Break on Through: The Doors light a fire in 1967

“I?ve always been attracted to ideas that were about revolt against authority. When you make your peace with authority, you become an authority. I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning.?

? Jim Morrison, December 1966

Doors Bobby KleinUSE-01-01.jpgThe billboard hung over Sunset Boulevard like a rising sun, although not everybody grasped its importance. Anyone over the age of 20, for example, would have simply motored by, a little perturbed to see some hairies hoisted so high above the street, perhaps, but otherwise oblivious to what it might mean.

?The Doors break on through with an electrifying album,? it read, in bold letters alongside the portraits of four moody faces ? one bespectacled and grimacing, one full lipped with a prominent nose, and two who just glowered like they were coming to get you. Which, Mr. Fat Cat Businessman, they probably were.

As for what it was advertising, though? Well, it was probably some new beat group.

?I believe the Doors billboard was the first rock billboard ever erected on Sunset,? recalls photographer Bobby Klein, and he remembers the very moment at which it was swung into place by the work crew ? because he was the one charged with rousing all four band members from their beds, so that they, too, might be present at this historic moment.

?We were all really excited to see it go up,? Klein continues. ?They weren?t even really doing movies at that time; it was all product merchandising. So this was a really big deal.?

Local radio was already planning to move out in force to cover the moment, ? … and I?d got wind of it, so I went to the PR people at Elektra and said, ?How about getting the Doors out there and photographing them???

Klein already knew the band. He was, in fact, the man entrusted with their first ever Elektra promo photos, out at Bronson Caves, at the end of Beechwood Canyon.

The hour at which he?d be collecting them was disturbing.
But he was right. The opportunity to play a personal part in their own little bit of history was too good to pass up.

And so they clambered up the ladders and clustered on the scaffolding, looking down on the Strip while their own outsized faces looked down on them, and one of the most iconic photographs of the Doors? short reign was in the can.
And it was still only the first week in January.


1967 means a lot of things to a lot of people today, so much so that it?s difficult to believe (or even remember) that it started out just like any other year, with few suggestions whatsoever of how momentous it might become.

The potential for something was there, of course. The Monkees may have been the biggest band on the scene at the time, outscreaming even the Beatles and Stones in the pre-teen marketplace wherein all pop fans are birthed.
But move up the age scale a little, to the generation who got their start wetting knickers at Elvis and swapping mean stares with Eddie, and everywhere you turned, somebody else was standing on the brink of something momentous ? the Dead and the Airplane spreading Haight across America; Jimi Hendrix in England, preparing to unleash ?Purple Haze;? the Beatles sequestered in the studio for months, planning ?Strawberry Fields Forever.?

And in L.A., the Doors were chafing at the bit while Elektra Records readied their resources for the release of the band?s first album.
But it was only their first, just as the Dead and the Airplane had still to release their second. Everything was

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