This article was written just a few months after the release of their third studio album, “Waiting For The Sun”, and when they were on their first tour outside of North America. Exciting times for the band. Morrison died in 1971 and have later become one of those performers who have achieved an even greater status and dare I say even greater fame after his passing.
Elvis influenced Doors Jim
By Nick Logan
DURING the short time the Doors spent in London not long ago, Jim Morrison managed to get for himself a reputation of being “difficult” with the Press. NME colleagues were returning with strange tales of Morrison’s behaviour. Add to that his record company’s claim that Jim can be extremely civil, even erudite one day, and be gross (or as he says “primitive”) the next, and you will understand why it was with much apprehension that I journeyed to see the much publicised Morrison towards the end of his British stay.
At Polydor, I was shown to a small room on the third floor where a good impression of a madhouse was being effected. Various ladies and gentlemen were weaving backwards and forwards; Doors organist Ray Manzarek sat at a table covered in handouts; drummer John Densmore was sitting colorfully cross-legged on a chair and next to him guitarist Bobby Kreiger, behind dark glasses, surveyed the whole scene with a look of utter boredom. Surrounded by people, but still dominating the room, was Morrison himself, tight black leather jeans and all.
To add to the mellee, a three man camera-crew, who had been religiously following the group throughout its stay, was filming the whole affair for posterity, or Granada, or whatever. I was sat down in front of a door that kept opening and told there was to be a press conference. Presently, a young man came over, said we hadn’t met before, introduced himself as part of the camera crew, and promptly asked (there is another word for it) for a cigarette. My reply was short.
Several minutes elapsed. No signs of conference starting. So I asked if could speak to Jim Morrison. Impossible, I was informed, even though everybody else seemed to be doing just that.
Followed one of them to loo!
Instead I chatted with Doors John and Bobby, which was made difficult by the television camera which suddenly appeared in the proximity of my left ear and by the gentleman, keeping out of camera view, who was crawling along the floor and poking a mike up into our faces. “Yes it is a bit offputting,” agreed Bobby, who had obviously seen it all before. “And yes, they had actually followed one of them to the loo.”
When it became obvious there was to be no conference, I gave up waiting and approached the supposedly unapproachable Jim Morrison… whose reputation of being difficult was, I discovered, either falsehood or one of his extremes on the wrong day.
He was, in fact, quite a nice guy.
Mr. Morrison is, of course, something of a poet and is an intense young man given to periods of deep thought (accompanied by closed eyes and intense expression) and searching answers (accompanied by intense glances skyward).
There is also about him a hint, just a hint, that he does not take himself seriously much of the time — a trace of an inward smile on the dark handsome features which will often be there to greet you if you look up from transposing his thoughts to paper.
What did he hope to see on his short visit? “I’d like to see Stonehenge, fire-eaters and all that sort of thing. And ruins — I like ruins. I understand you can still see bomb damage in some suburbs. And l’d like to see Madame Tussauds.”
He was generous in praise of the Roundhouse audiences at the Doors-Jefferson Airplane concerts.
“The audience was one of the best we’ve ever had. Everyone seemed to take it so easy. It was different because in the States they are there as much to enjoy themselves as to hear you. Whereas at the Roundhouse, everyone was there to listen. It was like going back to the roots again and stimulated us to do a good performance.
“They really took me by surprise. I expected them to be a little resistent, a little reserved, but they were fantastic. That’s all I can say. I enjoyed playing at the Roundhouse – more than any other date for years.”
‘But I am not ashamed of it’
On the question of the Doors long wait for British chart recognition — and the fact that “Hello, I Love You” had given it to them and not one of their earlier, much better singles — he replied that it was the “economic system, record company, style and sound. Like ‘Light My Fire’ was one of the biggest selling records of all time but it didn’t even make a dent here. I don’t know.
“Sure ‘Hello, I Love You’ isn’t one of our best songs, but I am not ashamed of it.
“Really I like the other side better, I was hoping they would flip it and play that, but they haven’t. But now that we have got our foot in the door perhaps they will listen a bit more.”
In his record company biography, Morrison cites Presley, along with Frank Sinatra, as one of his favourite singers. How much was he influenced by Elvis? “Along with many of the early rock singers, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, he had an influence on me because of the music and the fact that I heard them at an age when I was kinda ready for an influence.
“It was a strong influence and they just seemed to open up a whole new world to me. They were very exciting and presented a strong intense landscape that I had only vaguely glimpsed before.”
Had there been any later or current influences. “I am much too involved in the music to pay much attention to other influences now. I couldn’t be influenced like that again. I suppose the influences are what I see and read. And air-planes, specially on take off.”
As for other groups, he commented: “Everyone is so good at the moment it is really boring. Sometimes I wish a really bad group would come along.”
Morrison was courteous enough, though he gave a slight impression of aloofness, but a glimpse of his primitive self came out at the questioning of one persistent reporter. He was asked about Jagger comparisons.
“I have always thought comparisons were useless and ugly. It is a short cut to thinking,” he countered.
About politics in his writing? “I don`t think so far politics have been a major theme in my songs. It is there in a few songs, but it is a very minor theme. Politics is people and their interaction with other people so you cannot really separate it from anything.”
He seemed not to like answering questions on why the Doors had not stayed longer in Britain and was then asked how he saw the group.
He fell into deep thought, eyes down, and finally replied: “How do you see yourself?”
His questioner pressed for an answer. More deep thought. “That’s a rhetorical question and I have given you a rhetorical answer. You might as well ask me how do I see my left palm.”
In such surroundings and on so short an encounter, it was difficult to get any further than the surface of Morrison’s character. Perhaps on the next time round, when Jim said he’d be pleased to do a longer, quieter interview, I may be able to get a little deeper. If I can catch the right extreme – that is.