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It was the end of something really special, when Jim Morrison was found dead in Paris on July 3, 1971. Somehow, it seemed fitting that the revered singer and poet would not die any ordinary death, but instead, a mysterious one in the “City of Light” , far , far away. But that’s for those who believed he had truly died. For many, the idea was too much to bear, and to this day, the rumor that Morrison is still very much alive still circulates.

A bright flame in his day, Morrison inspired millions with his devotion to art, poetry and music, as well as scared them with his drug use and wild ways. Still, he touched those who knew him, and those who knew his work, with his intensity and sincerity. Jim Morrison was an act that could not be followed, a one of a kind, an original.

Maybe we felt his spirit just a little bit recently, at The Doors 40th Anniversary Celebration on (where else?!) Sunset Boulevard, Jim’s old stomping ground. As much as we wanted to see Jim Morrison alive and well, (what a grand entrance that would have made!) it was not meant to be. A legion of fans of all ages waited not-so patiently for the celebration to begin at three former Doors hotspots- the Whisky ′a Go Go, the Cat Club (the site of the Doors” debut in 1967) and Book Soup (formerly Cinematheque 16 movie house, where Jim Morrison read poetry)- to get a glimpse of surviving Doors’ members Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore. The West Hollywood event included the release of the box set “Perception”, the first official band autobiography, and a preview of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit to be unveiled next May.

Weaving between the fans, (with his brother acting as bodyguard!) I was able to ask Manzarek if in his wildest dreams, did he ever think that people would still be listening to the songs the Doors recorded for their first album, four decades later? “No”, I was shocked, ”he replied.” We were only thinking about that day, that moment.” Happily, the keyboardist still has his sense of sarcastic humor. When I asked how he thought the band had impacted culture and society, he said: “We didn’t effect it at all. George Bush still got elected.”

Densmore, whom we caught after his book signing, had a different thought, “I think we have affected culture tremendously. We are a mirror of culture, and art mirrors culture.”

A big tent served as the V.I.P. lounge area, with access to both the Whisky and the Cat Club. Guests who weren’t waiting in line to have their books signed or checking out Jim Morrison memorabilia hung out at the bar, a true ltribute to the Lizard Man. While archived Doors footage played in the club all night, DJ Jim Ladd of radio station 95.5 KLOS broadcast live from the V.I.P. lounge. (Driving away that night, I heard another local dj complain that he couldn’t even get into any of the venues, that’s how packed they were!)

A late-night jam session at the Whisky was bittersweet. Krieger, Manzarek, and special guests Perry Farrell, Chester Bennington, and Slash played hits like “Touch Me”, “L.A. Woman” and the unforgettable “People Are Strange”. One cannot call it a true Doors reunion though, because even though those boys are in their 60’s, they still can’t play nice. Densmore is still involved in an ongoing legal battle with the rest of the Doors, which disappointed many fans who wanted to see the three members of the band play together again. (And if you are really into trivia, you have only to read each of the band members’ biographies to find out how the rift originally started!)

Besides the obvious fact that 40 years had passed, the passage of time was even more evident as the crowd waved camera phones, not lighters. To the veteran Doors fans I interviewed, this was only slightly more jarring than the fact that by the first encore it was time to leave (past bed time! ). Yes, the 60’s are over, friends, but long live The Doors!

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 62 - September 2018
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