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Doors drummer John Densmore has always been forthright in his interviews with Goldmine, from discussing singer Jim Morrison's alcoholism and reported indecent exposure during a Miami concert in 1969 to going to court to stop the 2002 Doors tribute band called The Doors of The 21st Century (Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger with Ian Astbury on vocals, Angelo Barbera on bass and Stewart Copeland on drums) from using the name.
Most importantly, Densmore is serious about continuing the legacy of The Doors' music. Here are five crucial comments about his life with The Doors.
On his first rehearsals with Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek
I remember thinking that there sure was some potential here. I knew Jim was special right away because of his words ... and he was an incredibly good-looking individual. All that was lacking was any kind of experience whatsoever. He couldn’t really sing at first. He was just sort of shy, and even at our first gigs together, he wouldn’t even face the audience. That’s what I also remember, me thinking, “Oh boy, this guy? Uh-oh.” Still, I had hopes of us lasting for a few years, so I could pay the rent at least. [Laughs] In my first book, [Riders On The Storm: My Life With Jim Morrison and The Doors], I wrote, “I guess ‘Of The Doors’ is permanently etched on my forehead,” and I’ve come to terms with that now. I’m proud of it.
On bringing a court case against The Doors of The 21st Century
Ian [Astbury] is a good singer. Nigel Williamson, the European journalist, was on the witness stand, and they’re really trying to get him by shouting at him, “What do you have against Ian Astbury? He’s English, like you!” Nigel says, “He’s a good singer. I don’t care if whoever they got was a great singer. I don’t care if they got Mick F**king Jagger. It’s not Jim, and therefore it’s not The Doors.” That’s the point. It’s like the Police without Sting, the Stones without Mick. What’s the point here? They were good. Ian’s good. Ray and Robby are great. Just get the name straight. Don’t call it The Doors if it’s without Jim! That’s the annoying part.
The lowest point while being in The Doors
Waiting For the Sun. Jim was drinking too much. He was bringing crazy people into the studio, and I threw my sticks up in the air and quit. Everybody knew there was an elephant in the room, but nobody would talk about it. And what did I do? I came back the very next day. I thought, “Are you kidding? We’re recording! We’re putting down our music to hopefully last. I can’t leave this sh*t. This is my life! Unfortunately, we got a crazy guy in the band but I’ll just have to deal with it.”
On Jim Morrison’s struggle with alcoholism
I quit the band many times. He was an alcoholic. It’s a bitch to be in a band with someone who is an alcoholic. It’s a bitch to be in a family with an alcoholic. Or to be married to one. I tend to rebuke a lot of the mythology that has sprung up in the wake of his death. He had a disease. I want kids to understand that. Recently, I have changed my answer to the question, “If Jim was around today, would he be clean and sober?” I always used to say, “Nah. He was such a kamikaze drunk.” I disagree now with myself. I look at Eric Clapton and what he’s accomplished. I look at Eminem and his CD, called Recovery. Yeah, man, it’s a different time. Jim just might have cleaned up his whole act. I don’t know.
Did Jim Morrison really pull out his penis onstage in Miami?
Of course not. If he had, he would have tripped over it.