The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Legends of Rock: The Doors

Open October 18, 2011 | Main Exhibit Hall

he Doors emerged amid the turbulence of the late Sixties with music that was as intense and complex as the times that spawned them. They derived their name from references to “the doors of perception” in works by William Blake and Aldous Huxley. The group’s dark, brooding personality came largely from singer Jim Morrison. Musically, the other members of the Doors - keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer Jon Densmore - combined classical rigor with freewheeling, jazzy improvisations, providing Morrison a platform from which to declaim his poetical lyrics in a portentous baritone. The source of Morrison’s intensity was addressed in an early interview: “It’s the feeling of a bowstring being pulled back for twenty-two years and suddenly let go.” When they weren’t performing original songs about sex, death and the unknown, the Doors would occasionally transform old blues numbers, such as Willie Dixon’s “Back Door Man” and John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake.”

The Doors formed in the summer of 1965 around Morrison and Manzarek, who’d met at UCLA’s film school. A year later the group signed with Elektra Records, recording six landmark studio LPs and a live album for the label. They achieved popular success and critical acclaim for their 1967 debut, The Doors (which included their eleven-minute epic “The End” and “Light My Fire,” a Number One hit at the height of the Summer of Love), and all the other albums that followed. As the Doors’ career wore on, however, Morrison’s problems with drugs and alcohol resulted in increasingly unpredictable behavior, culminating in an alleged incident of exposure onstage at a March 1969 concert in Miami. The Doors rebounded from this adversity with one of their finest albums, L.A. Woman, which contained the Top Forty hits “Love Her Madly” and “Riders On the Storm.” After its release, Morrison took a leave of absence from the Doors and moved to Paris, where he died of a heart attack on July 3, 1971.

The exhibit features a Ray Manzarek keyboard and Robby Krieger guitar along with numerous items relating to Jim Morrison, including the hospital bill from his birth.


Exhibit Details