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Music / The Doors

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The Doors in 1966. From left to right: Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore

"He went into the room where his sister lived, and... Then he
Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
He walked on down the hall, and
And he came to a door... And he looked inside
'Father?' 'Yes, son?' 'I want to kill you.
— "The End" - The Doors

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 '60s for their dark, theatrical, blues-influenced Psychedelic Rock and Morrison's surreal Word Salad Lyrics.

Val Kilmer played Morrison in the 1991 biographical film directed by Oliver Stone.


Principal members (Founding members in bold):

  • John Densmore - drums, percussion, vocals (1965–73, 1978)
  • Robby Krieger - guitar, lead vocals, percussion, harmonica (1965–73, 1978)
  • Ray Manzarek - keyboard, organ, keyboard bass, lead vocals, piano, marxophone, harpsichord, marimba, percussion, guitar (1965–73, 1978, died 2013)
  • Jim Morrison - lead vocals, harmonica, percussion, synthesizer, maracas, tambourine, piano (1965–71, died 1971)


Studio Discography:

  • 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 Prayer note 

Live Discography:

  • 1970 - Absolutely Live
  • 1983 - Alive, She Cried note 
  • 1987 - Live at the Hollywood Bowl note 
  • 1991 - In Concert note 

Non-album singles:

  • 1969 - "Wishful Sinful" note  / "Who Scared You"
  • 1970 - "Love Her Madly" note  / "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further"
  • 1972 - "Get Up and Dance" note  / "Tree Trunk"


  • Acquitted Too Late: Non-death penalty version: In December 2010, the state of Florida pardoned Morrison for the infamous "lewd and lascivious conduct" charge he earned during a 1969 concert, the details of which are sketchy and vary wildly depending on which of the witnesses you ask.
  • 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. Pamela herself was, according to rumour, Cute and Psycho and carried a big knife and a purse full of Thorazine.
  • The Band Minus the Face/Step Up to the Microphone: 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.
    • If Jim was too incapacitated to sing on a given night, Ray and/or Robby would handle vocals. Ray can be seen singing "Hello I Love You" in their concert film, The Doors Are Open.
    • 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 2000's.
      • Manzarek died in 2013, which may or may not bring an end to further reunions.
    • The Doors appeared on VH 1 Storytellers in 2000, with different singers handling vocals for different songs, including Patrick Monahan of Train, Ian Astbury of The Cult (who also toured with the band, as mentioned above), Travis Meeks of Days Of The New, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, and Scott Stapp of Creed.
  • Badass Baritone: Jim in spades. He had the Badass attitude expected for a Sixties rock frontman, and a surprisingly deep, silky voice for someone as young and pretty as he was.
  • Badass Beard: Jim Morrison had one toward the end of his life.
  • Bawdy Song: Oh, yes!
  • Beard of Sorrow: Possibly why Morrison grew one after the Florida incident.
  • Biopic: The Doors directed by Oliver Stone.
  • Bowdlerize: 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.
  • The Cameo: In the film, Paul Rothchild appears as the man in the club who tells the band they're gonna make a million dollars, and Patricia Kennealy-Morrison appears as the priestess who marries Jim and Patricia.
  • Careful with That Axe: Possible Trope Makers.
    • Never more effective than in "Celebration of the Lizard": Immediately after the "Little Game" sequence, Jim lets out a scream so shrill that he sounds like a woman!
  • Circus of Fear: The vaguely destitute circus performers seen on the cover of Strange Days.
    • Also, that's how some folks describe the sounds that come from Manzarek's organ.
  • Compilation Re-release: There have been several box sets collecting all their studio albums up to L.A. Woman released.
  • Concept Album: An American Prayer; Jim recorded a bunch of his poetry before he died, then several years later, the other Doors set it to music.
  • Crazy Awesome: Jim, yet again.
  • Cultural Rebel: Arguably Manzarek, who was about 30 when the band hit it big and had come of age in The '50s.
  • 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.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: From "Peace Frog": "Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile, eggshell mind".
  • Drunken Song: Morrison's drinking habit was legendary.
    • 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.)
  • Echoing Acoustics
  • Epic Rocking: "The End", "When the Music's Over", "Celebration of the Lizard", "Light My Fire", "The Soft Parade", "L.A. Woman", "Riders on the Storm".
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "I Looked at You".
  • Follow the Leader: If you've heard a rock band with "dark" music from the last forty years or so, there's around a 75% chance that they were influenced by the Doors.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Jim was the Apathetic, Ray was the Realist, John is the Cynic and Robby is the Optimist.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble
    • Jim (Melancholic) - detached, rebellious, neurotic and reckless.
    • Ray (Sanguine) - sociable, carefree, diplomatic and idealistic.
    • John (Choleric) - confident, observant, cynical and anxious.
    • Robby (Phlegmatic) - easy-going, passive-aggressive, stubborn and quiet.
  • Goth Rock: While not outright examples of the genre, the Doors were one of the two biggest influences on it, alongside Joy Division (whose lead singer happened to be a fan of Jim Morrison, coincidentally enough).
  • Gratuitous Panning
  • Greatest Hits Album: Several through the years.
  • Hard Rock: The Doors didn't invent the hard rock genre, but they were arguably the heaviest band out there at the time of their debut in 1967.
  • Heavy Metal: Usually not cited as an influence, but "Break On Through (To the Other Side)" was probably the darkest and heaviest song in pop music during the 1960's; its climax includes an almost subliminal "doomy thunder" sound that Black Sabbath and Judas Priest would 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.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: It's practically impossible to imagine Jim without his leather pants.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Jim Morrison's longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson.
  • Improv: A lot of their live show was improvised.
  • Intercourse with You: While maybe not the Trope Makers, definitely the Trope Codifier.
  • Large Ham: Morrison — present throughout but increasingly so from Waiting for the Sun onwards.
  • Last Note Hilarity: Jim Morrison was the lone holdout from The Doors on an offer by Buick to license "Light My Fire" for a car ad. He would ridicule the rest of the band members for this by singing "Stron-ger-Than-Dirt!" over the last four brass notes of the album version of "Touch Me" from The Soft Parade, a reference to cleaner company Ajax's slogan.note 
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In "L'America":
    Come on people, don't ya look so down
    You know the rain man's comin' ta town
    Change the weather, change your luck
    And then he'll teach ya how to... find yourself
  • 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.
  • Looks Like Jesus: Morrison when he had a beard.
  • Love at First Sight: "Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name?"
  • Lyrical Dissonance
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: The principal line-up 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.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jim on the cover of their greatest hits album.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: While generally hovering between 4 and 6, for their time, they would be a solid 10 or 11.
    • 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.
  • New Sound Album:
    • 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.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Probably why they didn't even have one. Well, apart from Ray.
    • 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.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Everything after Jim's death!
  • Oedipus Complex: Again, "The End".
  • Posthumous Collaboration: An American Prayer.
  • 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 Instrumentation: "Wild Child" starts with guitar, then drums, then bass, then keyboard, then finally Jim keys in.
  • 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".
  • Psychedelic Rock
  • Punk Rock: Because of characteristics such as the darkness of their music and Morrison's frequent use of the Metal Scream they are often considered a Protopunk band.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: "My Wild Love".
  • Scare Chord: "I am the Lizard King. I can do anything." BLAAAM!
    • On a related note, "WAKE UP!"
      • Also, during the performance of the end during the Hollywood Bowl Concert KILLL!!!
  • Scatting: Jim Morrison imitates a harmonica with his voice in "Cars Hiss by My Window."
  • Serial Killer: "Riders on the Storm."
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Runnin' Blues" is clearly a tribute to Otis Redding.
    • "The Spy" references the title of a novel by Anaïs Nin, A Spy in the House of Love.
  • Significant Anagram: "Mr. Mojo Risin'" = Jim Morrison (L.A. Woman).
  • Something Blues: "Roadhouse Blues" and "Shaman's Blues."
  • Something Completely Different:
    • 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.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "The killer awoke before dawn..." Also "Horse Latitudes," "Celebration of the Lizard," and An American Prayer. Morrison was fond of this in live performance as well. The band members have said that sometimes they dreaded what Morrison was going to say.
  • Spoofed with Their Own Words: The rant at the start of the song "The Soft Parade" has Morrison speaking thusly:
    When I was back there in seminary school
    There was a person there
    Who put forth the proposition
    That you can petition the Lord with prayer
    Petition the Lord with prayer
    Petition the Lord with prayer
    • The line "Petition the Lord with prayer" sounds like a mockery of that proposition, the way it was said.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: The "L'America" example under Last-Second Word Swap above.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "The Crystal Ship," "Yes, The River Knows," "Wishful Sinful," "You're Lost, Little Girl," "I Can't See Your Face in My Mind," and several others.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: As mentioned under Acquitted Too Late above, accounts of just what happened at the infamous March 1, 1969, live show at which Morrison was arrested vary widely.
  • Vocal Evolution: Heavy smoking and drinking took a toll on Morrison's voice towards the end. His voice is noticeably rougher on the L.A. Woman album.
  • Wild Child: Trope Namers.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "The Soft Parade," among others.
  • Yarling: Morrison is the arguable Ur-Example.

Alternative Title(s): Jim Morrison


Example of: