Famous friend: Henry Diltz's subjects included Mama Cass pictured in 1968 (Picture: Henry Diltz Corbis)
The historic venue of Proud Camden—the Grade II listed building once a horse hospital in Camden's Stables Market—is playing host to a photographic portrait exhibition of The Doors to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison's death on July 3.
The cool, open space with its white-washed walls is a perfect and uncluttered backdrop for the exhibition, which features photos by Bobby Klein, Guy Webster and Frank Lisciandro and charts the all-too-short but stellar career of the band and their charismatic front man.
From early publicity photos (who would forget the giant billboard to publicise the first album) to album sleeves and photos of The Doors in rehearsal, there's also previously unseen material of the band offstage and of Jim relaxing with friends.
Photos of the band in concert capture the magnetism of Jim's stage persona and with the photos arranged chronologically it's interesting to note the gradual relaxation of his apparent preoccupation with the camera while he wove his magic onstage.
The photographic chronicle underlines the metamorphosis in Jim's appearance during those four short years from handsome but chubby-cheeked young man to chisel-jawed heart throb, through to the heavily bearded images that we now know presaged the end of his life.
Frank Lisciandro captures the Jim that he knew as a personal friend. The charismatic performer on-stage and the quiet likeable person away
from it, who was, says Lisciandro 'more Rimbaud than Mick Jagger'.
Bobby Klein was the band's first official photographer, following them throughout their career and creating those first all-important publicity shots, including that billboard in Sunset Strip, Los Angeles.
Guy Webster's photos of the band are more ethereal and include the album sleeve for their first album 'The Doors'. The differing styles of all three photographers creates a coherent chronicle of the band and captures the exhiliaration of that era.
From 1967 to 1971 the Doors were at the forefront of the counterculture, their flame burning bright and intense—and which with Jim's death was extinguished all too soon.
This exhibition recalls the band who are still selling a million albums a year and who despite their all-too-brief career earned a place in the canon of rock history.
Bobby Klein, with no formal photographic training, broke through into the world of professional photography after compiling a book of all the photographs he had taken as a co-producer on 'live dance party' shows in LA. He took his book to all the record companies in LA where he had photographed music personalities and convinced some of the art directors to take a chance on him. Since then Klein has become the West Coast Photographer for Colombia Records, the official photographer for The Doors and Jim Morrison and he has photographed the likes of Janis Joplin, Dennis Hopper and Steve Martin. He also took many pictures of Pamela. Klein's insightful and powerful work was exhibited at Proud Chelsea during the summer of 2011 in an exhibition titled The Doors of Perception.
Pam backstage at The Whisky A Go-Go, July 1966
Jim and Pamela posing at the beautiful Muir Woods, Santa Monica, January 14th, 1967
Pamela appearing next to the band in a photo shoot. Taken the same day as the Muir Woods pictures, 1967.
London – "This is the end," said a visionary prophet 40 years ago. It was really the end of his earthly life, when he died aged only 27 in a Paris hotel on 3 July 1971. But it was the beginning of a new spiritual and infinite era, known as the myth of Jim Morrison.
On the 40th anniversary of The Doors leader's mysterious death, the Proud Camden gallery is staging a photographic portrait entitled "The Doors of Perception". Situated inside the famous Stables Market, the exhibition offers a tracking shot of pictures by Bobby Klein, Guy Webster and Frank Lisciandro during the Doors' legendary career.
An icon of the 60s counterculture, Jim Morrison is the protagonist of the gallery, with his enigmatic gaze and his physical charm that come out from every image. But here we have the opportunity to see other rare insights into the life of "The Lizard King", as well as in the work of all members of the Doors.
In a square room, three white walls show 31 pictures of the Doors and Morrison (25 black and white, 6 colour), whereas on the fourth wall there are photos of other rock stars like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and The Clash, to create the right atmosphere of those years.
It is possible to divide the exhibition in two main areas: on one hand, pictures by Guy Webster and Bobby Klein portray the four members of the group posing for album covers, which are aesthetically pleasing but predictable. These are classical photos of American music bands of those years, hippies dressed in the Californian landscape. Anyway the coloured ones reveal an exceptional sight about people and places of that age that we usually can see only in black and white.
On the other hand, pictures by Frank Lisciandro, who was a close friend of Morrison, are more fascinating because they constitute real stolen instants from the Doors' job, both on and off stage. For example, Lisciandro captures Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger while they are recording songs or talking to each other in the studio. Another is a close-up of John Densmore, sweaty while he plays drums. There are also moments of intimacy, like one tender picture of Jim embracing his girlfriend Pamela Courson in a garden.
The sensation is of little drops falling to create a lake of nostalgic admiration for that kind of music and those kind of people, who were able to change the future of generations with their extremely powerful songs. Maybe it is not enough to document the birth, evolution and final years of the Doors in thirty photos, but here the real aim is to give the audience the opportunity to see pictures never published before, with a more curious eye, about one of the most important bands of the era.
There are also some gadgets for fans and the gallery has three doors (obviously) open, which makes the room ventilated. And if you are lucky, you will hear Jim whispering in the wind: "The gate is straight, deep and wide, break on through to the other side."