How we made the Doors' Hello, I Love You

Photograph: Araldo Di Crollalanza/REX/Shutterstock
Photograph: Araldo Di Crollalanza/REX/Shutterstock

John Densmore, drummer

Jim Morrison wrote the words for Hello, I Love You when we were still in a band called Rick & the Ravens. “Sidewalk crouches at her feet / Like a dog that begs for something sweet.” That’s a crazy great lyric! He couldn’t play an instrument but he’d come up with melodies in order to remember his incredible words. We’d been walking around the boardwalk of Venice, one of the few diverse areas in LA in the 60s, when Jim saw an African American girl. She was the “dusky jewel” who inspired the song.

We recorded a raw demo with Ray Manzarek on keyboards and his two brothers playing guitars. But the brothers were worried about Jim. He was crazy and had never sung before. He sounded timid and hid in a corner in the garage. I thought: “This is not the next Mick Jagger.” But he found his own unique way, writhing around with the mic cord like a snake. I’m not into guys, but I noticed he looked like Michelangelo’s David. He wrote many of his early lyrics while living on a rooftop. We’d have breakfast and he’d say: “I hear a concert in my head.” And I’d say: “Wow, OK!”

When Ray’s brothers quit, I invited Robby Krieger to rehearsals. He played bottleneck guitar and the next thing I knew we’d become the Doors. However, Hello, I Love You wasn’t recorded until our third album, Waiting for the Sun, because we were struggling with the arrangement. Finally Paul Rothchild, our producer, demanded we finish it and Robby gave me an idea for the drums. “Why don’t you play like Ginger Baker on Sunshine of Your Love?” he said. “Play the tom-toms on the offbeat.” I did that in the chorus and it worked.

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Retrieved on 16 December 2018 from

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