of The Doors officially disbanded. However, in 1978, ‘An American Prayer’ was released with their help, a mostly spoken-word studio album which features previously unreleased recorded poetry of Morrison from 1969.
Keyboardist Ray Manzarek went on to a modestly successful solo career and also got involved in Nite City, another poetry-based rock and roll project together with a Chicago-based poet. Manzarek and Krieger would also form the duo Manzarek-Krieger and also start up the Doors of the 21st century, which, very much unfortunately, caused friction and a regretful lawsuit with fellow former bandmate John Densmore.