The Doors Drummer John Densmore On Late Greats Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

One of the seminal groups of the sixties was The Doors, fronted by Jim Morrison and inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Morrison, of course, passed in 1971, and keyboards/bassist Ray Manzarek died in 2013. Of the two surviving members - guitarist Robby Krieger, 69, and drummer John Densmore, 70 - I caught up with the latter for some straight talk about the band and its legacy.

Densmore has written two critically acclaimed books in recent years, “The Doors, Unhinged” (2013) and “Riders On The Storm: My Life With Jim Morrison And The Doors” (2009). In this first installment of a multi-part interview series, Densmore gives his impressions of both Morrison and Manzarek – plus what it was like to experience live Doors concerts from the comfort of his drum perch.

John Densmore: A chameleon. I wrote two books about this. In the first, Riders On The Storm, I took 300 pages to sort what Jim was about. Maybe the song Changeling describes him best: “See me change/I’m the air you breathe.” He was a shy college kid when I met him, really handsome. Then he became more sophisticated. Then he became a giant icon. Then he got sour on it, gained weight and grew a beard for the LA Woman sessions. Then he went to Paris to be Hemingway. The question: If Jim were still around now, would he be clean and sober, I used to answer, 'No, he was a kamikaze drunk.' But I’ve changed my mind. [Eric] Clapton, Jorma [Kaukonen] and Jack [Casady] are fine now – even Eminem. He's a really angry and creative guy – what’s his CD called, “Recovery"? So yeah, it’s a different time. Jim could have done it, too.

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Retrieved on 14 December 2018 from

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