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The Doors: Light my Fire

Arguably one of the most influential bands of the 1960s, The Doors have left their mark on the world of music. Famed for dark, poetic lyrics accompanied by hypnotising instrumentals, this American band has earned an army of followers all over the world and bagged countless accolades.

The Doors Band

© Elektra Records-Joel Brodsky

 

Origins

UCLA film students Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek put the wheels in motion for the formation of The Doors, when they bumped into each other on a Los Angeles beach in 1965. With Jim's poetic style of writing earning him the spot of vocalist, and Ray on keyboards, the duo teamed up with drummer John Densmore and Robby Krieger on guitar.

Inspiration for the band's name came from a book by Aldous Huxley, entitled The Doors of Perception.

Success came quickly to The Doors. They signed to Elektra Records and released their first self-titled album in 1967, hitting the number two spot on the US Billboard 200. Further album releases soon followed, including Strange Days in 1967 and LA Woman in 1971, with the band making eight albums over a five-year period.

 

Top hits

During their career, The Doors released over 20 singles, many of them earning chart-topping positions.

Although their first single release, Break On Through (To the Other Side) wasn't a major hit, their second release, Light My Fire, made up for it. Released in 1967 from the band's debut album, Light My Fire stayed at number one on the US charts for three weeks and peaked at number seven in the UK. Largely written by Robby Krieger, the song is one of the band's biggest-selling singles and has been frequently covered by artists such as Nancy Sinatra, Shirley Bassey and Will Young.

Other big hits by the group include the 1968 releases, Hello I love You and Touch Me from the album, Waiting for the Sun, as well as Riders on the Storm in 1971, from album LA Woman. The most controversial song by the group, The End, featured on the film Apocalypse Now, during a murderous scene. The band would often close performances with this track.

 

Success

Although many iconic bands ruled the 1960s era, few emulated The Doors. They were known for their distinctive sound, with an electronic organ vibe, and Jim's deep, dark tones. The band was also highly controversial and unpredictable during performances, but this only made them more popular with audiences. By 1972, the band had sold almost eight million singles and four million albums in the USA alone.

The Doors became the first American band to gain eight consecutive gold LPs. During their career, they have sold over 100 million records globally. As well as being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Doors have been ranked as one of the successful groups of all time.

 

Life after Jim

Things changed for The Doors when Jim died in Paris, in 1971, purportedly from a drugs overdose. Although the three band members carried on performing and continued to release three more albums, they eventually split up in 1973.

Ray and Robby joined forces with The Cult's Ian Astbury in 2002, to form a band named The Doors of the 21st Century. However, legal issues meant they had to change their name, initially settling for Riders on the Storm and then Manzarek-Krieger.

A feature film was made about The Doors in 1991. Directed by Oliver Stone, it starred Val Kilmer as Jim.

Even today, The Doors remain a much-revered band.

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