Posts Tagged ‘Elektra Records’

On May 7th, Elektra Records signed pop-rock group The Band Camino. Co-frontmen Jeffery Jordan and Spencer Stewart and guitarist Graham Rowell formed the band in Memphis in 2015 — later recruiting drummer Garrison Burgess and have built a loyal fan base with their independently released EPs, 2016’s My Thoughts On You and 2017’s Heaven.

Elektra’s senior director of A&R Johnny Minardi was one of those early fans, thanks to his friends who had introduced him to the band’s song “What I Want.” Minardi, who was at Equal Vision Records at the time and joined Elektra in 2017, says he was drawn to the song because it didn’t sound like everything else from rock bands today. “They have such great melody, and hooks that live with you. You can listen to the band and walk away for two weeks and be like, ‘Why is this still in my head?'”

As the band continued releasing music independently, Minardi kept in touch with their manager, Jameson Roper. And once they released the roaring electric guitar-heavy jam “Daphne Blue” in August 2018, Minardi wanted to act fast: “That’s when I truly head over heels fell in love.” So earlier this year, when The Band Camino was looking to sign a record deal, Minardi got to work and sent several coworkers to the band’s New York show at Music Hall of Williamsburg in February. After Elektra’s A&R reps Caterina Nasr and Danny Rakow saw them perform, Minardi remembers, “They called me freaking out.”

“They’re a younger rock band — which is hard to say these days — that actually puts people in venues, but has a modernized pop appeal to it as well, compared to a lot of the bands [just] having success at pop radio,” Minardi says of the foursome, who are all in their early 20s. “They bring the full gambit of what a true pop-rock band is these days.”

After announcing their Elektra signing on May 14th, The Band Camino have re-released “Daphne Blue” and unveiled the heartbreak anthem “See Through.” They also announced their biggest headlining tour to date, hitting 1,000 to 2,000-person rooms around North America. The group has continued making music with frequent collaborator (and Nashville superproducer) Jordan Schmidt and Minardi assures there will be new music before they hit the road — also hinting that the new material will bring even more impactful energy to The Band Camino’s sets. “We all set out to be the biggest band in the genre ever,” he says. “That’s where we’re trying to go.”

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White Reaper Sign to Elektra Records, Release New Single "Might Be Right"

White Reaper, the raucous garage-punk band from Louisville, Ky., are back with an equally vivacious new single, “Might Be Right.” The Kentucky rockers have also announced that they are now signed to Elektra Records.

Vocalist/guitarist Tony Esposito recalls in a statement, “I remember seeing the big Elektra ‘E’ on the back of so many of my favorite Cars, Doors, Queen and Metallica records. I still can’t believe it.” Drummer Nick Wilkerson adds, “It’s awesome to be a part of a label with such rich history.”

In White Reaper’s new track, Esposito’s amplified vocals coincide with Nick Wilkerson’s turbulent beats, Sam Wilkerson’s pounding bass lines, Ryan Hater’s lively keyboard chords and Hunter Thompson’s dynamic electric guitar shreds. Elements of nu-disco and pop intermingle with the band’s signature garage-punk sound.

The official music video depicts each member performing with their respective instrument, A neon sign glistens, showcasing the White Reaper logo as rotating spotlights swirl around the band. Primary-colored backdrops and various split screen visuals are utilized throughout the video’s almost four minutes.

White Reaper’s latest single is their first new music release in two years. The group’s last LP, 2017’s The World’s Best American Band, reached critical acclaim, and featured tracks like “Judy French,” “Daisies,” “Eagle Beach” and its title track. 2015’s White Reaper Does It Again spawned fan-favorites like “Make Me Wanna Die” and “Sheila,” as they crafted their now well-renowned sound

Wee Tam and the Big Huge was the fourth album by this Scottish psychedelic folk group, the Incredible String Band, It was released in Europe as both a double LP and separate single LPs in November 1968 by Elektra Records. In the US, however, the two discs were released separately as Wee Tam and The Big Huge

The album title imagined a friend of the band (Wee Tam) contemplating the vastness of the universe (the Big Huge) and the work was hallmarked by a vast array of stringed and other instruments from around the globe. The songs were written by Williamson or Heron, always individually. Both men had quite disparate styles. Heron largely embraced a warm, simplistic celebration of the natural world, while Williamson’s lyrics were full of mythical wonder, with imagery raided from paganism.

Heron’s tunes had immediacy. Williamson’s took more getting to know. Yet, their voices work so well together. Their instrumental playing is at times inspired, and the way they blend vocals and instrumentation allows two different souls to become one. As much as the playing shimmered with virtuosity, there was also a coy, amateurish side to the band,

originally released as two separate albums in 1968, Wee Tam& the Big Huge were audacious then and still monumental now. these were, in effect, the Incredible String Band’s fourth and fifth albums; their debut had appeared just two years prior. the band expanded their base with more stringed instruments from around the world, and increased the song length. more than half the songs are over five minutes in length to accommodate the band’s exploration of folkish moods and mysticism. Mike Heron’s “Log Cabin in the Sky” is a classic by any measure, and Robin Williamson’s “The Half-Remarkable Question” shows him in full command of a deeply anchored musical sensibility. the whole set feels like a continuous piece, with the songs rolling into one another with graceful ease.

Wee Tam is arguably the more accessible disc with notable highlights, The colorful and optimistic “You Get Brighter”, and the atmospheric “Air”. It’s a precursor for the brilliance of the Big Huge where Williamson’s creative touch dominates. The second disc starts with the wondrous epic “Maya”, which is sheer poetry and imagination set to vibrant music. The song ends with the sentiment that humanity creates a “troubled voyage in calm weather.” The overriding sense is that there is little wrong with the natural world and it is man who must find his place and learn to live in peace with the earth and his fellow occupiers.

Another peak is the mystic-poetic “The Iron Stone”, a slow-burn exploration, which suddenly morphs into the hippy equivalent of rap as “love paints the cart with suns for wheels” and ends in a wonderful instrumental melange with Heron’s sitar dueling with Williamson’s guitar. It’s sheer brilliance, and you feel exhausted and exhilarated afterward. Mind you, Heron manages to outdo his band mate with weirdness on this side of the album, with the impermeable “Douglas Traherne Harding”.

The real joy of Wee Tam and the Big Huge is that it takes you to places few albums have or will. It is nature’s roller coaster ride. It’s green before its time, haunting and plaintiff, spiritual and uplifting, funny and sad, baffling and informed, and it should be in everyone’s record collection, preferably on vinyl.

Originally a trio, the ISB were signed by legendary producer Jo Boyd. After seeing them at Clive’s Incredible Folk Club, a small venue in Glasgow’s famous Saucihall Street Boyd placed them on the Elektra label. The band released their seminal fourth album, Wee Tam and the Big Hugein 1968. A double album, no less, which was far out, as was the way the lyrics appeared unconventionally on the album covers, rather than inside. The typography and how initial letters of each song lyric were illustrated in a Book of Hours style. The inside spread was occupied by two pure flower-power portraits of Williamson and Heron together.

Willamson and Heron were the epitome of experimentation, free spirit, weirdness, beauty, and truth.

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Brandi Carlile, By The Way, I Forgive You

The songs on Brandi Carlile’s By The Way, I Forgive You have a lot of love in them. Carlile isn’t writing silly little love songs, though; these are songs with depth and empathy that unpack weighty topics like the current political climate, immigrant and refugee rights, the opioid epidemic, family dynamics and the idea that forgiveness is inherently radical. What is also radical is the singing, harmonies and emotional depth Carlile — and her longtime bandmates, Phil and Tim Hanseroth  achieve on these songs.

A tireless activist, Carlile cares deeply about addressing social injustices and the role art and music play in effecting change. But she’s never overbearing; instead, her songwriting allows you to enjoy the complexities of her narratives. It’s music with a message, and during messed-up, troubled times like these, music with meaning music that has something to say, that inspires, motivates, comforts and provides hope resonates so much more for me. That’s something we could all use more of along with, by the way, forgiveness.

Brandi Carlile  is back with her best album since The Story, and maybe her best yet. By the Way, I Forgive You features cover art by one of the Avett brothers, photography by Pete Souza , string arrangements by the late, legendary Paul Buckmaster, and production by Shooter Jennings and country producer du jour Dave Cobb. That Carlile remains the center of gravity in this star-studded universe is a testament to her considerable talents. Here she ably navigates a batch of songs that range from folk, country and blues to symphonic pop and rock pieces that would sound at home on a Broadway stage. No matter the backdrop, Carlile sounds completely in control.

From the album “By The Way, I Forgive You” available now:

What’s Shakin is a compilation album released by Elektra Records in June 1966. It features the earliest studio recordings by the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, as well as the only released recordings by the ad hoc studio super-group Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse, until they were reissued years later.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Elektra was one of the best-known American folk music record labels. However, by 1964–1965, it decided to test the waters with unknown electric, rock-oriented artists. Among the first such groups signed were the Paul Butterfield Blues Band from Chicago and Arthur Lee’s Love from Los Angeles. Elektra wanted the Lovin’ Spoonful and recorded several songs by the group, however they were signed to Kama Sutra Records.

Elektra Records had released several successful “sampler” compilation albums, including The Blues Project in 1964 and Folksong ’65. Some suggest What’s Shakin started as The Electric Blues Project, a follow-up to the 1964 compilation;  however, Elektra founder Jac Holzman has stated “it was simply unreleased material that was available to us”.

Shortly after signing with Elektra, Paul Butterfield and band recorded an album’s worth of songs which producer Paul A. Rothchild felt did not live up to the band’s potential. Five of these tracks were chosen for What’s Shakin’ . Four songs, representing the earliest recordings by the Lovin’ Spoonful, as well as one song each by Al Kooper and Tom Rush, were also included.

The only songs recorded specifically for the album were by a studio group dubbed Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse. Joe Boyd, who had been sent to London to open a field office for Elektra, was tasked with finding a suitable band for his first assignment.  Boyd approached Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones and suggested that they put one together. Jones, who played harmonica and sang harmony, brought Manfred Mann bandmate Jack Bruce on bass, Steve Winwood on vocals and Peter York on drums (both from the Spencer Davis Group), Eric Clapton on guitar (from John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers), and Ben Palmer, a blues pianist friend of Jones and Clapton. Ginger Baker was suggested as the drummer, but he declined or was unavailable. The recording sessions took place in March 1966. Bruce later commented, “There were no thoughts of making a band at that time, but it probably helped to make the Cream thing happen.”  By June, he, Baker, and Clapton began rehearsing and became Cream .

our songs were recorded by the Powerhouse. Jones chose “I Want to Know” (his own composition, although credited to his wife, Sheila MacLeod) and Winwood selected “Steppin’ Out”. According to Boyd, Clapton wanted to record Albert King’s “Crosscut Saw”, but Boyd suggested “Standing at the Crossroads” (a version of Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues” recorded by Elmore James); Clapton then suggested Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues”. Finally, a new arrangement of “Crossroads” was recorded using lyrics from both of the Johnson songs. A fourth song, described as a slow blues, was also recorded, but remains unreleased.

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Warren Zevon’s final album and fifth album for Elektra Records, “The Envoy”, delivered another dose of the edgy intelligence and sardonic humor that were the singer-songwriter’s trademarks. Recorded with such top session players as guitarist Waddy Wachtel and bassist Leland Sklar along with famed session drummer Jeff Porcaro, along with famous friends including Lindsey Buckingham, Don Henley and Graham Nash, the performances are as sharp as the lyrics on these nine originals. Drug dealers (“Charlie’s Medicine”)  is a chilling requiem for a drug dealer who used to sell him dope, “Jesus Mentioned” is a spare but curiously moving meditation on the death of Elvis Presley  , who “went walking on the water with his pills,” and the ragged but right “Ain’t That Pretty at All” is an unlikely but powerful recovery anthem in which he howls “I’d rather feel bad than not feel anything at all.” , all are among the many fascinating characters featured in these songs- and perhaps stand-ins for personal demons – peopling the 1982 collection. “The Envoy” was released 35 years ago this month, and it’s an excellent reminder of how much Warren Zevon’s distinctive voice is missed these days.

The album was released on July 16th, 1982, by Asylum Records. The album’s lack of commercial success caused Zevon’s label to terminate his recording contract, a fact that Zevon discovered only after reading about it in Rolling Stone magazine.

Television, St.Marks Place NYC 1977 L to R: Billy Ficca, Tom Verlaine, Fred Smith, Richard Lloyd

Released on February 8th in 1977: New York CBGB’s-scene band Television released one of rock’s all-time most influential guitar albums, ‘Marquee Moon’, on Elektra Records; made up of tense garage rockers that spiral into heady intellectual territory, the band fused blues structures with avant-garde flourishes while stripping away any sense of swing or groove; led by the 10:40 title track, the dual guitar work of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd abandoned power chords in favor of almost jazz-like interplay, melodic lines & counter-melodies; it was crucial to the development of the post punk scene that followed; though critically-acclaimed at the time of release, it was not a commercial success – it is now widely regarded as one of the greatest & most influential statements in the history of alternative rock music…As founding fathers of the ’70s New York City underground rock scene, among the first bands who played CBGB, Television found themselves sticking out even among the out crowd.

Television delivered a tangled, serpentine guitar spar over Marquee Moon‘s eight sprawling songs, and in twice the length of your conventional punk album, the final running time coming in at 46 minutes (and more than 10 of those minutes are reserved for the title track alone).

While that all might sound like a formula for an esoteric mess, guitarist/frontman Tom Verlaine, his six-string foil Richard Lloyd, and the indomitable rhythm section of Fred Smith on bass and Billy Ficca on drums could just as easily write catchy songs. The album’s longest track, its title cut, comes across as a sort of sonic response to Verlaine’s old girlfriend Patti Smith and her 1975 solo debut masterpiece Horses in its patterns and rhythms.

The band chose acclaimed English engineer Andy Johns to produce the album on account of his work on such early-’70s classics as Mott The Hoople’s Brain Capers and the Stones “Goats Head Soup” . However a lifestyle clash with Johns and Television produced studio tension from the outset. Once they got on the same page, Johns and Television created a literal master’s class in the kind of crisp yet sharp production that enhanced the angularity of their rhythms without losing their sense of melody and pop appeal.

“We wanted to rent a rotating speaker to get the sound for [‘Elevation’],” Lloyd explained. “But the rental people wanted way too much. So Andy came up with an idea. He took a microphone, and while I did the guitar solo to ‘Elevation,’ he stood in front of me in the studio, swinging this microphone around his head like a lasso. He nearly took my fucking nose off. I was backing up while I was playing.”

The risks Johns and the band took in the studio paid off. Marquee Moon became an iconic record for its mythical, godlike status amongst both music critics and young musicians, a select few of whom would go on to form bands

The Doors 1967 self-titled debut would soon make the band immortal, thanks to songs like “Break on Through (to the Other Side),” “The End” and the immortal “Light My Fire.”

With the new ‘London Fog 1966’ box set out, Robby Krieger and John Densmore look back at their debut release.

Fresh from their gig as the house band at the Sunset Strip’s Whisky a Go Go – where they were fired for performing a profanity-laced riff on Oedipus Rex during “The End” – poet/vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore spent a week at Sunset Sound Recorders documenting the act that had vaulted them to the top of the Los Angeles scene in less than a year. “The first album is basically the Doors live,” Manzarek says in the documentary Classic Albums: The Doors. “There are very few overdubs. It’s ‘The Doors: Live from the Whisky a Go Go’ … except in a recording studio.”

The Doors captured for eternity the raw, vital, hypnotic excitement of four fearless artists. In honor of the album’s 50th anniversary, here are 10 little-known facts about the record’s conception and reception.

“Light My Fire” was the first song Robby Krieger ever wrote.

The Doors‘ guitarist may have had the greatest beginner’s luck in rock history. Having never completed a song, the 20-year-old composed “Light My Fire,” the Number One smash that continues to evoke the Summer of Love’s sensual heat.
“That was the first one I wrote, because up until then Jim had been writing the songs,” he told Reverb Magazine in 2016. “But we realized we didn’t have enough originals, so Jim said, ‘Why don’t you write some? Why do I have to do all the work!?’ So I said, ‘OK, what should I write about?’ And he goes, ‘Write about something universal. Write about something that will last, not just about today.’ So I decided I’d write about [either] earth, air, fire or water.” Citing “Play With Fire” as one of his favorite Rolling Stones songs, he settled on fire.
Krieger labored over the song for several days, determined to conjure up something more than a standard rock progression. “Up until then the Doors were doing three-chord type songs that were pretty simple, like ‘I Looked at You’ or ‘End of the Night.'” he told Clash Music. “I wanted to write something more adventurous. I decided I was going to put every chord I knew into this song – and I did! There’s about 14 different chords in there.” For a melody, he looked to “Hey Joe,” then a recent hit for Los Angeles band the Leaves.
With a verse and chorus under his belt, he brought the work-in-progress before his bandmates. The song had a folk-rock flair in this early state, leading some in the group to derisively compare it to a Sonny and Cher number. But Morrison saw its potential and offered to contribute some extra lyrics. “Jim came up with the second verse about the funeral pyre,” Kreiger remembered in Classic Albums. “I said, ‘Jim, why is it always about death? Why do you always have to do that?’ And he said, ‘No man, it’ll be perfect. You’ll have the love part of it and then you’ll have that death part of it.’ And he was right.”
Manzarek added the cartwheeling Bach-like introduction and bass line (borrowed from Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill”) while Densmore lent the Latin rhythm. When it was released the following year, the song would be jointly credited to the Doors.

The Doors [Explicit]
Before recording their debut, the Doors provided backing music to a Ford Motor Company training film.

In the early spring of 1966, the Doors‘ were dropped from a preliminary Columbia Records contract with little warning – and little to show for it. Lacking representation and struggling financially, the band took an unglamorous gig at Parthenon Pictures providing incidental music for a Ford Motor Company customer service training film titled Love Thy Customer.

The Doors piled into a cramped screening room at Los Angeles’ Rampart Studios, where they viewed the 25-minute clip on a small monitor. They composed a soundtrack largely on the spot, jamming live as the scenes flickered past. Fragments of what later became “I Looked at You,” “Build Me a Woman,” and “The Soft Parade” can be heard in the finished product. Though they played only instrumental passages, Morrison is said to have contributed percussion and additional sound effects. The day of work earned them $200.

Believed to be lost for decades, Love Thy Customer was discovered in the UCLA film vaults in 2002 and released on the 2014 Doors rarities DVD R-Evolution. However, the original soundtrack session tapes have yet to be located.

“Break on Through (to the Other Side)” owes a large debt to a Paul Butterfield Blues Band song, and Ray Charles’ song “What’d I Say.”

“If it hadn’t been for Butterfield going electric, I probably wouldn’t have gone into rock & roll,” Robby Krieger recently admitted on his website. The Doors guitarist spent his early years emulating flamenco masters like Mario Escudero, Carlos Montoya, and Sabicas before moving into the blues. From there he discovered the raw Chicago sound of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, bolstered by the searing twin guitars of Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop. Their work would have a marked influence on his playing style, particularly on the track “Break on Through (to the Other Side).”
When the Doors began arranging the Morrison composition, Krieger found a familiar line falling out of his guitar. “I got the idea for the riff from the Paul Butterfield song ‘Shake Your Money-Maker,’ which was one of my favorites,” he says in Classic Albums. “We just changed the beat around.” The Butterfield version of the song – first recorded by Elmore James in 1961 – was a track off their self-titled 1965 debut, produced by future Doors collaborator Paul Rothchild.
In the same documentary Manzarek also demonstrates how he lifted the keyboard bass line from Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” as well as elements of his organ solo. “We’d steal from anybody!”
The first two songs they recorded were shelved, but alternate versions surfaced on future Doors albums.

“Moonlight Drive” is the quintessential Doors song: bluesy, nocturnal and dripping with doomed romanticism. The bewitching combination provided the spark that led to the band’s creation in July 1965, when Morrison and Manzarek, former classmates at UCLA’s film school, bumped into each other on the sands of Venice Beach.
The friends hadn’t seen each other since graduating that spring, and it was a welcome reunion. “I said, ‘Well, what have you been up to?'” Manzarek told NPR’s Fresh Air in 1998. “And he said, ‘Well, I’ve been living up on Dennis Jacobs’ rooftop, consuming a bit of LSD and writing songs.'” After some convincing, he persuaded the then shy Morrison to sing him one.
“He sat down on the beach, dug his hands into the sand, and the sand started streaming out in little rivulets. He kind of closed his eyes, and began to sing in a Chet Baker, haunted whisper kind of voice. He began to sing ‘Moonlight Drive,‘ and when I heard that first stanza ‘Let’s swim to the moon, let’s climb through the tide, penetrate the evening that the city sleeps to hide’  I thought ‘Ooh, spooky and cool, man.'” At that moment, together they decided to start a rock band.
The song featured prominently in the nascent Doors’ early sets, and was even included on a demo recorded that September at Trans World Pacific Studios. Krieger had yet to join the band Manzarek’s brothers Jim and Rick handled guitar and harmonica parts. When the four Doors finally members came together, rehearsing at a friend’s garage behind a Santa Monica bus depot, “Moonlight Drive” was the first number they played.
“I knew instantly we had found ‘it,’ that indefinable, transcendent something that Kerouac refers to,” Manzarek told Gibson.com in 2011. “We all looked at each other and went, ‘Man, what have we just done? Oh, my. Are we allowed to do that on this planet?’ That was it. ‘Moonlight Drive.’ At that point, everybody knew. We all just sort of nodded our heads and that was it. That was the birth of the Doors. Right there.”
When the band convened in Sunset Sound studios to record the The Doors in August 1966, “Moonlight Drive” seemed like an appropriate starting point. “When we went to record the first album, the first one we did was ‘Moonlight Drive,'” Krieger told People in 2016. But inhibited by the unfamiliar studio setting, they were unable to recapture the magic of their first rehearsal. “It just sounded too mysterious and kind of dark. So we rearranged it for the second album [1967’s Strange Days] and made it a little more wild.” The original version, which Krieger dubs “the very first recording we ever did as the Doors,” was shelved and lost for a time, before surfacing on a box set in 1997.

The second song they worked on that day, “Indian Summer,” also failed to make the cut. “It wasn’t that we thought they weren’t good enough for the first album, but we had to pick and choose,” says Krieger. “A lot of good ones didn’t make it.” A re-recorded version would be included on 1970’s Morrison Hotel.

After recording “The End,” Jim Morrison returned to the studio on LSD and hosed the band’s equipment with a fire extinguisher.

“The End” was the Doors’ showstopper, an extended tour de force that blurred the lines between music and theater. The piece was especially exhausting for Morrison, who delivered a lengthy mid-song poem inspired by the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex. Performing “The End” before a live audience was enough of a challenge, but summoning the energy in a sterile recording studio took considerable effort on the part of the band, producer Paul Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick.

“The lights had been dimmed and the candles were burning right next to Jim, whose back was to the control room,” Rothchild remembers in Stephen Davis’ Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend. “The only other illumination came from the lights on the VU meters. The studio was very dark.” To further set the mood, Morrison apparently took a tab of LSD.

At first the hallucinogen had an overall positive effect on the performance, but during the playback it became apparent that Morrison was, by Krieger’s estimation, “too high to continue the session.” Three of the Doors decided to continue work the following day. Morrison had a different idea.

“He trashed the studio after we did ‘The End,'” Krieger told author Mick Houghton. “Jim was on a lot of acid, and when we finished recording, he didn’t want to go home. The rest of us left, but he snuck back into the studio and got pissed off that there was no one else around, so he sprayed the place down with a foaming fire extinguisher.”

Botnick elaborates on the episode in Mick Wall’s Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre. “[Jim had] gone across the street to the Blessed Sacrament, a Catholic Church, and he had an epiphany over there. He came back to the studio and the gate was locked. He climbed over the gate, got in, but he couldn’t get into the control room. That was locked. But the studio was open and the red lights were on.” The red-hued work lights seemingly registered as a fire in Morrison’s psychedelicized brain. “He thought it was on fire, so he grabbed a fire extinguisher and knocked over the ashtrays that were full of sand and tried to put out the fire.”

Manzarek recalled the story slightly differently. In his memoir, Light My Fire, he claims that Morrison began ranting about a fire while being driven home from the studio by his girlfriend, Pamela Courson. He was so persistent that Courson reluctantly returned to the studio, and Morrison immediately bounded over the fence. “He took the fire extinguisher and hosed the whole place down,” Manzarek told Houghton. “Not in the control room, thank God, just in the area where the band was … just blasted the whole place man, just to cool it down.” Much of the band’s equipment was ruined, including a full sized harpsichord.

The following day, a single boot, belonging to Morrison, was found among the destruction. “The studio people just absolutely freaked,” says Manzarek. “Paul [Rothchild] said, ‘Uh, don’t worry, don’t worry, Elektra will pay for it. No reason to call the police.’ He knew right away who did it, you know. We all knew right away what had happened.” The only one who claimed ignorance was, predictably, Morrison himself. “I did that? Come on, really?” Densmore recalls him saying over breakfast the next day.

Elektra head Jac Holzman immediately cut a very large check to studio owner Tutti Camarata. “I rushed over and said, ‘I agree, it’s out of control. I’ll pay for the damages,” he told Mojo. The incident was smoothed over, but Krieger felt the moment marked a turning point in Morrison’s psyche. “I thought Jim [felt], ‘Well, I got away with that, I can get away with anything.”

The Doors used a secret bass player in the studio – Wrecking Crew session legend and future Bread member Larry Knetchel.

Instead of a bassist, the Doors famously relied on Ray Manzarek’s left hand to hold down the low end with a Fender Rhodes Piano Bass keyboard. The role originally fell to him out of necessity when the band first began to coalesce. “We auditioned quite a few bass players,” he recalled in the Classic Albums documentary. “We auditioned one bass player and we sounded like the Rolling Stones. Then we auditioned another bass player and we sounded like the Animals.” Unwilling to come across as imitators – or, worse yet, traditional – the Doors simply did without. “Adding a bass made us sound like every other rock & roll band,” Densmore wrote in his memoir, Riders on the Storm. “We were determined to do almost anything to sound different.”

The absence of a bassist became a crucial element of the Doors live sound, but Rothchild felt that the recordings needed a stronger bass attack than the occasionally “mushy” Rhodes could provide. He quietly hired Larry Knechtel, of the ubiquitous gang of Los Angeles session players known as the Wrecking Crew, to thicken the sound. Knechtel had already appeared on hits by the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and the Byrds by the time he was booked to overdub bass lines on six of the record’s 11 tracks, including “Light My Fire” and the swaggering “Soul Kitchen.”

Knechtel’s work on The Doors went uncredited at the time, and it was years before the extent of his contributions were known. Some criticized the band for seemingly airbrushing the player out of the Doors‘ story, but Densmore clarifed the decision in a 2015 Facebook post. “Larry Knechtel wasn’t credited because he duplicated Ray’s left hand bass lines exactly. He didn’t record with us on the tracks, he overdubbed later. This was a time before Moog synthesizers, and Rothchild felt (correctly) that Ray’s lines needed more sonic punch from a string plucked in addition to a keyboard.”

Knechtel would not play on any future Doors sessions, but he did reportedly record bass on Jose Feliciano’s flamenco version of “Light My Fire,” which became a Number Three hit in the United States in 1968.

To promote the album, Elektra Records purchased the first “rock billboard” in history.
Sessions for The Doors were complete by the end of the summer, but Holzman decided to hold the album’s release until the following January to avoid the crush of albums earmarked for the Christmas market. If the band were disappointed by the delay, they were soothed by Holzman’s ingenious promotional scheme: a massive billboard looming over the Sunset Strip. The medium had traditionally been used to push films, food, cigarettes and a host of other products, and this was the first time a rock band would appear on one.

“BREAK ON THROUGH WITH AN ELECTRIFYING NEW ALBUM,” proclaimed the ad, complete with Joel Brodsky’s arresting image of the group that graced the sleeve’s back cover. Located next to the Chateau Marmont, a short distance from the club scene where the Doors cut their teeth just a year earlier, the prime location cost a whopping $1,200 a month. The venture was, according to Holzman, “a calling card for the artist, but it was a very large calling card.” He believed the ad would catch the attention of Los Angeles DJs on their way to work and piqué their interest. He was right, giving birth to a whole new field of artist promotion. Rock billboards would soon dot the Strip and beyond.

According to Densmore, the extravagance earned the band some good-natured ribbing. “Radio broadcaster Bill Erwin had interviewed us at the new billboard, and was teasing us about the ad,” he writes in Riders on the Storm. “‘This is kind of a strange way of using a billboard, guys. I mean, you really can’t hear a billboard. And nobody’s heard of the Doors yet.'”

Jim Morrison falsely claimed that his parents were dead in the press bio that accompanied the album.

The infamous “Father, I want to kill you,” passage from “The End” was inspired by Oedipus, but the theme had a personal resonance for Morrison. His complex relationship with authoritarian parents precipitated the inner turmoil that characterized his adult life, inspiring both his finest music and his madness.

On the rare occasions that Morrison spoke of his childhood, he described it as “an open sore” – painful and best kept under wraps. His father, George Stephen Morrison, was a high-ranking career naval officer. It was he who gave Morrison the middle name “Douglas” after General Douglas MacArthur, in hopes that his son would follow in his footsteps. On that score, he would be severely disappointed.

The family moved often, and Morrison’s father was frequently absent on tours of duty. When he was home, he had little patience for youthful disobedience. Though Morrison’s younger brother Andy tells author Jerry Hopkins that he, Jim and sister Anne rarely received physical discipline, he says they were routinely subjected to the military punishment known as “dressing down,” wherein the culprit would be berated into submissive tears.

Ultimately promoted to Rear Admiral, Morrison’s father was something of a military Zelig. In 1941 he witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Two decades later, aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard aircraft carrier, he commanded American naval forces during the Gulf of Tonkin incident, a military clash that led to a dramatic escalation of the war in Vietnam. He was a familiar face around Cape Canaveral, the Pentagon and the Naval Golf Course.

After learning of his son’s desire to become a rock singer, the elder Morrison wrote a letter urging him “to give up any idea of singing or any connection with a music group because of what I consider to be a complete lack of talent in this direction.” Morrison effectively severed all contact with his father thereafter, and they never saw one another again. “His reluctance to communicate with me again is to me quite understandable,” Admiral Morrison admitted privately in 1970.

When Elektra approached the Doors to pen press bios for their debut album, Jim took the opportunity to edit his own history. Asked to name his parents and siblings, he simply wrote, “Deceased.” For a time, even his close friends believed him to be an orphan.

Morrison’s split from him family was total; they didn’t even realize he was in a band. His brother Andy only found out when a classmate showed him the Doors album cover and pointed out his resemblance to the lead singer. “A friend of mine brought me the album,” he told Hopkins. “I’d been listening to ‘Light My Fire’ for months and didn’t know. That’s how we found out. We hadn’t seen Jim or heard from him in two years. I played the album for my parents the day I got it, the day after my friend told me about it. Dad knows music. He plays piano and clarinet. Dad likes strong melody. He hates electric guitars. He likes the old ballads. He doesn’t like rock. He listened to the album and afterwards he didn’t say a thing. Not a thing.”

Morrison’s mother Clara made attempts to contact him through Elektra Records, but the newly minted rock star kept her at arms length. He barred her from visiting him backstage during a gig in Washington, D.C., but did give her a front row seat for the concert. Those in attendance later said that the Oedipal section in “The End” packed an extra strong punch that night.

Throughout the band’s travels, Morrison managed to keep in touch with Andy, who was just 19 in 1967. “I told him that mom felt really bad when he refused to see her. He told me if he called once, they’d expect calls every month or so. He said, ‘Either you break it, or you’re part of the family – there’s no halfway point. Either you talk all the time, or not at all.'” Morrison chose not at all.

Admiral Morrison declined to speak publicly about his son until the end of his life. “We look back on him with great delight,” he said in Tom DiCillo’s documentary When You’re Strange, taped just before his death in 2008. “I had the feeling that he felt we’d just as soon not be associated with his career. He knew I didn’t think rock music was the best goal for him. Maybe he was trying to protect us.”

Densmore proposed another reason in his memoir. “Personally, I think the opposite is true, that Jim did it to proclaim independence and cut the umbilical cord once and for all.”

The word “high” caused several headaches for the band.

The Doors’ September 17th, 1967, appearance on the The Ed Sullivan Show infamously resulted in a lifetime ban after Morrison disobeyed the CBS Standards and Practices department and sang the original lyric to “Light My Fire” – “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” – instead of their decidedly lackluster suggestion/demand: “Girl, we couldn’t get much better.” Producers and network executives were infuriated, and a stone-faced Sullivan denied Morrison the traditional post-performance handshake, instead cutting straight to a commercial for Purina Dog Chow.

The band was unbothered by the incident. “They said, ‘You’ll never do this show again!'” recalled Densmore in the Classic Albums documentary. “And we said, ‘Well, we just did it. We only wanted to do it once. Cheers!'”

An earlier attempt at censorship had been more successful. “Break on Through (to the Other Side),” the opening track on The Doors, seemed like an obvious choice for the band’s first single. But Rothchild was concerned that the song’s “She get high” refrain would limit its airplay potential. “He said, ‘You know, we’re not going to be able to get this played, so we really should cut that out,'” Densmore told Forbes in 2015. “We reluctantly agreed.” The offending line was edited down to a repeated “She get!” followed by Morrison’s guttural wail.

Though lyrically meaningless, the abrupt passage became a familiar part of the song. When Botnick restored the missing “high” as part of the 1999 remaster of The Doors, some rock purists were outraged.

The Doors minus Morrison agreed to license “Light My Fire” for a Buick ad. When Morrison found out, he threatened to smash a Buick during every Doors concert.
After the band’s 1968 European tour concluded in Sweden on September 20th, Morrison decided to stay in London with girlfriend Pamela Courson and work on his poetry under the encouraging guidance of writer Michael McClure. It seemed like a great plan, except for the fact that his bandmates knew next to nothing about it. This proved problematic when representatives from Buick contacted the Doors, offering them $75,000 to license “Light My Fire” for an ad campaign featuring the memorable slogan, “Come on Buick, light my fire!”

“I thought it was an interesting idea,” Manzarek later told Patricia Butler and Jerry Hopkins in their book Angels Dance and Angels Die: The Tragic Romance of Pamela and Jim Morrison. “The car they wanted to use it for was the Opel, a small little ecologically correct car, a little four-cylinder, two-seater automobile they worked on with the German Opel company. It wasn’t obviously a big Buick or anything like that.” (Some reports claim the vehicle in question was the less-than-eco-friendly Gran Sports GS455.)

The Doors had always vowed to split both profits and decisions equally, but Morrison was out of contact and Buick needed an answer. “Jim left town and didn’t show any of us the respect to tell us that he was leaving, how long he would be gone, when he was coming home – he just disappeared,” the band’s road manager, Bill Siddons, told Butler and Hopkins. “So Buick came up, offered us a bunch of money, unheard-of money, to do something with a song that Robby wrote, and they all kind of went, ‘Well, gee. We’d really like to have have Jim’s vote here, but it’s a lot of money and it’s really big and could be important, so fuck it, let’s go!” Lawyer Max Fink held Morrison’s power of attorney, and inked the deal along with the three other Doors.

Morrison was apoplectic when he learned of the decision after returning home that November. “Jim told us he couldn’t trust us anymore,” Densmore told Rolling Stone in 2013. “We had agreed that we would never use our music in any commercial, but the money Buick offered us had been hard to refuse. Jim accused us of making a deal with the devil and said he would smash a Buick with a sledgehammer onstage if we let them [change the lyrics].”

One apocryphal story has Morrison angrily ramming 16 Buicks parked on the Sunset Strip, totaling his own Porsche in the process. True or not, he vociferously expressed his frustrations to Siddons, Holzman and others in the band’s management, demanding that the contract be rescinded. “They couldn’t take it back, they’d already agreed to it,” says Siddons. An elaborate radio, television and print campaign was already underway, including a billboard within sight of the Doors‘ offices.

But it came to nothing. In the end, Buick scrapped the concept. They claimed that they merely decided to go in a different creative direction, but perhaps a few words with an enraged Lizard King set them off the idea. Whatever the reason, the Buick incident irreparably damaged the brotherhood of the Doors. “That was the end of the dream,” says Siddons. “That was the end of that era of Jim’s relationship with the other members of the band; from then on it was business. That was the day Jim said, ‘I don’t have partners anymore; I have associates.'”

The Whisky a Go-Go was The Doors goal when they were the house band at the London Fog. Even though the London Fog was only a half a block away from the prestigious Whisky a Go-Go it didn’t have the same reputation or clientele as The Whisky. The Fog was a hole in the wall club that didn’t even get the Whisky’s run-off business but drunken sailors and people looking for a Sunset Strip hotspot which they quickly discovered the Fog was not. The Doors played there to small or nonexistent audiences, but it afforded them the chance to work on their original songs and get paid for it (as little as that was). It was at the London Fog The Doors improvised, improved and lengthened songs like “Light My Fire,” “When the Music’s Over,” and “The End”. Soon they came to the attention of Ronnie Haran, the booker at the Whisky.

In between sets at the London Fog The Doors would run over to the Whisky to catch whatever band was playing there, and Jim Morrison would talk up Haran until she agreed to come over to the Fog to see them play. Haran was smitten with Morrison and soon she was recommending them to the Whisky’s owner Elmer Valentine (other owners included Mario Maglieri, and Phil Tanzini). The Doors were a hard sell to Valentine. He thought Jim Morrison was an amateur who was posing to cover up for his lack of talent, and he didn’t like Morrison’s use of foul language. Haran prevailed, or maybe wore Valentine down, and on or about, May 9th, 1966 (the exact date is unknown), The Doors auditioned at The Whisky, and Valentine was impressed enough to book them, but still wary enough to offer only a one week booking.

The Doors started their one week appearance at The Whisky on May 16th, 1966. During that week there were no incidents that raised alarms for Valentine so he offered The Doors the position of being the house band at The Whisky. On May 23 The Doors started as The Whisky’s house band. This appearance started their ascension into the world of the Sunset Strip and eventually catapulted them into legendary status on the strip and into a recording contract with Elektra Records.

The Whisky represented success to The Doors. Jim Morrison later said in an interview that at one time that their goal was to be as big as Love, the house band at The Whisky while The Doors were still doing their journeyman work at the London Fog. The Whisky not only gave the band access to a greater audience, and a higher profile on the Sunset Strip but also gave them the opportunity to play with established bands such as Them, Buffalo Springfield, Captain Beefheart, and The Animals. Their goal was “to blow the other bands off the stage.”

The Doors tenure at The Whisky would be short, lasting only until August 21, 1966 when Jim Morrison performed “The End” adding in the Oedipal section for the first time, which probably exceeded Valentine’s worst fears of Morrison’s swearing onstage, Valentine fired the band vowing The Doors would never play The Whisky again.

Although The Doors were fired Morrison adding the Oedipal section into “The End” and performing it onstage launched them into legendary status on the Sunset Strip. Luckily, previously to being fired Elektra Records owner Jac Holzman, on the recommendation of Love’s Arthur Lee had seen The Doors and liked them enough to offer them a recording contract

Despite Valentine swearing The Doors would never play The Whisky again, they do. Almost a year to the day later of starting as the house band at The Whisky The Doors played The Whisky for the last time May 21st, 1967, just as “Light My Fire” starts getting airplay as a single.

Note: In the video above the version of “Light My Fire” is attributed to being from the Whisky a Go-Go but there doesn’t seem to be any known recordings of The Doors at The Whisky. I used the video because it gives the viewer a feel for what L.A. and The Whisky were like in 1966.

The Stooges debut album from 1969 didn’t even crack the Top 100 album chart, so it wasn’t like too many people were waiting for the follow-up. Which was just fine. Without expectations, the band was free to explore almost any path it wanted to on the follow up  “Fun House”The Stooges (1970): Here’s where the first seeds of punk sprung, and with such force that ‘Fun House’ still sounds fresh. The funny part? Iggy Pop says he drew inspiration not from fellow modernists like MC5, but from Chicago blues master Howlin’ Wolf.


Still, their record company had faith in them and the Stooges were slowly picking up fans with their plugged-in, distortion-overloaded brand of scuzzy garage rock. So the second album, while maybe not as anticipated as some of the other post-hippie records that were starting to trickle out around the same time, was still under the watchful eye of the band’s bosses.

The label enlisted former Kingsmen keyboardist Don Gallucci to run the sessions, which were already booked for a two-week period in the middle of May 1970 in Los Angeles. And like former Velvet Underground member John Cale, who produced the Stooges’ self-titled debut, Gallucci realized that the group’s proto-punk attack wasn’t easily captured on tape. So he did what he figured was the most sensible thing: He had the band play the handful of new songs it had written for the album a dozen times each, sorting through them later to pick out the most usable version.

Not that that made things any easier. As anyone who’s heard Fun House in the years since its release in July 1970 (or especially the seven-disc, 1999 box set 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions) can tell you, the record is one of the most abrasive, pummeling and aggressive sonic assaults ever made. Capturing that on tape, and then settling on a definitive version, must have been no easy task.

But because the Stooges really had almost nothing to lose — their debut made little to no impression in mainstream circles they pretty much recorded Fun House the way they played live with their amps cranked to full power, band members huddled together in one room, singer Iggy Pop recreating his stage show in the studio.

The result is one of the most primal and unhinged albums ever made. Saxophone player Steve Mackay, a temporary addition to the band who also came from the Stooges’ hometown of Detroit, blurts his way through songs in an acid-damaged take on free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman’s improvised soloing, pushing Fun House into a sort of avant-jazz proto-punk garage scuzz-rock genre all its own.

From the opening smackdown combo “Down on the Street” , The Stooges could groove with the best of ’em as ‘Down On The Street’ proudly proves. The opening track on the band’s 1970 classic ‘Funhouse’ is hard, loud and heavy for sure, but that rhythm section of Scott Asheton and Dave Alexander drive this thing home. Ron Asheton’s guitar is brutal, while Iggy is in full force here. The song was released as a single, with added organ that, while adding a cool spice to the mix, ultimately cluttered the song. Pure bravado like this needs no extra ingredients.

“Loose” How many different ways can we say ‘sex,’ ‘danger,’ when talking about the Stooges? This is not music for the faint of heart, or the lame of mind. It’s gutturally cerebral, or was that cerebrally guttural? Either way you slice the cake, it oozes the same tasty slime to bathe in. Bring your unhinged self and immerse in the glory of it all. When Iggy sings, “Now I’m putting it to you straight from hell,” he ain’t kidding, and when he sings, “I’ll stick it deep inside,” well, we’ll leave that one up to you.

“T.V. Eye” “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence, the word and the act.” One of the most righteous screams ever opens this barn burner. The guitar riff from the heavens above pummels into the brain as the onslaught builds. The whole song sounds like a riotous street fight as guitars slash like razors, drums splatter like machine gun fire, and Iggy screeches like a Molotov cocktail.

The closing “L.A. Blues,” probably the most unstructured song released by a major label during the first half of the ’70s,  “Fun House” is a mess of sloppy guitar riffs, thrashing drums, larynx-shredding screams and saxophones .  check out “1970” Over a Bo Diddley-inspired rhythm, the Stooges blast through this primal, life affirming rocker. The song’s riff, described by original Damned guitarist Brian James as “instant mayhem,” is relentless. You simply can’t help but get sucked into the vortex here. This song, and the attitude within, probably put more fuel in the tanks of punk rock, noise rock, and grunge, but still trumps them all in spades. The chaos grows and by the end of the song, the appearance of wild sax from Steve Mackay takes the whole thing into the stratosphere.

It’s also brilliant, a pre-punk milestone years ahead of the movement it unwittingly helped inspire.

Any surprise then that the album fared even worse than its predecessor? The Stooges didn’t even make the Top 200 this time, and when the band regrouped, after breaking up, a couple of years later to record its third LP, Raw Power, it was for a different record company. Drug addiction, alcoholism, low record sales — nobody could blame Elektra for severing its ties with the band. And hardly anyone noticed. At the time, anyway. It would take a  fair few years, but Fun House eventually became known as an early punk classic, a landmark that inspired its fans to pick up instruments, not bother to tune them and bash out unregulated noise that amounted to a merciless attack on all accessible senses.