History doesn’t come in large swathes all the time, some of the smaller motions escalate and build towards the more dramatic events. Today in Doors history we have a couple of those smaller motions that would have larger repercussions.
Late April of 1966 The Doors are dropped from Columbia Records. They had been signed five months before by Billy James who was the A&R (artists and repertoire) man at Columbia who Bob Dylan trusted and was an integral part of Dylan’s early success. The Doors had signed a contract for five and half years with the stipulation that Columbia release a single within the first six months. While Doors drummer John Densmore, was in James’ office he noticed a drop list with The Doors name on it. He went and told the other members of the band and they decided to call James and asked for their release. Columbia released them.
April 24, 1967 Elektra Records releases the shortened version of “Light My Fire” as a single. Following the stagnation of the first single of “Break on Through/End of the Night” on the charts at 126, Elektra was planning on releasing “Twentieth Century Fox” as the second single. Holzman heard from L.A. DJ Dave Diamond that he was getting requests for “Light My Fire” which he couldn’t play because the song was too long. Holzman decided to release a single of “Light My Fire” and told The Doors’ producer Paul Rothchild to make the edits. Within a half hour Rothchild had an edited version of the song and with some trepidation approached the band with the 3 minute version. The band was reluctant to make the changes because “Light My Fire” depends heavily on the solos, but the edits Rothchild made worked and didn’t compromise the organic integrity of the song, The Doors approved it. Doors keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, claimed that whenever “Light My Fire” was on the radio he couldn’t tell if it was the edited version or the full length version until it played out. “Light My Fire” was released as a single with the “B” side being “The Crystal Ship” and quickly put The Doors on the national map and gave them the success they needed to stay together and become the cultural phenomena they are today. To read the story of “Light My Fire” becoming a single read “Light My Fire, The Single”.
April 24, 2005 The estate of Jim Morrison joins John Densmore lawsuit against The Doors of the 21st Century. The lawsuit alleged that Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger were using The Doors name without the consent of the other members of the band. Densmore’s suit later prevailed. Densmore wrote about the experience in his 2013 book “The Doors Unhinged”.
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