One of the most important and influential bands of their era. Led by Jim Morrison (1943–1971), aka Mr. Mojo Risin', aka The Lizard King, with Ray Manzarek (1939–2013) on keyboard, Robby Krieger on guitar, and John Densmore on drums, The Doors became famous in The Sixties for their dark, theatrical, blues-influenced Psychedelic Rock and Morrison's surreal Word Salad Lyrics.
Principal members (Founding members in bold):
John Densmore - drums, percussion, vocals (1965–1973, 1978)
Robby Krieger - guitar, lead vocals, percussion, harmonica (1965–1973, 1978)
Ray Manzarek - keyboard, organ, keyboard bass, lead vocals, piano, marxophone, harpsichord, marimba, percussion, guitar (1965–1973, 1978, died 2013)
Jim Morrison - lead vocals, harmonica, percussion, synthesizer, maracas, tambourine, piano (1965–1971, died 1971)
Touring Members and Backing Musicians:
Francisco Aguabella - percussion (1971, died 2010)
Reinol Andino - percussion (1978)
Curtis Amy - saxophone (1968, died 2002)
Reinol Andino - conga (1968-1969)
Arthur Barrow - synthesizer (1978)
Chico Batera – percussion (1972)
Marc Benno - guitar (1970-1971)
George Bohanan - trombone (1968-1969)
Harvey Brooks - bass (1968-1969)
Jimmy Buchanan - flute (1969)
Jack Conrad – bass (1971-1973)
Chris Ethridge - bass (1972, died 2012)
Venetta Fields - vocals (1972)
Bob Glaub - bass (1978)
Bobbye Hall - percussion (1972)
Paul Harris - orchestral arrangements (1968-1969)
Bobby Ray Henson - guitar, vocals, percussion (1971-1973)
Clydie King - vocals (1972)
Larry Knechtel - bass (1966-1967, died 2009)
Charles Larkey - bass (1972)
Charles Lloyd - saxophone, flute (1972)
Doug Lubahn - bass (1967-1969)
Lonnie Mack - bass (1969)
Melissa MacKay - vocals (1972)
Kerry Magness - bass (1968)
Jesse McReynolds - mandolin (1968-1969)
Wolfgang Melz - bass (1971)
Ray Neapolitan - bass (1968-1969, 1971)
Emil Richards – marimba, kickshaws, whimwhams (1971)
Paul Rothchild - vocals (1966-1970, died 1995)
Willie Ruff - bass (1971)
Jerry Scheff - bass (1970-1971, 1978)
John Sebastian - harmonica (1969)
Leland Sklar - bass (1972)
Leroy Vinnegar - bass (1968, died 1999)
Champ Webb - horns (1968-1969)
1967 - The Doors
1967 - Strange Days
1968 - Waiting for the Sun
1969 - The Soft Parade
1970 - Morrison Hotel
1971 - L.A. Woman
1971 - Other Voices
1972 - Full Circle
1978 - An American Prayernote Morrison reading his poetry, with the surviving Doors providing musical accompaniment recorded years later
1970 - Absolutely Live
1983 - Alive, She Criednote Recorded in 1968, 1969 and 1970
1987 - Live At The Hollywood Bowlnote Recorded in 1968
1991 - In Concertnote Uses all the tracks from Absolutely Live and Alive, She Cried. Also uses one track from Live At The Hollywood Bowl and An American Prayer, with only The End being previously unreleased
1969 - Wishful Sinfulnote Otherwise available on their 1969 album The Soft Parade
Who Scared You as the B-Side
1970 - Love Her Madlynote Otherwise available on their 1971 album L.A. Woman
(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further as the B-Side
1972 - Get Up And Dancenote Otherwise available on their 1972 album Full Circle
Anti-Love Song: Subverted. Many of the songs written by Jim were true love songs to a girlfriend, his future wife Pamela Courson, with whom he had an extremely volatile relationship.
The Band Minus the Face: After Jim's death, the other three released two albums (Other Voices and Full Circle) with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger on lead vocals. Both albums were out of print for years, but are now available via Spotify, iTunes and other online sources.
Manzarek also sings lead on Close To You, an R&B number on the Absolutely Live album, and the B-Side to Love Her Madly, (You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further. Krieger also shared lead vocals with Morrison on the song Runnin' Blue from The Soft Parade.
Riders on the Storm (formerly The 21st Century Doors before the Morrison estate sued), a covers band fronted by Manzarek and Krieger, which has toured with numerous singers, most notably Ian Astbury of The Cult, since the early 2000s.
Manzarek died in 2013, which may or may not bring an end to further reunions.
Badass Beard: Jim Morrison had one toward the end of his life.
Bowdlerise: The lyric "She gets high!" in "Break On Through (to the Other Side)" was clipped on the original vinyl release, and all subsequent releases until the CD remaster in 2003.
A notorious incident occurred when the band appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1967. The Ed Sullivan people told the Doors to change the lyrics from "Girl, we couldn't get much higher" to "Girl, you really light my fire" days before the show. Neither Morrison nor Krieger wanted to change it, partially because they didn't want to be censored and partially because they thought it'd be funny to annoy the Ed Sullivan people. After the show, Jim claimed he'd forgotten to change the lyrics because he was nervous.
Canon Discontinuity: Other Voices and Full Circle have been out-of-print since the '70s and have never been released on CD. Both albums were critically well-received but commercial disasters, although this could qualify as They Changed It, Now It Sucks.
The Post-Morrison Doors are also notable for being the inspiration for the Fake Band, Pusswhip Gangbang from The Tim and Eric Show.
Descent Into Darkness Song: "The End" famously starts off as a ponderous musing about the nature of finality. However, eventually the imagery shifts into describing a masked killer grappling with the desire to kill, and then killing, his parents. Afterwards, the tempo builds to create a mesmerizing climax.
Which, incidentally, makes it the perfect song to be used to bookend Apocalypse Now—a descent into the evil that lurks in the human heart.
According to those present at the session, he recorded his vocal for "Five to One" when quite hammered indeed. This is clear from his sometimes slurred words—"You walk across the floowr widda ffflower 'n your hand"—and from his spoken-word ad-lib, during the coda, about going to the woods and getting "fucked up." (The original studio release faded out before this point for obvious reasons; the full coda, complete with profanity, was restored in later CD editions.)
Hard Rock: The Doors didn't invent the hard-rock genre, but they were unquestionably the heaviest band on the planet at the time of their debut in 1967.
Heavy Metal: Usually not cited as an influence, but "Break On Through" was probably the darkest and heaviest song in pop music during the 1960s; its climax includes an almost subliminal "doomy thunder" sound that Black Sabbath and Judas Priest would do on to make famous. And with "TRY TO SET THE NIGHT ON...FIRRRRE!" at the end of "Light My Fire", Jim may have birthed the Metal Scream.
Heavy Meta: "The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)", among others.
Literary Allusion Title: Taken from Aldous Huxley's essay extolling the virtues of psychedelics, The Doors of Perception, whose title itself is a reference to William Blake's poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite."
Live Album: Several. Absolutely Live (1970) was the first, and the only one released during Jim Morrison's lifetime.
The Man Behind the Curtain: The principal lineup of the Doors did not include a bass player. The group used various session musicians on their studio albums, while in live shows they compensated for the lack of a bassist by having Ray Manzarek play piano bass with his left hand while playing the keyboard parts with his right.
Metal Scream: Jim lets a few out in "The Changeling." It sounds even more awesome in the New Stereo Mix on The Very Best of the Doors.
1 - "The Crystal Ship", "You're Lost, Little Girl", "Wishful Sinful"
2 - "Tell All the People", "Riders on the Storm"
3 - "Light My Fire", "Strange Days", "Touch Me"
4 - "Break On Through (To the Other Side)", "Soul Kitchen", "Peace Frog"
5 - "The End", "When the Music's Over", "Waiting for the Sun" (at least the loud parts)
6 - "Five to One"
Murder Ballad: "The killer awoke before dawn" section of "The End", as well as "Riders on the Storm". An American Prayer includes a piece called "The Hitchhiker", which retells "Riders" from the murderer's perspective.
Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: The musicians in the band. Ray Manzarek was a classically-trained pianist before he switched to organ; Robby Krieger started out as a flamenco guitarist; John Densmore was a jazz drummer who had only just discovered the blues.
Waiting for the Sun and The Soft Parade were considerably more pop-friendly than the group's early work - the former still had some hard-edged tunes like "Five to One" and "The Unknown Soldier", while the latter featured Lighter and Softer lyrics and extensive brass and string overdubs. The group returned to their hard blues-rock sound for Morrison Hotel.
Other Voices, the 1971 post-Morrison album, marked a calculated shift in the band's temperament. It mostly embraces a carefree, even humorous hippie image that the brooding Jim had always resisted. The Lighter and Softer approach didn't take, and within a year the band broke up for good.
The studio albums often used session bassists, though. Well-known guitarist Lonnie Mack played bass on at least two tracks on Morrison Hotel ("Roadhouse Blues" and "Maggie M'Gill"), although some critics believe he played on other tracks as well.
While Manzarek played keyboard bass during live performances, the band commonly enlisted session musicians to play actual bass on their albums; they didn't do this with most of the tracks on their debut album, and Ray wasn't satisfied with the sound that resulted.
Premature Encapsulation: Their third album was titled Waiting for the Sun, but the song by that name wasn't released until two albums later, on Morrison Hotel.
Progressive Rock: Their classical/baroque-influenced arrangements, Ray Manzarek's keyboard leads, and some lyrics went a long way towards influencing the genre's development.
Protest Song: "Five to One", "The Unknown Soldier" and "Dead Cats, Dead Rats".
Many of their other songs that aren't primarily protest songs also have significant elements of protest within them; perhaps the most notable example is the "What have we done to the earth?" section in "When the Music's Over".
1969's The Soft Parade, which sounded totally different from anything the band had done before - or, for that matter, anything any band was doing at the time. "Tell All the People" is surprisingly optimistic and religious in outlook, while "Touch Me" features an intense saxophone solo by session musician Curtis Amy (John Densmore's latent jazz influences coming to the forefront at last). "Runnin' Blues" incorporates a Scotch-Irish country fiddle; the title track has a calypso percussionist.
Also "You Make Me Real" from Morrison Hotel, which is a surprisingly poppy, upbeat song with a "rink-a-lee-tink-a-bink" piano. Jerry Lee Lewis probably loved it.