14 Reasons To Love The Doors’ John Densmore

The original four-piece lineup of the Doors was together for around six years, from its formation in mid-1965 until the death of frontman Jim Morrison in July 1971 at age twenty-seven. Over that span, the band—Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore—released six studio albums and nurtured the impressive ability to write both the most confectionary pop songs and far darker, more complex bits of psychedelic art rock, ping-ponging between the two on each recording. The quartet, which also put out Absolutely Live (1970) and Morrison’s posthumously released spoken-word collection, An American Prayer (1978), remains to this day one of the bestselling and most popular classic rock groups.

Working without a regular bass-playing foil—the Doors often recorded with a bassist but hardly ever gigged with one—Densmore favored a lean, crisp, clear style in feel-good rhythmic explorations that, like the band’s songs, gathered together ideas from blues, pop, jazz, classical, and Latin, Eastern, and African music. There are many reasons to love this slyly inventive, often underrated drummer. Here are just a few.


From the haunting opening cymbal clangs it’s clear this is going to be a deep affair, and sure enough the nearly twelveminute opus plays out as one of the band’s most emotional—and, with its Oedipal lyrics, most confrontational—songs. The ever-sensitive Densmore rides the Morrison wave with gigantic tom rolls and exploding canyon-echo fills (2:09, 7:42). He reacts to Morrison’s narrative as if they’re of one mind, building to a froth when Jim summons the shaman at the climax (8:47–10:20). The drummer then returns for a beautiful hushed coda.

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Retrieved on 14 December 2018 from https://www.moderndrummer.com/article/january-2010-14-reasons-love-doors-john-densmore/

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