The Number Ones: The Doors’ “Light My Fire”

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY TOM BREIHAN AND PUBLISHED BY STEREOGUM ON OCTOBER 16, 2018.

In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.

The Doors – “Light My Fire”

They’ve been a favorite critical target for generations, but the Doors were, at the very least, an important band. They taught people. Prog and metal learned from the band’s self-important sprawl. Goth learned from Jim Morrison’s romantic hedonism and theatrical darkness. Punk learned from his negate-everything nihilism. And the band’s dank dread helped usher out the era of flowery psychedelia—one that had just taken root when the band first found its way to #1 on July 29, 1967.

From a certain perspective, though, the Doors’ greatest feat wasn’t in all the people they influenced or in the tides they changed. It was in how they became pop stars in the first place. This was not a foregone conclusion. Consider, for example, the Stooges, another Elektra Records hard-rock band with an experimental bent, a guttural fuck-everything point of view, an apocalyptic sense of doom, and a photogenic desperado out front. Both bands were out there on the road, with their brains squirming like toads, around the same time. Both were hugely influential. But the Doors were almost instantly huge, and the Stooges couldn’t get arrested.

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