After the death of the Doors' frontman, Jim Morrison, in a Paris bathtub in 1971, it was only natural that the three remaining members — late keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robbie Krieger, and drummer John Densmore — would attempt to carry on. It was also apparent that it would be futile without Morrison at the fore.
Yet despite Morrison's fury at the fact that his colleagues had considered selling rights to their song "Light My Fire" to a car company in 1968, more than three decades later, Krieger and Manzarek leaped at the chance to trade their song "Break on Through" to Cadillac for $15 million. But when the opportunity came to regroup for a tour under the thinly veiled moniker "The Doors of the 21st Century," enough was enough for Densmore.
Determined to preserve the band's legacy in a way he believed Morrison would have wanted, he and the singer's aging parents took his former colleagues to court in 2004. Densmore documented his struggles in his book Doors Unhinged. He's about to begin a series of book readings that will bring him to Fort Lauderdale's Radio-Active Records.
John Densmore In-store book signing. 7 p.m. Friday, September 5, at Radio-Active Records, 845 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Admission is the purchase of Doors Unhinged book. Call 954-762-9488, or visit facebook.com/RadioActiveRecords.
New Times: This book of yours could be a major motion picture. It's got the drama, the suspense, the intrigue...
John Densmore: Yeah! That's what I want to hear! Why don't you become a movie producer and make it happen? I've heard that comment a lot. There's only two Doors left, so Robbie would have to be comfortable with it.
Have you and he reconciled? Any hard feelings?
Before the book was published, I sent the last chapter to Robbie and Ray with a note saying, "This will probably be a hard pill to swallow, but I wanted to be sure you got this last chapter where I say I love you guys." How could I not? We created magic in a garage, and we're musical brothers forever.
Our relationship had become quite strained with this mess. And then when I heard Ray had become quite sick, I called him, and I was very thankful he picked up. I didn't know at the time it would be our closing phone call, but it was. And we had it. Nothing specific was discussed at the time about the struggle. It was about his struggle with cancer.
After he passed, I said to Robbie, "Let's play together and do a tribute to Ray and a benefit to raise funds for cancer research." So we're trying to get this together, hopefully next spring.
Your struggle to preserve the Doors legacy demonstrates a certain idealism and principles that are very much in keeping with the spirit of the '60s.
Yes, I guess so. That's good. Some music should be priceless. What the hell. I spoke to Tavis Smiley, and he said, "You either got a lot of integrity or you're crazy turning down $15 million."
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Was there ever a point where you had your doubts about carrying on, where you thought that maybe it would be easier just to take the money?
Well, sure. There was always the Robin Hood idea where you take the money and give it to causes you believe in. Then there's, "Well, OK, do that, and then you're in the corporate scene." We all have nice houses and cars, so it's not that. Maybe Jim's ghost will haunt me forever.
Maybe someone will make that major motion picture and you'll be rewarded in another way.
It doesn't have to be financial. Spiritual. Mystical. That will do.