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The Column

Open? Shut Them
1/19/03

Thursday night, I had the Tonight show on in the background when something caught my attention. I’d heard Jay Leno say something to the effect of, “and now, the reunion of one of the greatest rock bands of all time…The Doors.” With all due respect, Jay, unless there was a bus accident that I didn’t hear about, I don’t think that’s possible.

Just to give you a bit of perspective, here’s today’s history lesson:

Singer/songwriter Jim Morrison fronted The Doors from start to finish - when he died of an alleged drug overdose in 1971. After Morrison’s passing, the surviving three members, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, and Ray Manzarek, released one more album - 1978’s “An American Prayer” as a tribute to Morrison. With the exception of a few greatest hits albums here and there, The Doors were officially shut.

But then came April 25th, 2002. On The Doors’ official website, there was this simple news update: “Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek are collaborating in private rehearsal sessions and hinting at the possibility of working with some prominent vocalists in the not too distant future.” In other words, break out your checkbooks, there’s going to be a reunion tour. Well, half of one, anyway.

It started with that Tonight Show, when Robbie and Ray appeared to promote their then-upcoming Las Vegas concert. The obvious question was, “who would be opening for The Doors?” (Badum!) But Robbie and Ray saying they’re The Doors is like Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo trying to remake “Rebel Without a Cause” and having someone stand in for James Dean. Robbie and Ray are not The Doors. They weren’t The Doors. They were part of The Doors. Maybe the Doorknob and the Buzzer. Jim Morrison was The Doors. And even if R&R somehow found a way to convince a post-mortem Jim to rejoin the band (I hear a group in Florida has the technology to do it, but has yet to reveal it to the public), that’s still only three quarters of the group. John, who is very much alive, is not part of the exploitation process.

John has enough common sense to form a separate group and not try to profit off of The Doors name. His group, Tribal Jazz, will release their first CD later this year. Notice the name of his group. It is not The Doors of Tribal Jazz or Tribal Jazz and a Guy From The Doors, or Doors Tribal Jazz Doors Doors. It is simply Tribal Jazz, a sign that John has recognized that his friend and co-worker passed on, and his career should move in the same direction - on.

When Kurt Cobain died, Nirvana’s drummer, Dave Grohl, kept playing music, but in the Foo Fighters. When Jerry Garcia died, The Grateful Dead stuck together, but renamed themselves “The Other Ones” in recognition of how different the band is without their most recognizable member. But 32 years after their front man died, Robbie and Ray are trying to keep the dream alive. It’s quite possible that Jay Leno was mistaken, and the two Rs are not referring to themselves as The Doors. But I looked up “The Doors” on Yahoo! and found something just as disturbing. A link to thedoors.com describes it as the “official site of John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison.” Was Jim really in on that decision? I can only imagine that conversation - mainly because it obviously never took place.

“Robby? Ray?”

“What is it, Jim?”

“If I happen to die before you guys (wink wink), can you make sure that we get a good domain name for our website before some cyber-squatter steals thedoors.com?”

“Jim, the web won’t be commonly used for another quarter century.”

“I know - I’m just thinking ahead of myself here. Oh, and I’m totally cool with you using the band’s name to play the Tonight Show. But only if John isn’t there. And make sure to wait until after Carson retires.”

“You’re the boss.”

Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing. It’s possible that this is all a misunderstanding, or that Morrison would have been fine with it. But it’s a lot more likely that a man widely known as a dark poet would much rather R-squared not perform his “Light My Fire” with the help of Kevin Eubanks and The Tonight Show Band. And I’m positive Morrison would be very surprised to learn that there’s a “Virtual Pilgrimage” to his grave on thedoors.com.

Then again, he is the one that came up with the idea for the website.

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