The Doors Reflect On Earliest Concerts; Jim Morrison’s Genius

Read the article in full at Rolling Stone.

“When I think about the beginning of the Doors, it feels like a strange, beautiful psychedelic dream that happened,” John Densmore says. “I guess it happened.”

The drummer has been reassessing the band’s salad days because he recently contributed to a newly released, limited-edition box set, London Fog 1966, which contains the earliest known recordings of the Doors. It features a recording of part of one of the band’s concerts at Sunset Strip club the London Fog that one of the group’s friends made that May, seven heavy, keyboard-saturated covers of blues and R&B songs by Muddy Waters, Wilson Pickett and Little Richard, as well as early originals like “Strange Days” and Morrison Hotel‘s “You Make Me Real.” It also contains black-and-white 8-by-10s, a replica of a beer coaster from the club, a postcard and a fabricated set list written up by Densmore. “All it’s missing is just a little clipping of a shag carpet with the smell of stale beer,” says the drummer, who speaks matter-of-factly, with a dry sense of humor. “The London Fog was a dump.” Taken as a set, the box evokes the most transformative time in the band’s career.

The drummer has been reassessing the band’s salad days because he recently contributed to a newly released, limited-edition box set, London Fog 1966, which contains the earliest known recordings of the Doors. It features a recording of part of one of the band’s concerts at Sunset Strip club the London Fog that one of the group’s friends made that May, seven heavy, keyboard-saturated covers of blues and R&B songs by Muddy Waters, Wilson Pickett and Little Richard, as well as early originals like “Strange Days” and Morrison Hotel‘s “You Make Me Real.” It also contains black-and-white 8-by-10s, a replica of a beer coaster from the club, a postcard and a fabricated set list written up by Densmore. “All it’s missing is just a little clipping of a shag carpet with the smell of stale beer,” says the drummer, who speaks matter-of-factly, with a dry sense of humor. “The London Fog was a dump.” Taken as a set, the box evokes the most transformative time in the band’s career.

“You could probably fit 50 or 60 people in there,” says guitarist Robby Krieger, who speaks slowly and carefully as he reflects. “It was just a bar.” They managed to fill the place with their friends on the first night (“The owner was ecstatic – ‘These guys have a following!'” Krieger says), but attendance fell off dramatically the next day. “You can hear, like, three people clapping on the recording,” the guitarist says. “We were lucky to get 10 people.”

Nevertheless, the club announced the arrival of the band with a sign that announced its arrival: “The Doors (Band From Venice).” A postcard replicating that sign is in the box set. “We were bohemian and that was the old beatnik turf,” Densmore says. But that wasn’t the kind of audience that came to see them. “It was sailors and perverts.”

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