Archive for Jim Morrison

The What If? Files – Fantasy Rock Team-ups

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2013 by 30daysout
Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr.

I love those new apps for the smartphone, especially the ones that let you listen to terrestrial radio anywhere in the world. Lately I’ve been digging WDST-FM, Radio Woodstock, operating out of the New York town that shares its name with the festival.

WDST is one of those rare stations whose DJs will say something like “Boz Scaggs has a new album out …” and they will actually play a song from that new Boz Scaggs album. Amazing – you don’t usually hear that on those big-box corporate radio stations. It’s an awesome radio station.


Janis Joplin – a teamup with Gary Clark Jr.? Hmmm …

Anyway, the other day a Radio Woodstock DJ on the morning show – Ron VanWarmer, I believe – said something intriguing. He’d just spun a song from Texas guitar wonder Gary Clark Jr. and after giving the background info on the tune, added: “Wish we could pair him up with somebody like Janis Joplin … that would be so cool.”

He never explained what would make this particular fantasy pairing so great, aside that they’re both Texans and represent a certain authenticity in the music from different eras, but it was a provocative thought nevertheless.

So today we thought we’d carry Ron’s idea a bit further, and suggest a few more fantasy team-ups that would most certainly result in some great music. If only …

Levon Helm with Mumford & Sons – A father of modern folk music and one of America’s greatest singers (and drummers) fronting a foursome of English folk strummers and pickers would be a happy experience for fans on both sides of the Big Pond. Levon in his prime would anchor the Mumford boys with his Arkansas accent on vocals – and Helm’s steady backbeat on the drums would give Marcus Mumford’s right foot a serious break, not to mention a run for the money. If Levon had held on for just a few more years, this dream pairing may have actually taken place. Ah, Levon – we miss ya.

YouTube: “Ophelia” by Levon Helm

Stevie Ray Vaughan with Bruce Springsteen – This could have happened, but sadly never did. They both recorded for the same label, and both worked with the legendary producer John Hammond Sr. Such a New Jersey-Texas connection could have blown anyone else off the stage, and once Stevie Ray warmed up on guitar he probably would’ve left even the Boss in the dust.

Iggy Pop with the Sex Pistols – Another one that might have taken place had the stars been right. Hell, the Pistols even covered the Stooges’ “No Fun.” How much fun would it have been with Iggy on vocals for that one?

YouTube: “Search and Destroy” by Iggy and the Stooges

Jim Morrison with the Flaming Lips – Two different departments of the psychedelia branch, surely this matchup would make heads explode. Or implode – guess it depends on the drugs.

MP3: “When The Music’s Over’ (live) by The Doors

Pee Wee Herman with the Beatles – Think about it. Some of the Beatles’ best songs were so simple as to be nearly childlike, and how cool would it be to hear Mr. Herman warbling along to “Yellow Submarine” or “Octopus’ Garden” or “I Want To Hold Your Hand”? OK, maybe that last one would be really creepy.

Jim James with the Jefferson Airplane – Never thought about it till now, but possibly Mr. Yim Yames is this generation’s Marty Balin.

YouTube: “Know Til Now” by Jim James

Otis Redding with the Roots – A no brainer. These guys share the stage, and it could make heads explode AND blow the roof off the sucker. For that matter, wouldn’t you like to hear Janis Joplin wail a few with Questlove and company? Somewhere up in snowy New York state, Ron VanWarmer’s head is exploding.

MP3: “I Can’t Turn You Loose” (live) by Otis Redding

YouTube: “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” by Otis Redding

Rock & Roll Drama Queens

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2013 by 30daysout

Annie Lebovitz’s (in)famous photo of Fleetwood Mac, back in the day.

This week the music world will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the landmark album Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac. The occasion is marked by the release Tuesday of a super deluxe, three-disc set of the 1977 album that went on to sell more than 40 million copies worldwide.

We’ve all heard the album many times, almost as many times  as we have also heard the soap opera that went on as the album was being recorded. Producer Ken Caillat told us a little about the intrigue, but apparently that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Apparently the best rock and roll is created when there’s tension, pressure and drama. Abbey Road, some of the Beatles’ greatest music, came together when the four members of the band could supposedly barely stand to be in the same room with each other. Elvis Presley’s finest hour came during his late 1960s “comeback,” dramatically righting a career that had become a series of horrible movies and bland soundtracks.

Rockers have had their share of hard times and downright tragedy, just like all of our other beloved entertainers. So let’s slap on a vintage vinyl copy of Rumours, and while it’s popping and ticking away, come with us down memory lane:

David Bowie is gay – Forty one years ago this month, David Bowie shocked no one when he announced to Melody Maker: “I’m gay and I always have been.” Well, probably the shocking part was that he had already been married to a woman.

Nevertheless, the announcement gave Bowie’s career new life. His album at the time, Hunky Dory, became a hit, and “Changes” would appear on the U.S. Billboard charts while “Starman” went to the top 10 in England. Later in 1972, Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, also a hit and a critics’ favorite to this day. He’d close out the year with the single “John, I’m Only Dancing,” with homosexual overtones that would prevent its release in the United States.

Four years later, Bowie would confess to Playboy that he is really bisexual. At that point, very few people cared about his sexual orientation any more.

YouTube: David Bowie with “Oh You Pretty Things”

Eric Clapton is a heroin addict – Perhaps insecure about his abilities as a guitar player (despite the graffiti “Clapton Is God”) Eric Clapton became a serious drug addict in the late 1960s. Heroin was his drug of choice, and in his autobiography Clapton says when he wrote “Layla” to woo Patti Boyd from her then-husband George Harrison he was spending about $16,000 a week on the stuff.

Patti, in her own autobiography, remembers that when she finally hooked up with Clapton he kicked heroin by becoming an alcoholic. “He began in the morning and drank all day until four o’clock when Roger Forrester, his minder and later his manager, made him stop,” she writes. Clapton also dabbled in cocaine and hallucinogens along the way.

Clapton eventually cleaned himself up, long after he’d left Patti Boyd/Harrison/Clapton. He had some real tragedy in his life in 1991 when his four-year-old son (with another wife) fell out of an open window and was killed. Clapton channeled his grief into the hit song “Tears In Heaven,” which earned three Grammy Awards.

YouTube: Eric Clapton with “Cocaine”

Jerry Lee Lewis marries his cousin – In 1957, piano-pounding wild man Jerry Lee Lewis had already been married twice. He married his second wife before the divorce from his first was final, so it shouldn’t have been a shock if he married his third wife before the second divorce was also final.

Nobody noticed – because the Killer married Myra Brown, his third cousin! Who was only 13 years old! Both husband and wife downplayed it, saying it was pretty common in the part of the country they were from. Well, hardly anyone else saw it their way; it became a huge scandal in the U.S. and Europe and pretty much shut down Jerry Lee’s career.

Lewis would manage a bit of a comeback in the late 1960s-early 1970s as a country music performer. He and Myra would divorce in 1970. Lewis, still alive today at age 77, will always be remembered for his wild, unrepentant attitude and his “cradle robbing.”

For the record, when asked about his fellow Memphis musician’s troubles back then, Elvis Presley reportedly said if the two were truly in love, then getting married was all right with him. Of course, Elvis would later fall in love with a 14-year-old girl … but that’s another story.

YouTube: Jerry Lee Lewis with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”

Jim Morrison’s penis – Perhaps the greatest rock and roll drama queen was Jim Morrison, front man of The Doors. He was no stranger to run-ins with the law, but his most (in)famous arrest came in 1969, in Miami.

Visibly intoxicated during the concert, Morrison asked the crowd “You didn’t come here for music, did you?” He continued to rant and finally asked, “You want to see my cock?”  Ray Manzarek recalls that Morrison did some little peek-a-boo striptease thing with a bandana or something, and supposedly Mr. Mojo’s Risin’ was indeed seen.

At any rate, he was not charged until three weeks later, only after the incident became a huge media scandal. Morrison was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior (a felony with a maximum three-year sentence), indecent exposure, public drunkenness and such. After a lengthy and much publicized trial in 1970, Morrison was found guilty and sentenced to six months of hard labor on one charge, and 60 days of hard labor on another charge.

But he never went to prison – the sentence was still on appeal when Morrison died in Paris in 1971.

YouTube: Jim Morrison’s arrest coverage from 1969

(More Than) 40 Years Out: The Doors on the Sunset Strip

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2012 by 30daysout

The Doors help set up their billboard at 8171 Sunset Blvd. to plug their first LP in 1967. It was the first billboard on the Sunset Strip to advertise a rock band.

In Los Angeles recently to chill for a few days, we spent a little time walking up and down the Sunset Strip. Being a couple of tourists from Texas, we could occasionally sense a few stares but by and large everyone treated us like locals – that is, nobody gave a fuck who we were.

The Sunset Strip is the home territory of the mighty Doors – Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore and James Douglas Morrison. We wanted to channel some of the Doors’ magic on the Strip, but unfortunately very few of those vibes floated our way. We did see a small billboard trumpeting The Doors as the honorees of this year’s Sunset Strip Music Fest; it was nowhere as big and bold as the storied billboard that Elektra put up in 1967 to advertise The Doors’ first LP.

The Whisky’s shrine (such as it is) to Jim and Jimi.

So we peeled in to the equally famous Whisky A Go Go, the historic venue where The Doors once toiled as the house band. We bought a couple tickets to see a bill headlined by alt metal thrashers Spineshank. Once our eyes adjusted to the dark interior of the club, we scanned the floor – lots of standing room and a handful of tables and booths. Those prime spots were reserved, though (the booths can be had for a $200 fee, we were told) so … hey look, there’s an upstairs!

The upstairs area had more tables, although the ones closest to the stage were taken up by the opening bands getting their stuff ready to play. When one band finished their set, the next one just carried their gear down the stairs and set up on stage! There was even a band from Texas: Shattered Sun, from Corpus Christi. Fine bands, OK venue, but the best part was the “shrine” to Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, also a Whisky alumni. Just above it was one of those signs that Miller Lite often prints up: “Welcome Back Mötley Crüe! Home Sweet Home.” Well, we got some pretty decent Doors vibes here, even though they were gussied up as death metal.

We didn’t actively seek out The Doors while in L.A., we just wanted to see if we could pick up some sweet Doors vibes naturally, like sensing them on the breeze blowing in from the ocean. I had downloaded The Doors’ L.A. Woman onto my iPhone and was ready for the chance to plug in and blast it while cruisin’ up and down the Strip. But it was too cool to listen to “Ozzy’s Boneyard” on the rental car’s satellite radio; they played “The Changeling” one time, anyway.

The next day we ventured into downtown L.A., and naturally we needed a map to get there. We were told by our L.A. correspondent Randy Fuller that’s not unusual, even longtime L.A. residents need a map when they dare to creep into the city proper. Our destination was The Grammy Museum, which is part of the L.A. Live complex that includes the Staples Center. Not much mention of The Doors here, although we did enjoy the awesome exhibit “Golden Gods: History of Heavy Metal.” Luckily, we caught it on the last day of the exhibit; the next day they dismantled the Metal exhibit and set up another exhibit paying tribute to Whitney Houston.

We raced back to Hollywood, and into the warm embrace of Amoeba Music, billed as the world’s largest independent record store. We believe that! Aside from the two customers and maybe one employee who slightly resembled an older, fatter and post-millennial Jim Morrison, not much Doors action here either. Well, there was an ad for the new LP L.A. Woman: The Workshop Sessions, consisting of even more outtakes from the classic album.

While we’re here, let’s get a Quarter Pounder!

We walked a few blocks north to Hollywood Boulevard to look for stars (on the sidewalk!) but we didn’t find The Doors. They’re actually over by the Hard Rock Cafe, which was flooded with tourists at the time we went. We did find the star for Ozzy Osbourne by a McDonald’s, and the star for Vince McMahon. And of course, over by the Capitol Records building: John, Paul, George and Ringo, and one for The Beatles.

So we are kinda bummed we couldn’t channel more of The Doors while we were in L.A. It’s not like we tried that hard, admittedly. Perhaps it’s best – The Doors, while a great and entertaining memory for many of us, they were damn troublemakers back in the day. Who knows, any one of those hipsters flouncing past us on the Strip or over at The Grove could have been the son or daughter of an illegitimate son or daughter of the Lizard King his own bad self.

And it didn’t occur to me until I was writing this screed (and really grasping for an ending) that Hollywood its own bad self is a tribute to The Doors. Many things may have changed physically along the Sunset Strip and up in the Hills, but with the right kind of attitude you can still feel a bit of The Doors vibe.

Turn off the radio, roll down the car windows and listen closely to those whispers in the wind. What’s that you hear? Just another lost angel in the City of Night.

MP3: “L. A. Woman”

The Doors official web site

Yes, I know about this and this. And especially this. We just wanted to find our own way.

Download our Doors New Year’s Eve concert

Check out last night’s opening of the Sunset Strip Music Festival, honoring The Doors

Happy New Year Again – Live with the Doors

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , on December 31, 2011 by 30daysout

Jim Morrison – if not the greatest live performer, then certainly the most dangerous.

Putting together the music for my New Year’s Eve is a fun ritual that I always look forward to. But this year I noticed – I always seem to include one or two tunes from the Doors, usually really long live tracks. I’m not here to apologize, that’s how I roll. And now that my kids are old enough to be elsewhere on New Year’s Eve, and my wife is a pathological marathon runner, by the time midnight rolls around I’m usually listening to music all by myself anyway.

We’ve come to know pretty much who are the best live performers in rock – Bruce Springsteen, the Who, the Stones, Paul McCartney, U2, etc. But I would argue to put the Doors right at the top of the list.

That’s rock and roll, bro.

When you go to see a Springsteen show, you know pretty much what you’re gonna get but Bruce tends to keep it lively by throwing a few curveballs into each set. The Stones are sloppy, but they are supposed to be. Where the Boss or McCartney can do something unexpected in a good way, the Doors were always good to do something unexpected … in a bad way.

Jim Morrison could be in the zone one night, then stoned and/or drunk out of his mind the next. He could go from unparalleled showman to surly asshole in a moment, berating the crowd that he so desperately wants to entertain. And it certainly didn’t hurt that Morrison was backed by ace musicians Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore – whatever the Lizard King’s demon du jour may have been, you could always count on the rest of the Doors to keep it mostly musical.

That drama and danger are precisely what make the Doors so exciting – it’s rock and roll, bro. And that’s kind of how you feel on a day like New Year’s Eve: not knowing exactly what the coming months, days, hours and seconds may hold in store.

So, Happy New Year … here’s some live Doors to liven up your dull party! Thanks to the great Willard’s Wormholes for the inspiration, and if any of this intrigues you go to his site for a comprehensive live Doors review.

MP3: “Intro/Who Do You Love?”

MP3: “Back Door Man/Love Hides/Five To One”

MP3: “Break On Through”

MP3: “Petition The Lord With Prayer”

MP3: “When The Music’s Over”

MP3: “Peace Frog”

MP3: “Roadhouse Blues”

MP3: “Celebration Of The Lizard”

MP3: “Gloria”

MP3: “Light My Fire”

MP3: “Love Me Two Times”

MP3: “Moonlight Drive”

MP3: “The End”