I’ve always been glad I saw the Doors. At first I hated their records, but some song finally got to me – Soul Kitchen, I think. Anyway. I saw them three or four times. Once in SF, at Winterland, and three times at the Fillmore East. And later it turned out their first album was their best, really.
When Rolling Stone put out its One Hundred Greatest Albums issue, (kind of a countdown, with a page on many of them), The Doors’ first album came in at #25. Of all the winners, Manzarek was the only one who called the Editor, Jann Wenner, to complain. He said, “You found 24 albums that were better than ours???”
Manzarek – neat as a pin, right on the money, camel-hump keyboard bass, cheesy organ incredibly loud, he was pretty cool. None of the records or films capture the dynamism of his playing – it’s compressed for the recordings. When his hand came down it was thunderously loud, and when he lifted his hand there was silence (maybe a faint echo). Think “Alabama Song”. Big difference…
He was always the one to start talking about astrology and the universe and mysticism…and his solo stuff was awful. But he was solid – fought Oliver Stone about the movie, did not approve of it, wanted it to be about the four of them instead of a total “Jimbo” tangent. He said that half the time Jim was nothing like that. Sort of two personalities. He hated Stone, who wouldn’t budge on anything. Val Kilmer did a good singing job though – they used his voice, and in the studio, the real Doors couldn’t tell which was Jim and which was Val. He learned 40 songs, and they used 15.
There was a show at the Fillmore East where Manzarek lectured the audience for quite a while - told everyone the advantages of dressing neatly, getting jobs, having a place to live (someone told me he spoke for 45 minutes, but that could be exaggeration). He was wrapping it up when he said, "People are all really good deep down inside." Morrison, after just wandering around the stage and listening, stepped up to his mike and said, "Not me!"