Members: Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger
With The Doors celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2007, the legendary band is launching a major effort at introducing a new audience to the music and ethos of one of rock's most influential forces. From a feature-length documentary to radio and TV specials; from re-mastered albums to digital downloadable "virtual box sets" ; from coffee-table books to twin volumes of Jim Morrison's poetry; and from remixes to a new 40th Anniversary box set, the music and message of The Doors will once more Break On Through.
The Doors will be taking a decidedly different approach than many in this often crass era. "We don't need or want to spin things," says Jeff Jampol, The Doors' manager. "We just need to put The Doors in front of people, especially potential new fans. We want to make The Doors easy to find without pushing them on anyone or being contrived. We are striving for the highest quality, highest respect and highest credibility. We will not trivialize or over-commercialize what is real and meaningful to so many people."
The Doors' catalog regularly approaches 2,000,000 albums sold annually around the world and Jampol estimates there are more than 400 websites dedicated to the band and its members. Those achievements are especially extraordinary given that keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore (singer Morrison died in 1971) have performed together just twice since 1973 (for the band's 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and a 2000 VH1 special); that the band has allowed only a very few movies to use its music, including "The End" in Apocalypse Now, and the band has never used a song in a commercial. In fact, The Doors notably turned down Cadillac for the use of "Break On Through."
"If it's an environmentally conscious company or brand, a new technology, or promotes access to music and entertainment, we'll consider it," adds Jampol, "but we won't sell out The Doors or their music to just any brand, nor will we ever align ourselves with a mundane commercial product like toothpaste or deodorant."
The forthcoming anniversary, however, has sparked a desire to reach out to a new fan base.
"The Doors are absolutely and completely relevant today because we represent freedom," says Manzarek, who points out that many alternative rock stars seem to emulate Morrison's look, and that the hip-hop community has been attracted to The Doors' anti-authoritarian vibe. "When you are at that point in your life where you've left childhood but not yet put on the yoke of adulthood, we represent totally liberating artistic, literary and spiritual freedom. We're about opening the doors of perception in the closed-in, locked-up times we live in now."
In late 2005, The Doors Music Company and Bright Midnight Archives released the two-CD The Doors Live In Philadelphia '70, an historic concert digitally transferred from the original multi-track recordings then mixed and mastered by longtime sonic collaborator and original Doors engineer/co-producer Bruce Botnick.
There were flash-forwards as well as flashbacks in 2005. Superstar DJ Paul Oakenfold, one of the biggest names in electronic music, who has remixed tracks by Madonna, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and U2, reworked The Doors' "L.A. Woman" for his album The Club. Snoop Dogg's version of "Riders On The Storm"--with new musical contributions from Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore as well as the original master of Morrison's vocals--became the lead track on EA's "Need For Speed Underground 2" videogame. Acclaimed DJ/remixer BT debuted the "BT vs. The Doors" remix of "Break On Through (To The Other Side)" on iTunes and in Activision's "Tony Hawk Underground II" videogame. Crystal Method, Thievery Corporation, Limp Bizkit's DJ Lethal, Cypress Hill, and mixmaster Adam Freeland also mated DJ pop culture with The Doors.
"A lot of kids don't even realize we're from the '60s," says Krieger. "It's cool that our sound is perceived as that contemporary. We're turning new people onto The Doors and also bringing The Doors to a more diverse audience."
In February 2006, Love/Death/Travel, a special limited edition four-disc box set featuring three discs of studio cuts and one of remixes, some in 5.1 surround sound, was issued through Rhino Handmade. Only 5,000 individually serial-numbered copies were produced. Presented in a faux lizard-skin slipcase, half were earmarked for music supervisors (The Doors have been heard in recent TV series such as "CSI," "Alias" and "Entourage") and 2,500 are for sale online. Included are four reproductions of Joel Brodsky photographs and a lithograph of Morrison, hand-signed by Shepard Fairey of "Obey/Giant" fame.
The Doors by The Doors, a coffeetable anthology co-penned by renowned writer Ben Fong-Torres and published by Hyperion, is now in stores. Rhino Records has released a new 12 disc box set entitled "Perception" ; the box contains 12 discs (6 CDs and 6 DVDs) featuring every studio album--CDs with all the classic mixes as well as almost two hours of bonus tracks, outtakes and unreleased Doors songs, and the DVDs have every album in 5.1Surround Sound AND a brand new "40th Anniversary remix" of all six albums, all in hi-resolution 96/24 digital sound along with the outtakes and alternate takes, photo galleries and video clips. Apple's iTunes will offer digital albums, virtual box sets and downloads of live and rare tracks, and November 2006 will be claimed as "The World Of The Doors" month on iTunes. "There's a whole new world out there," notes Densmore. "We're getting our music into those new digital venues."
For 2007, a four-hour radio special will air internationally,. a full-length Doors documentary set for theatrical release is being co-produced with Emmy-winning producer Dick Wolf, and will include a great deal of unreleased footage plus first-time-ever interviews with the Morrison family, and a multipart cable television special is in the works as well.
Even the band's merchandising has been completely revamped, featuring more than 130 new designs and pieces with a return to the original dies, stencils and vintage Doors look. Appearing in late 2007 will be a Jim Morrison TreasuresÂ© coffeetable photo/scrapbook, including reproductions of souvenirs. Bright Midnight Archives, The Doors' joint venture label with Rhino/Warner Bros., will release never-before-issued live and rare recordings from 1967-1970 tours.
Hollywood honored The Doors with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in early 2007. And in May of 2007 The Doors will be featured as the major exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame .
The Doors epitomized the '60s, forming in Los Angeles and releasing their debut record in January 1967. The LP charted at 2 (and is currently certified quadruple platinum). Each of the six albums that followed from the quartet over the next four years charted in the Top 10, including Strange Days, L.A. Woman and the 1 Waiting For The Sun. Every studio album is currently platinum, with Absolutely Live gold. Eight singles were Top 40 hits: "Light My Fire" and "Hello, I Love You" gold 1s and "People Are Strange," "Love Me Two Times," "Love Her Madly," "Riders On The Storm" and the gold "Touch Me" equally timeless classics. In total, The Doors have sold more than 75,000,000 records and DVDs.
The Doors' concerts caused riots, and controversy was widespread as the band was spotlighted in magazines from Seventeen to Time. With Morrison's passing, he became the quintessential mythic hero of rock, forever the 27-year-old poet-rebel. His gravesite is among the Top 5 tourist attractions in Paris, a city that is home to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, EuroDisney and the Champs d'Elysees. More than 10 Doors collections have achieved gold or platinum status since his death, including the nine times platinum Best Of The Doors. In the pantheon of rock group icons, there are, arguably, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd and The Doors.
Their words and music changed lives--and are as important today as they were almost 40 years ago. Amid the general apathy of Gen X and Gen Y, the music of The Doors can still inspire the questioning of authority and a desire for personal freedom and enlightenment. "We stood for something," says Densmore. "We still do. Somebody's got to!"
Manzarek agrees: "The ultimate way to spread peace and joy is one person, by one person, by one person, and that's what we're trying to do for our 40th anniversary celebration."
With universal ideas and an unmistakable identity and sound, The Doors are a reminder that rock is, truly, important.