The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’ Hit Number One Classic Hits History

It was 50 years ago this week (starting on July 29th, 1967) that the Doors‘ breakthrough hit “Light My Fire” began its three week run at Number One, launching the Southern California band internationally and immortalizing the band’s iconic frontman, Jim Morrison. Although the 2:52 single version of the track, which was edited from the 7:02 album version, was created specifically for the AM market—many stations decided to spin the full version with keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger‘s sprawling solos. Upon its initial release, the Doors’ “Light My Fire” sold over a million copies and scored Elektra Records its first Number One single. When the group performed “Light My Fire” on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 17th, 1967, they were asked to change the line “girl we couldn’t get much higher.” The band agreed, but when they went onstage, Morrison went ahead and sang the line anyway. In commemoration of the anniversary, a new 45 r.p.m. single has been reissued with the song’s original B-side, “The Crystal Ship.”

The song, which ended the Association‘s month-long dominance of the Billboard Hot 100 with the soft pop of “Windy,” was ultimately knocked out of the top spot, by the Beatles‘ own classic “Summer Of Love” anthem, “All You Need Is Love.” Robby Krieger recalled how the band-credited “Light My Fire” came to be composed, telling Billboard’s Fred Bronson, “Ray had the idea for the opening, part, which was the real hook. Jim helped me out on some of the lyrics… and the beat was John (Densmore’s) idea.”

Although Jim Morrison’s in-concert antics have become the stuff of rock legend, many of his outbursts during the Doors’ recording sessions have been kept quiet over the years. Back in 2010, Ray Manzarek recalled the “Lizard King” losing his cool on August 21st, 1966 during the Doors’ session for “Light My Fire” at Hollywood’s Sunset Sound Recorders.

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