Top Ten Failed Jim Morrison Replacements

When the Cult performed recently at Revolution, the focus should have been on their heavy, head-rattling rock 'n' roll. But I can't get the image out of my head of frontman Ian Astbury's failed attempt to emulate Jim Morrison as the lead singer of the Doors in the 21st Century.

Back in 2003, amid lawsuits and controversy, original Doors members Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger toured the country with Astbury singing the lyrics. Astbury proved -- as it's been proven countless times -- just having the wavy dark hair isn't enough to capture the Dionysian spirit of Mr. Mojo Risin. Here are ten singers, including Astbury, who wanted but failed to replace Jim Morrison.

10. Michael A. Nickles

In the 1994 movie Wayne's World 2, Jim Morrison is the spirit guide that inspires Wayne to put on a rock festival. It was intended to be a satire of Oliver Stone's The Doors movie, but the actor playing Morrison seems to be channeling Johnny Depp instead. At least he doesn't try singing.

9. Ian Astbury

I really like the Cult, but it pains me to say Astbury's Jim Morrison impersonation is uncomfortably rough to sit through. Listening to his rendition of "L.A. Woman," I can understand why original Doors drummer John Densmore sued to get them to stop, but all his lawsuit did was get them to add "of the 21st Century" to their name.

8. Scott Weiland

In 2001, the former Stone Temple Pilots singer performed on a VH1 special with the surviving members of the Doors. Weiland gets credit for not to trying to fake the Jim Morrison hair, but his voice lacks the oomph necessary in singing "Break on Through" and "Five to One."

7. Rob Krieger and Ray Manzarek

Long forgotten, but after Jim Morrison died in Paris, the Doors continued to record and put out three more albums. Guitarist Krieger and keyboardist Manzarek tried their damnedest to replace Morrison with mixed results.

6. Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic

During many Nirvana concerts, Cobain would delve into a quite convincing channeling of a fit version of Jim Morrison singing "The End" only to have bassist Krist Novoselic come in with a drunk imitation of Jim.

5. Eddie Vedder

When the Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, they played a set of "Roadhouse Blues" and "Light My Fire." Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, did a credible job, but he couldn't hold back the wide smile showing he couldn't believe he was jamming with his heroes. Humility might be an endearing quality in most cases, but not when it involves replacing Jim Morrison.

4. Iggy Pop

The former Mr. Osterberg has always been adamant about how attending a Doors show at the University of Michigan influenced his entire career and life. No one captures the reckless stage persona of Morrison like Iggy Pop, even if he does seem to be taking everything far less seriously than Morrison ever did, but maybe that's why Iggy Pop is still alive to sing "Back Door Man" and Morrison isn't.

3. Ben Ottewell

The lead singer of Britpop act Gomez looks more like he's impersonating Bill Gates than Morrison, but, man, that voice! In Gomez's rendition of "Soul Kitchen," Ottewell sounds like a man who went out to the desert to write poetry but a couple of whiskey bottles got in his way.

2. Jimmy Fallon

I'm generally not a fan of the hipster late-night television host, but his spot-on impersonation of another famous Jim singing the Reading Rainbow song is even more rocking than it is funny.

1. Val Kilmer

He's been in some of the worst movies known to man (The Island of Dr. Morreau, anyone?), but in Oliver Stone's biopic about the Doors, Kilmer absolutely nailed it. The shaggy hair looks weird on him, but he does most of the singing throughout the movie, and the beach scene where he sings "Moonlight Drive" inspired a generation to imitate the Doors. Finally, one dude who nailed it.

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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland