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Tribute to the Lizard King

The Jim Morrison Project is an audio & visual anthology detailing the life of Jim Morrison through his poetry, film work, artwork, spoken word & music with The Doors.

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40 Years After His Death, Jim Morrison Remembered By Peers

Singer, lyricist, poet, shaman, sex symbol: Jim Morrison was all of these and more during his career with The Doors.

Since Morrison's mysterious death in Paris at age 27 on July 3, 1971, his legend has grown, thanks in part to those who recorded and performed with him sharing memories of their personal and creative moments.

Ray Manzarek

Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek often paints a big-screen picture when discussing his experiences with Morrison. That's only natural considering Manzarek met Morrison while they were students at UCLA's film school.

Light My Fire by Ray ManzarekTheir first performance together is chronicled in great detail early on in Manzarek's book "Light My Fire: My Life With The Doors" (published in 1998). Manzarek, who, as Screaming Ray Daniels, sang with a band called Rick and the Ravens (that featured his two younger brothers), was playing a gig at a place called the Turkey Joint West in Santa Monica, Calif. Morrison and some other UCLA film students were in the crowd, and Manzarek could hear Morrison calling out for "Louie Louie" from the back of the room.

Manzarek and the band obliged, but not before he introduced Morrison as a guest singer.

"He bopped around and sang himself hoarse, what with his whoops and yells and screams and shouts and his untrained vocal cords," Manzarek wrote. "But he loved it… That was the first time Jim Morrison ever sang onstage."

Manzarek's most cinematic Morrison memory is arguably the time they crossed paths in summer 1965—by then both were UCLA grads—on the beach in Venice, Calif. Manzarek was enjoying a day in the sun by himself when, as he wrote in his book, he saw a guy "in semi-silhouette, wearing cutoffs, without a shirt, weighing about 135 pounds. Thin, about six feet tall; rail-thin kind of guy with long hair. There was something strangely familiar about this watery apparition. Was this a manifestation of the ocean itself? Did our mother conjure up this solidity? Or was this a projection of my own Jungian inclinations toward liquidity and wholeness? I looked again, with more intensity, and who should emerge from the light, from behind the sun, into my field of vision, into my field of consciousness, but Jim Morrison!"

Manzarek called out to Morrison, whom he thought had moved to New York. As they exchanged small talk about that and other topics, Morrison borrowed lines and looks from the likes of Paul Newman, James Dean and Steve McQueen.

The conversation—and ultimately their relationship—changed dramatically when Morrison told Manzarek he had been writing some songs. Manzarek then coaxed his shy friend into singing one: "Moonlight Drive." Impressed, Manzarek asked to hear more, and Morrison obliged by singing "My Eyes Have Seen You."

Right then and there, Manzarek suggested to Morrison that they put a band together, predicting they'd "make a million dollars."

"Ray, that's exactly what I had in mind," Morrison replied.

Flash forward to 2011: Manzarek says he, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore had a special way of collaborating with Morrison.

"Jim did not play an instrument," Manzarek says. "So basically, he heard songs in his head and would sing them with his lyrics, then John, Robby and I would create the melody, the arrangement, the chord changes and the rhythm. We would create the music of The Doors around him and nestle and caress and massage his words and bring out all the hidden meaning behind the words."

When it came time to record his vocals, Morrison followed a regular ritual.

"He would have a shot of whiskey," Manzarek says. "You gotta limber up those nodes and vocal cords, you know? You've got to give them a little stimulation. He'd take a deep breath, walk right in and nail it—unless he had a little too much massaging of the nodes and vocal cords. Then he would get it the next day. But most of the time, I'd say 75 percent or 80 percent of the time, he was right there. He was very professional in the studio. This legendary maniac was very, very good in the studio."

Marc Benno

Guest musicians were common on Doors albums, but it wasn't until "L.A. Woman" that the group included a second guitarist: Texas native Marc Benno.

Jim Morrison Marc Benno

In the studio for "L.A. Woman" (left to right): Jim Morrison and Marc Benno — courtesy of Marc Benno.

With his first solo album under his belt, Benno was back home in the Lone Star State when he got a call from Bruce Botnick, the longtime engineer for The Doors who was going to co-produce the "L.A. Woman" album with the band.

David Anderle, who produced Benno's debut album and was a Botnick friend, had recommended the guitarist for the project.

Benno remembers the two-story building in Los Angeles where the album was recorded as a "deep-thinking environment," with Morrison referring to the words he had written in a big book.

"I think someone from England had given it to him," he says. "It was gigantic, like an L.A. phonebook, but it was leather-bound and full of poems, lyrics and drawings. I remember him showing me 'L.A. Woman,' and I thought, 'That right there will be a great blues tune of sorts.'"

Benno played guitar on that song as well as a few others. During the sessions, Morrison "got into it as if he was performing to a live audience. He had a handheld mike, and that's when I realized, 'This guy is getting so into it.' My jaw dropped when he started doing the vocals."

One day, Morrison took Benno to lunch at the Blue Boar, which the guitarist recalls serving "a lot of game and unusual foods—the most normal thing on the menu was turtle soup."

Morrison brought more than a guest to the restaurant.

"He had a bottle of Jack Daniels with him," Benno says. "I said, 'Are you going to walk in [with that]?' And he said, 'They know me; it's OK.' And when he walked in, it was, 'Mr. Morrison!'"

Back at the studio, Morrison took notice whenever Benno played Freddie King guitar licks and Leon Russell-style piano between takes.

"He would just stand there and watch and smile at me," Benno says.

 Chris M. Junior (2011, July 3). 40 years after his death, Jim Morrison remembered by peers. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from www.goldminemag.com
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Guest Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Doors Playlist

  • Jim Morrison The Doors ~Light My Fire
  • The Doors Live Footage at "Kongreßhalle" Frankfurt 1968
  • Feast Of Friends Trailer - Nov. 10th, 2014
  • Stories of my time with Jim Morrison
  • Jim Morrison "Tales Of The American Night" (The Lost Paris Tape) Poetry Recording 1969
  • L'Histoire de Jim Morrison (Documentaire français 1991 TVRip)
  • Three Hours For Magic  The Jim Morrison special
  • The Doors  "Miami - March 1, 1969"
  • The Doors - R-Evolution 2013 (Official DVD Release)
  • The Doors PBS Studio 1969 Full concert
  • The Doors Break On Through at "She-Bang" 1967 New Good Quality
  • The Doors Break On Through "Promotional & Publicity Film" 1966 HD New Footage
  • Jim Morrison - VH1 Confidential Segment
  • The Doors at '"Murray the K In New York" Full Outtakes 1967
  • The Doors - Light My Fire [HD]
  • Jim Morrison Backstage at "Bakersfield Civic Center " 1968 Footage
  • The Doors- Light My Fire Official Live
  • the doors - love me two times
  • Jim Morrison on Why Fat is Beautiful | Blank on Blank | PBS Digital Studios
  • Before the End: Searching for Jim Morrison [OFFICIAL FILM PREVIEW]
  • Riders on the Storm - The Doors HD
  • The Doors, Mr. Mojo Risin The Story Of LA Woman
  • Jim Morrison: His Final Hours - "Final 24"
  • The Doors Aura Studio Demos (1965) [Early recordings of the Doors]
  • THE doors - Live at the Bowl `68
  • Doorstown: Jim Morrison and The Doors Documentary
  • Jim Morrison on the Future of Music (Electronic Music)
  • The Doors Live 1968
  • The Doors Are Open (Full Movie)
  • The Doors   Soundstage Performances 1969
  • The Doors: Mr. Mojo Risin - The Story of LA Woman extras
  • Harrison Ford touring with The Doors (1968)
  • The Doors - Bakersfield 1970 (Synced footage)
  • The Doors When the Music's Over Live at Matrix "San Francisco" 1967
  • Turn out the Lights - Jim Morrison's last night on stage
  • The Doors | People Are Strange (Official Video)
  • The Doors Break on Through Live at "Boston" 1970
  • Members of The Doors Discuss The Genesis of "Mr. Mojo Risin'"
  • Patricia Kennealy-Morrison on Jim Morrison
  • Jim Morrison & Women
  • 40 Second Wonder ;)
  • The Doors - Roadhouse Blues, BEST version (live in N.Y. 1970) [music video]
  • The Doors - rare - backstage before a concert
  • The Doors - L.A. Woman - HQ (official music video)
  • The Doors - Wishful Sinful
  • The Doors Build Me a Woman Live at Aquarius Theater "Private Rehearsal" 1969
  • The Doors Morrison Hotel Silent 8mm Film Footage 1969 The Changeling 12 11 70
  • The Doors Five to one / Spanish Caravan Live at "Philadelphia Arena" 1968
  • The Doors Five to One Live at Cleveland Public Auditorium August 3 1968
  • The Doors Back Door Man Live at Matrix "San Francisco" 1967
  • A Night With Jim Morrison at The Alta Cienega Motel
  • The Doors - Riders On The Storm (ORIGINAL!) - driving with Jim
  • The Doors - GLORIA - dirty version (music video, fantasy cut)
  • The Doors, Spanish Caravan Live, Madison Square Garden, New York Jan 24, 1969
  • Dawn's Highway Trailer Small.mov
  • The Doors - Ships With Sails (HQ Audio)
  • THE DOORS ROBBY KRIEGER TALKS JIM MORRISON PARDON
  • THE DOORS - Rare promo video of Light my fire
  • Rare Live Footage of The Doors and Jim Morrison
  • Rare Doors Footage; Those were the Days
  • The Doors - Let It Slide
  • The Doors - When The Music's Over
  • DOORS Lead-Singer Jim Morisson Visits French Movie Set DAYS Before His Death
  • The Doors- Five to One
  • The Doors - Love Street
  • The Doors - Roadhouse Blues (Live)
  • The Doors - Moonlight Drive [HD]
  • The Doors - When The Music's Over (LIVE IN EUROPE 1968)
  • Jim Morrison in "Florida State University: Toward a Greater University"
  • Jim Morrison Alta Cienega Motel Room 32
  • The Doors - Waiting for the sun
  • the doors live light my fire hollywood bowl 1968
  • The Doors - The Changeling Live RARE 8mm Home Movie
  • The Doors - Spanish Caravan (From "Live In Europe 1968" DVD)
  • Back Door Man- The Doors( Live in Seattle ) RARE
  • The Doors - Light My Fire (Live In Europe 1968)
  • The Doors - Frankfurt, Germany 1968
  • Jim Morrison in an Airplane
  • The Doors "People Are Strange"
  • Jim Morrison, The Weird Dawn of Dreams
  • The Doors - The Soft Parade
  • Adolf Hitler is still alive
  • The Doors (The Crystal Ship)
  • The Doors (Wild Child rare version)
  • The Doors - Touch Me

Featured Book

The Doors On The Road
by Greg Shaw provides a comprehensive timeline of live performances, reviews of the shows, stage antics of the performers, gossip related to the events, and recording sessions.

"Horse Latitudes" I wrote when I was in high school. I kept a lot of notebooks through high school and college, and the when I left school, for some dumb reason—maybe it was wise—I threw them all away. There's nothing I'd rather have in my possession than those two or three lost notebooks. I was thinking of being hypnotized or taking sodium pentothal to try and remember, because I wrote in those books night after night. But maybe if I'd never thrown them away, I'd never have written anything original, because they were mainly accumulations of things that I'd read or heard, like quotes from books. I think if I would have never gotten rid of them I would have never been free.

—Jim Morrison

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