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The Doors burned bright - and were done

By ROBERT FARLEY
Published September 25, 2005


Two UCLA film students put their talents together in 1965 - Ray Manzarek and his keyboards, Jim Morrison and his poetry - and started the band that became the Doors. The other members were jazz drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger.

They derived the name of the group from the poetry of William Blake ("If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite.") and from Aldous Huxley's book about psychedelic drugs, The Doors of Perception.

The group's music gets lumped with other psychedelic rock of the '60s, but it defies simple description, influenced by flamenco, Indian, blues and classical music.

Their debut album, released in January 1967, included Light My Fire, Break on Through and The End.

When they performed live on The Ed Sullivan Show, CBS censors demanded that the band change the lyrics in Light My Fire from "Girl we couldn't get much higher" to "Girl we couldn't get much better." Morrison sang the original line instead, much to Sullivan's chagrin.

The third album, Waiting for the Sun (1968), was their first No. 1 record and included their second No. 1 single, Hello, I Love You.

Morrison nicknamed himself Mr. Mojo Risin' - an anagram of his name - and is said to have referred often to the overdose deaths of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix and predicted he would be No. 3.

On July 3, 1971, Pamela Courson reported that she found him dead in the bathtub of their apartment in Paris. The cause of death was listed as heart attack; drugs were suspected.

There was no autopsy. The coffin was sealed before his family or the American Embassy were notified. It was not until six days later that the Doors' manager announced Morrison's death to the world.

Conspiracy theorists had a field day. A popular theory was that to escape the demands of celebrity, Morrison faked his death and vanished.

The band recorded six studio albums before Morrison's death. The remaining members released two more albums and split up in 1973.

The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.