The Beatles vs. The Doors: Odd Couples

The Doors—from left to right: John Densmore (drummer), Robby Krieger (guitarist), Ray Manzarek (keyboardist), and Jim Morrison (singer)—posed for Elektra Records publicity shots in New York City, New York in November 1966. Photo by Joel Brodsky.
The Doors—from left to right: John Densmore (drummer), Robby Krieger (guitarist), Ray Manzarek (keyboardist), and Jim Morrison (singer)—posed for Elektra Records publicity shots in New York City, New York in November 1966. Photo by Joel Brodsky.
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY JC MOSQUITO AND PUBLISHED BY SOMETHING ELSE! ON JUNE 5, 2016.

It’s a little considered historical fact, but the Beatles and the Doors – two of the biggest musical icons of the late 1960s – had almost nothing to do with each other, crossing paths almost incidentally. Once, Jim Morrison dropped in on the Beatles while they were working on “Happiness is a Warm Gun” at Abbey Road in London. That courtesy call was apparently returned by George Harrison while the Doors were working on The Soft Parade at Elektra Sound Recorders in Los Angeles. And maybe you could count the Jimi Hendrix bootleg where Morrison makes drunken noises into a microphone while Jimi starts a jam on “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

And that’s about it. But it’s also a bit odd: yes, the Beatles got an earlier start, but from the time the Doors released their first album in 1967 until both bands were essentially over a few years later, they were contemporaries, each group releasing six studio LPs and one compilation of hits. You’d think there would have been more interaction, or crossover, or competition – something.

The written record has come to characterize the Beatles as working class lads from Liverpool gifted with natural musical talent who worked hard to make it in an industry over which they would go on to have far-reaching influence. It’s also acknowledged that they just happened to luck out when it came to being in the right place at the right time.

The Doors, on the other hand, were artsy, educated and part of the post-war generation that seemed to their elders spoiled with an expectation of entitlement. Unlike the Beatles, who in their early days built up enough good will to later help them through the sorts of controversies that come with being in the public eye, the Doors seemed to go out of their way to provoke controversy. More often than not, Jim Morrison would not only flout authority, but would goad his own audience to the verge of riot as well.

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