April 18, 2013

From the Editor: The Doors, the Buick, and the book

Drummer John Densmore comes to Maine to promote his book, 'The Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison's Legacy Goes on Trial'.

By ROD HARMON Deputy Managing Editor

(Continued from page 1)

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The Doors (John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek) in the late ’60s.

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The limited edition Doors single for Record Store Day.

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I'm surprised some die-hards had that reaction. I would have thought it would have been the reverse -- I can imagine it would be like Paul and Ringo going out as The Beatles without John and George.

Yeah, that would be weird. But y'know, if Ray and Robby are coming to your hometown, and they're great musicians, and they're playing Doors songs -- "Oh, I want to see it! That's so great!" And it is great. But it's not The Doors. So that's the part that they've got to remember.

Why did you decide to put it all down in a book?

To set the record straight of what I was doing, and how hard it was, and maybe -- oh, this is kind of self-centered, I don't know -- but maybe it's a metaphor for other issues for people, personal and national, or whatever. Y'know, the undercurrent of this book is currency, isn't it? Greed. And the word "currency" comes from the word "current," so therefore, currency is supposed to flow. And these corporate beavers are damming up the flow with hoarding.

Money's like -- I'm soapboxing now -- money's like fertilizer: When spread around, things grow; when hoarded, it stinks. It may be metaphoric for our whole country. That's kind of pompous, but whatever. The subject of money is so volatile, I know I'm going to stir up some people's anger. (Laughs.) But it's good to talk about!

You mention in your book that The Doors had a unique relationship -- and it was actually Morrison's idea -- that you all share everything as equal partners, including the songwriting royalties, and if any one member disagreed on something, it wouldn't happen. At what point did Ray either lose sight of that or try to disavow that agreement?

Oh. Boy, you're pinpointing trouble. (Laughs.) I mean, y'know all along, Ray has, y'know, enjoyed, as we all have, the financial success of the band. At what point did he -- ooo, boy, that's -- oh! You've got me on the spot here, Rod!

Well, does it date back to the Buick incident? Was it that early? Or was it after Jim died, or was it just recently?

Well I suppose, yeah, Buick is a good flashpoint, because Jim's reaction was so funny and ballistic -- "Oh, yeah, let's do it! I'll smash a Buick on television with a sledgehammer! Great!" And yeah, Ray was -- well, we were all young, and I suppose that money now, in today's world, would have been millions of dollars, and was tempting. It was tempting. But I can't seem to get Jim's reaction out of my mind. Yeah, I'd say the Buick incident was sort of the beginning of troubles about art vs. economics.

When you refer to Robby in the book, there's a sense of sadness for a lost friend. When you refer to Ray, there's a sense of bitterness, of resentment. You even refer to him as your "nemesis" at times. There's this sense that Ray was, more so than Robby, the one pushing for the use of The Doors name and logo, and was the driving force behind the counter-lawsuit against you. Would you agree with that?

I agree with that, but I did send Ray and Robby the last chapter of the book just recently, and certainly (will send) the whole book very soon, when it's finished printing. I wanted to make sure they got to that, and I sent a note saying, "Listen -- it's probably going to be a hard pill to swallow, but please read this last chapter where I say, 'My God, how can I not love you guys? We created this magic in a garage that got so much bigger than all of us, and you will always be my musical brothers.' So on a creative level, I'm trying to honor that and maybe throw an olive branch out.

(Continued on page 3)

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