Publish date:

Liner Notes: The Doors Live In Pittsburgh 1970

Recorded on May 2, 1970 at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, the album includes more than an hour of fire and energy from Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger. Get the scoop on the show and the album from producer Bruce Botnik.

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What a concert, in an arena with a retractable roof, which, unfortunately, the building’s management wouldn’t open. Jim crooned and screamed the entire night, but he wasn’t in a talkative mod with the audience until late in the show.

In Boston, Jim was drunk and out of it for both performances, and the guys had to take up the slack. This show, on the other hand, was different — Jim was as clear as he could be onstage, and the guys moved to and fro with him, trusting the journey.

Sometimes The Doors were raging with fire and energy; at other times, when Jim jumped into the lyric of a different song, in the middle of something else, they were right there with him, sometimes taking maybe a second or two to make the leap.

This was the performance magic of The Doors. You could witness the concert of a lifetime — or be mystified and at a loss for words.

Before The Show:

Backstage was unusually quiet that evening in Pittsburgh. In one corner was Robby, sitting with his new girlfriend., Lynn (who later became Mrs. Krieger), caressing his Gibson SG guitar, unplugged and warming up on a song called “Sweet Substitute.”

In another part of the green room was John, circling, his drumsticks in hand, running over the song list in his head. Over by the door, Ray huddled with Paul Rothchild, the band’s producer, and they were in conversation with the local Elektra Records promotion man. In the middle of the room, Jim sat at the piano, playing to himself and deep in though. Bill Siddons, The Doors’ manager, dropped by and said, “Five minutes, and you’re on!” I ran back to the Fedco Audio truck, put the tape machine into “record,” and the guys headed for the stage.


There are some absolutely terrific moments on this album, as the stage was always a place of experimentation for The Doors. Check out the 22-plus minutes of “When The Music’s Over,” where Jim leads Ray, Robby and John into bits of songs they never played live and, in the process, brought in snippets of other songs to extend and enhance the musical dialogue.

Of further interest is “Close To You,” sung by Ray with backup by Jim. Ray always sang this song in concert, and he’d also sung it in 1968 at my wedding, sort of as a “message to the newlyweds.”

This album is a chronicle of a live performance that, coupled with all the rest of the concerts from the 1970 tour, are a magnificent document of The Doors as they were meant to be heard — live, in concert.

After the show:

They say that an army moves on its stomach, and, on the road The Doors were no different. Every town had a place that you had to go to after the show, sometimes even before the show.

In Pittsburgh, one spot in particular, Primanti Bros., down in the Strip District, was a “must-eat.” It stood out for its amazing sandwiches stuffed with the meat of your choice, cheese, coleslaw, fries, sauces and sliced tomatoes sandwiched between two thick slices of Italian bread. Those were the days when cholesterol was just a word, and Primanti Bros. was where we headed after the concert to get our fill of it

— Bruce Botnick

Technical notes:

The reason that this concert was soon long in coming is becau