Forty-six years ago today (January 4), The Doors released their self-titled debut LP under Elektra Records. The name of their record label was quite fitting, as the rock world practically turned upside-down with the fiery, volatile Jim Morrison and the eclectic, surprisingly literate brand of rock & roll the band brought to the forefront of the industry.
Jim Morrison was neither the first nor the last frontman in rock to push the buttons of the industry. But counterculture was already in full force in America in the late 1960s, so it could be said that he and The Doors arrived at the perfect time in rock history. While Bob Dylan penned poetic ruminations on the changing of times in America’s youth, Morrison set fire to the paper.
The Doors metaphorically did just that with their aptly named breakout single “Light My Fire,” which on its own served well as a rock-pop hybrid hit but went to another level with Morrison’s antics. The song still gets regular airplay here on 100.7 WZLX and all over classic rock stations for a reason: it captured the world in its tidal wave of sonic energy, and most of that can be attributed to Morrison.
“Girl we couldn’t get much higher” is one of the most famous (or infamous, depending on which side of the fence you lie) lyrics in rock & roll history, primarily not because of its literal content but the defiant lengths Morrison and the band went to keep it intact. Doors fans by now are quite familiar with the legendary incident where Morrison stuck it to the producers of the Ed Sullivan Show by agreeing to sing something less suggestive, only to utter the incendiary line anyway.
That act was enough to get The Doors banned from Sullivan’s stage forever, but of course it did little to nothing to affect the band’s following years. “Light My Fire” was far from a one-hit wonder, as The Doors ultimately is packed with classics that you still hear on classic rock radio regularly – namely, “Break On Through (To The Other Side),” their version of “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar),” “Back Door Man,” and “The End.”
The Doors weren’t just all about Morrison, though. Their fusion of pure rock & roll with blues, psychedelic and even a dash of jazz combined with Morrison’s vocals and persona to create one of the most potent mixtures of its time, delivering a total package that few, if any, other bands of the time could boast.
Some bands had that transcendent frontman. Some had the signature guitar licks. Some had the eccentricities of the psychedelic and the musical chops of the great bluesmen and jazzmen of the past. The Doors had at least a little bit of all those pieces. And their momentous debut album not only signified their arrival, but immediately stamped their place in history.