Sunday, August 06, 2006

John Densmore tribute,,CLICK TITLES FOR LINKS

August 7, 2006
1965, the Strip and Arthur Lee
Love's singer was a man in style and substance ahead of his time, a rock hall of famer recalls.

Love-'Hey Joe' Excerpt
(MP3 audio)

By John Densmore, Special to The Times

It was 1965 when I rushed down to the Whisky a Go-Go to stand out front and listen to a group called Love. My band, the Doors, was playing in a dumpy club up the street, and we were on a break. I craned my neck past Mario, the doorman, to get a glimpse of a band that was so far ahead of its time, the public still hasn't caught up.

The first time I saw Love, I was shocked. They were bizarre. Arthur Lee, the African American lead singer, wore rose-tinted granny glasses, and they had a guitar player whose pants were so tight, it looked like he had a sock stuffed inside his crotch. It was a racially mixed group who seemed to be friends. After experiencing Love, I knew I had a ways to go before being hip. Wearing leather capes and pin-striped pants, suede moccasins, paisley shirts and jackets with fringe everywhere, I wondered if they went out on the street like that. Not that they were fashion without substance; as Lee told us all: "And the things that I must do consist of more than style."

This was a revolutionary band, way before Jimi Hendrix. No black man had crossed over from "soul music" into rock before Arthur. I desperately wanted to be in this band. Arthur clearly had tons of talent and charisma, a quality that our singer, Jim Morrison, hadn't developed yet.

When we finally became the house band at the Whisky, Arthur graciously suggested to Jac Holzman, the president of Love's record company, that Jac check out the Doors. Due to Arthur's jump-starting, we got a record deal.

Jim and I would drive down from Laurel Canyon to the Chinese restaurant next to Greenblatt's Deli to get egg fried rice for breakfast. On one of those excursions "My Little Red Book" came on the radio, Love's cover of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David song. "If we could make a record as good as that," Jim said, "I'd be happy."

Love went on to make several albums for Elektra Records, one of which, "Forever Changes," is a masterpiece (and, it should be noted, was produced and engineered by the vital Bruce Botnick). This album defined the '60s and is the "Sgt. Pepper's" of the West Coast, the "Pet Sounds" of psychedelia. One title from that album, "Maybe the People Would Be the Times, or Between Clark and Hilldale," reflects the street life on the Strip, the Whisky being located on Sunset Boulevard "between Clark and Hilldale."


And oh, the music is so loud

And then, I fade into the … crowds

Of people standing everywhere

And here, they always play my


Wrong or right, they come here

just the same

Tellin' everyone about their



Forgive me now, for copying a slew of lyrics from this brilliant record, but better to quote a genius than wax on with helium upstairs.


On racism:

Around my town

Here, everyone's painted brown

And if with you that's not

the way

Let's go paint everybody gray



I've been here once, I've been

here twice

I don't know, if the third's the

fourth, or the fifth's to fix



There's a man who can't decide

If he should fight for what his

father thinks is right


Prophecy (Arthur spent some time in jail years after this was written):

They're locking them up today,

They're throwing away the key,

I wonder who it will be

tomorrow, you or me



This is the time in life that I am


And I'll face each day with

a smile

For the time that I have been

given, such a little while

And for everyone who thinks

that life is just a game

Do you like the part you're




Sitting on a hillside, watching

all the people die

I'll feel much better on the other

side …


Arthur, I hope you're sitting on that hill … in fact, the Doors' lead singer is waiting to show you where that hill is … and I'm sure you'll feel better.

Unfortunately, Arthur smoked so much herb that he was reluctant to leave his house. "Forever Changes" became a critical and chart-topping monster in England, but Lee wouldn't cross the pond. For those of you who are new to the importance of this band called Love, please check it out.

When I heard the news that Arthur died Thursday, I lit some white sage given to me by Native American musician friends, in honor, and to help Arthur Lee with his crossing. He was an extremely talented, tortured artist, not unlike Jim, and the two of them are sitting on that hill.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

— Howard Thurman, African American mystic and activist


Densmore, author, essayist and drummer for the Doors, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

The Doors - Moonlight Drive

oonlight Drive del L.A. Woman.
L.A. Woman, April 1971, US #9; UK # 26

Founded in 1965 in Los Angeles, California, after a meeting between UCLA film school students Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, "The Doors" became one of the premier acts of the late 1960s. The two had known each other at USUK and met by chance on Venice beach in July 1965. Morrison told Manzarek he had been writing songs and, at Manzarek's encouragement, sang Moonlight Drive. Manzarek immediately suggested they form a band.

Vox-Organ-Player Ray Manzarek was already in the band called Rick And The Ravens with his brothers Rick and Jim while Robby Krieger and John Densmore were playing with The Psychedelic Rangers, and knew Manzarek from shared meditation instruction. In August Densmore joined the group and, along with members of the Ravens and an unidentified female bass player, recorded a six-song demo on September 2. This was widely bootlegged and appeared in full on the 1997 Doors box set.

That month the group recruited talented guitarist Robby Krieger and the final lineup--Morrison, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore--was complete. Manzarek solved their lack of bassist by playing bass on a Fender Rhodes bass keyboard with his left hand and keyboards with his right hand.

The band took their name from the title of a book by Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, which was in turn borrowed from a line of poetry by the 18th century artist and poet William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite."

By 1966 the group was playing The London Fog club and soon graduated to the prestigious Whisky A-Go-Go. On August 10 they were spotted by Elektra Records president Jac Holzman on the insistence of Love singer Arthur Lee, whose group was on Elektra. On August 18 the group signed with the label. The timing was immaculate when, on August 21, the band was fired from the club after a profanity filled performance of "The End". In an incident that was a foretelling for the controversy that would follow the group, a tripping Morrison bellowed during the "Oedipal" section of the song "Mother...I want to...fuck you!!!".

No comments: