It is fairly widely known that The Doors used bass players to supplement their sound on their albums. Doug Lubahn was the man who played bass on three of The Doors albums turned down the chance to be the fifth member of The Doors to seek his own place in the music world with his band Clear Light, and find a place in the music world he did.
Lubahn was an eighteen year old ski instructor in Aspen, Colorado by day and at by night would sit in with bands and play bass guitar. Mama Cass Elliott touring with the Mamas and the Papas hears him play and encourages him to come to L.A., he quits his ski instructor job and the next day gets on a plane with the Mamas and the Papas and goes to L.A. after wearing out his welcome at Elliott’s place he becomes homeless, living under bushes and in abandoned garages, but soon finds a band to join called The Brain Train which already had Dallas Taylor in the group who would go on to drum for Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The group soon scores a record deal with Elektra records and Paul Rothchild (also the producer of The Doors) agrees to produce them as long as they change their name to Clear Light, that was no problem for the starving band.
When Rothchild started recording The Doors second album “Strange Days” he approached Lubahn to play bass on the album to help the group get the sound they’re looking for. After a brief audition at a duplex shared by Jim Morrison, Pam Courson, Robby Krieger and John Densmore Lubahn is hired to play bass for The Doors. Jim Morrison picks Lubahn every morning in a yellow Beetle convertible and drives him to Sunset Sound to record. As Lubahn records through the “Strange Days”, “Waiting For the Sun”, and “The Soft Parade” sessions he sees The Doors go from a band enjoying the recording and creating process to a band that ages quickly as fame and pressure seems to physically and psychically affect the band.
During the recording sessions for “Strange Days” Paul Rothchild feels out Lubahn about becoming a permanent and official member of The Doors, Lubahn feels that Clear Light is ticket to stardom and decides to stay with the band but is still willing to sit in on Doors recordings. When Clear Light implodes and he sees the fortune The Doors have run into he becomes a little jealous and by the time of “The Soft Parade” doesn’t understand the musical direction the band is taking and decides to head for New York.
During the 70’s Lubahn plays with a lot of bands until he’s asked to join Billy Squier’s band, they’ve already put out Squier’s first album that put him on the map with “The Stroke” and Lubahn comes in, as a full member of the band for the “Emotions in Motion” recording sessions. When “Emotions in Motion” takes off and Squier’s band becomes the headlining act for auditorium and coliseum audiences Lubahn gets to live out his rock and roll dreams.
During his career Lubahn has played with or known such luminaries as Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, The Who, Billy Idol, Peter Tork, Stephen Stills, Alice Cooper, Bob Dylan, and John Belushi. As a song writer Lubahn’s songs have been recorded by Pat Benatar “Treat Me Right” and Patty Smyth “Talk To Me”.
Lubahn has retired from rock and roll and lives in Florida and has followed another passion, sailing. He bought a boat and in the past has run a charter fishing service and became known as the “Celebrity Skipper” who could regale his clients with tales of The Doors and his rock and roll adventures. In 2001 Lubahn retired from sailing for profit and lives in Florida. On December 19 Lubahn celebrated his 69th birthday, Happy Birthday Doug!
If you would like to read about Lubahn’s full rock and roll stories you can get his book “My Days with The Doors and Other Stories” and his website.
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