by Ben Fong-Torres and the Doors
Forty years ago, The Doors broke on through and romanced the public with poetic nightmares combined with a jazz-influenced brand of bluesy rock and roll. We all know about Jim Morrison, the band’s wildly erratic front man, who lived either on the edge of a stage or at the edge of his own mortality. The three remaining Doors members- John Densmore, Robby Kreiger and Ray Manzarek- give their take on what it was like to ride the ascending success and ultimately the burnout and downfall of comet Morrison. Ben Fong-Torres has the daunting but enviable task of coordinating this vast treasure of photos, interviews and fresh quotes into a timeline narrative that takes the readers from the beaches of California to the graveyard in France.
What Oliver Stone got wrong in his 1991 biopic, Fong-Torres is determined to set straight in this retrospective. Even though it was Jim who gained the most publicity as a charismatic singer and lyricist, he was the first to correct anyone that would garner him with more than one-fourth of the credit for the band’s success. The corresponding biographies of each member help to retell the now (in)famous stories but also add a more personal insight and explanation of these legendary tales.
It’s always been my contention that actually being in such a famous band makes it impossible to truly appreciate or understand your own impact. The Beatles never had “The Beatles” to appreciate or enjoy like the public did and the same thing goes for this remarkable group. The Doors were just trying to write some songs and score with the ladies of Venice, but after these four individual and creative elements combined, a funny thing happened resulting in pure rock and roll legend. It’s all here in beautiful detail and imagery, from the band’s first rehearsals and the groundbreaking shows at the Whiskey, the Ed Sullivan snub, Miami madness to Jim’s controversial departure from the United States and ultimately the planet. This is a beautiful coffeetable-styled book that chronicles all of The Doors’ phenomenal successes and internal struggles. Just as with The Beatles Anthology book, the surviving members have assembled to tell their side of the story and share some never before seen photos and anecdotes. This leaves Jim’s creative and prophetic lyrics- alongside his infamous quotes- as both his contribution towards the book and his path to or breadcrumb trail back… from the other side.
Hyperion Books: www.hyperionbooks.com