Blowing out 53 birthday candles today is John Densmore, drummer for the
Doors. Led by the late, great rock-poet Jim Morrison, the Doors are
remembered for such shamanistic, bluesy rock songs as "L.A. Woman,"
"Light My Fire" and "The End." Many of their songs presented a darker
image of the California hippie scene than was the prevailing perception
in the late '60s. Densmore started off playing drums with a band called
the Psychedelic Rangers. He was recruited to join the Doors by organist
Ray Manzarek, with whom he attended a meditation class. Densmore, in
turn, brought in Psychedelic Rangers' guitarist Robbie Krieger. In 1966,
they became the house band at L.A.'s Whisky-A-Go-Go ,but were fired four
months later for performing the Oedipal anthem "The End." By that time,
though, the buzz was pretty hot about the group, and they soon found
themselves signed to Elektra.
The group's self-titled debut hit No. 1 in 1967, as did its single,
"Light My Fire." The Doors quickly became an electrifying presence on
stage and on the radio, releasing hit after hit, all of which featured
music to space out to and Morrison's lyrics to analyze. Morrison's
continual attacks on the American status quo invited continual police
interference when it came to putting on live shows, a trend that
climaxed with Morrison's March 1969 arrest on indecency charges in
Miami. The Doors released their most elaborate recording that year, but
Soft Parade was greeted by jeers of pretension from critics and
"sell-out" from fans. IL.A. Woman was released in 1971, but
Morrison pulled away from the group and moved to Paris soon after its
release. He died of heart failure later that year. Densmore and the two
other remaining members of the Doors recorded as a trio for two years
after Morrison’s death, but quit in the face of public indifference.
When the Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive was
published in 1980, the Doors catalog sales began to pick up again,
introducing the group to a whole new generation. In 1993, the group was
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Pearl Jam's Eddie
Vedder taking the place of Morrison at the ceremony. Last year, Densmore
and his wife, Leslie Neale, appeared in Argentine playwright Eduardo
Pavlovsky's play "Close (Cerca) " at the Stage's Theater Center in
Hollywood. Earlier this year, the Doors released Box Set, a
collection that features rare and live tracks, as well as "Orange County
Suite," a song that the living members of the group recorded under a
Morrison spoken-word piece.
Other birthdays: Billy Paul, 53; Lou Rawls, 62; Eric Bloom (Blue Oyster
Cult), 53; Gilbert O'Sullivan, 51; Klaaseje Van Der (Shocking Blue), 48;
Steve Jansen (Japan), 38; and Sam Reid (Glass Tiger), 34.