How Doors feud started over car ad
The Doors drummer John Densmore has recounted how he fell out with bandmates Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek when a $15m advertising deal reminded him of something Jim Morrison had said in 1971.
In 2003 the band were approached by Cadillac, who wanted to use Doors music in a promotional campaign. While the other surviving members were interested in negotiating, Densmore refused.
He remembered a similar situation when Buick wanted to use the band’s track Light My Fire, changing the lead lyric to “Come on Buick light my fire” – and Morrison exploded at the rest of the band when they considered the offer.
Densmore tells Rolling Stone: “Jim told us he couldn’t trust us any more. We’d agree we would never use our music in any commercial – but the money Buick offered us had been hard to refuse.
“Jim accused us of making a deal with the devil. He said he would smash a Buick with a sledgehammer.”
Densmore has written about the situation in his book The Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison’s Legacy Goes On Trial. He insists that, despite court battles, he never wanted to stop Krieger and Manzarek playing Doors tracks – he just didn’t want them to use the name. “They were great,” the drummer says. “I just wanted them to be clear.”
In the legal fight that followed, it was argued that Densmore’s approach amounted to him preventing his former colleagues from making their living as musicians. But that’s not the worst of it as far as he’s concerned: “They tried to convince the jury I was an eco-terrorist because I am involved with a handful of peaceful, credible environmental organisations. I couldn’t believe some of things I heard them say.
“I felt betrayed, hurt and very alone. Now, you can probably Google my name and al Qaeda will come up. It was really disturbing.”
But he reports it’s all in the past – and he’d consider working with his former colleagues again. “I just talked to Robby a few days ago. I’d get together for a one-off if there’s a good reason. But it would have to be for charity, not for money.”
Meanwhile, the record label exec who signed Morrison and co in 1966 has masterminded a new iPad app. Called simply The Doors, it was conceived and produced by Elektra founder Jac Holzman. It’s described as “an immersive experience that delves deeply into every aspect of The Doors’ iconic career with interactive content, unpublished band images and artwork, rare videos, music, and much more.”