Interactive Chronological History

1 9 6 6



Legend:  (DU) = Date Unknown, Date/Playlist, EVENT, Review, Timeline, Link, Quote, Poetry/Lyrics

January 1966

Early January: 
Private Residence - Los Angeles, CA
    The Doors play tonight at the Louis Marvin residence for a small private party.

The Doors continue to practice at Ray's house on the beach.

Thu. Jan. 20: 
Aborted Trip to Mexico (DU)
    Jim, Felix Venable, and Phil O'leno decide to go to Mexico in search of true Indians and in hopes of finding Peyote. On the way, Jim decides to pull a prank by jumping out of the car at an intersection, kissing a Mexican-American girl on the mouth and hopping back into the car as they speed away. The girl's male companions are enraged and track Jim and his friends and ultimately beat them up pretty good. The guys decide to abort their journey and return home. However, somewhere along the way, Phil departs and goes his own way after a fight with Jim, presumably over a girl. When they arrive home Jim makes up a story about getting into a deadly brawl with Phil accidentally killing him and disposing of the body in a riverbed!

"He had some really bad argument with Jim. I don't know what it was, but Phil was always more serious about spiritual experiences and he finally called Jim an asshole and didn't want to have anything more to do him. Jim didn't want to be a monk or a scholar, he wanted excitement. Well, he did for a while anyway because it was after he came back from that trip The Doors began to happen." - Carol Winters

Sun. Jan. 23: Jim Gets Arrested - Inglewood, CA
    Phil O'leno's father is an attorney and files assault and battery charges against Jim in an effort to get the real story once he gets wind of the story circulating since no legitimate information was given about the true nature of his son's disappearance. Once arrested and taken into the station Jim quickly tells the truth and the charges are withdrawn once Phil's father is assured of his son's safety.

"Someone said to me The Doors are playing at The London Fog, you ought to go by and hear them. And I thought about it. And I decided not to, as much as it would be nice to hear them. And to see Jim again. But, that parting on the desert was truly the end. That was it. I had made my decision. And I didn't go to see them. I left for New York. So you know the lyrics of the song...'I had to set you free, you would never follow me' When The Doors came to New York in the winter of 1967, I asked Jim about that song, "The End", and when he had written it. He grinned, you know like he used to do, and said, "Oh, right about the time you split for New York."... Well, I couldn't go on his trip. And he couldn't go on mine, because he had work to do... So that's what the farewell was all about." - Phil O'leno

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend
It hurts to set you free, but you'll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies,
The end of nights we tried to die
This is the end.

Thu. Jan. 27:  Timeline - Space
    US, USSR, and the UK sign a treaty banning nuclear weapons in space. Apollo I blows up on the launch pad killing Grissom, White, and Chaffee. The space program is halted for three months.

Sat. Jan. 29:
Redland's Bowl - Redlands, CA (DU)
    This concert takes at the edge of the desert with some other local bands.

February 1966

Fri. Feb. 11: 
Valley Teen Center - Van Nuys, CA (DU)

F I R S T   R E A L   G I G   -  T H E   L O N D O N   F O G

Late February:  London Fog Audition - West Hollywood, CA
    The Doors audition the London Fog, owned by one Jesse James, on the Sunset Strip and are hired to be the regular house band. The band members earn $10.00 a night and play Thursday - Sunday doing five sets from 9 P.M. - 2 A.M. beginning sometime in late February or possibly early March (DU). For the audition, The Doors made sure all their friends from UCLA came out to go crazy after every song and make them seem like a really popular band with a big draw. It worked and the band was hired on the spot and the next night no one was there, business as usual for the London Fog.

"Nobody ever came in the place,... Maybe an occasional businessman, a sailor or two on leave, a prostitute, a few drunks. They had a go-go dancer, lovely Rhonda Lane, dancing in a cage to our songs which was ridiculous... it was a very depressing experience, but it gave us time to really get the music together"

"I refused because, hey, I was a musician, a working professional; but Jim wanted to do it and so we did. In the back of my mind, I knew it was invaluable honing of the material."

    The Doors will be the regular house band here for about two months until financial troubles hit the club sometime in early May (DU). Jim is very shy and sings close to the band mostly with his back turned to the usually small and varied crowds choosing to interact with the band rather than the audience. The time spent here is invaluable for The Doors as it allows them to thoroughly develop there sound and incorporates Jim to slowly become more confident on his way to evolving into a charismatic front man.

"The Doors weren't very good then... The other bands didn't think a whole lot of them. Jimmy's antics were considered extreme even then. Nobody quite understood what he was up to or why he had to be so brazen at times. I know that he hated to sing. He didn't think he was any good and didn't like performing. There was always a part of him that was self-critical and questioning. As though he felt he was being a sham. It wasn't so much that he would rather do something else. It was as if he was very unhappy inside. It made him so nervous he had to get totally looped... I used to wonder what was holding him up." - Mirandi Babitz

    If Jim had not been allotted an atmosphere like this and had been thrown right into the "big show" it is highly unlikely we would ever have known The Doors. He needed the London Fog to be his stepping stone and the band, although not really liking to play here while they played here, realized this in hindsight. This was a very important two months for The Doors development.   

March 1966
J I M   M O V E S   O U T   O F   R A Y   A N D   D O R O T H Y ' S

Throughout March:  London Fog - West Hollywood, CA
    Soon the band is hired for two more nights and Jim, playing six days a week now, starts to become more expressive with each performance. Jim moves out of  Ray's and into an apartment with UCLA film friend Phil O'leno.

This photo of Phil O'leno was taken while he was attending UCLA film school.

"See Felix and Jim and I, we were getting a little bit crazy, the three of us. Too crazy. So it was difficult for the band, The Doors, to rehearse really. Jim would rather get fucked up... But Jim would have gone off if somebody had appeared somebody with magic. Or if some situation had manifested itself. But this band was what he was supposed to do. To get the basis for which he could work, and be heard. He got high just being on stage. I mean he got into places where few people get to go. He and the band, too." -
Phil O'leno

J I M   M E E T S   P A M E L A   S U S A N   C O U R S O N

Around this time, Jim meets Pamela Courson while playing at the club. She attends almost every show and they quickly become inseparable.
She is nineteen and studying art at Los Angeles City College

Although both Manzarek and Densmore--along with Pamela's mother, Penny--believe Jim met Pam at The London Fog in spring of 1966, Densmore has admitted that he made a move on her there, only to lose out to Morrison. Close friends of hers say they met at a party some six months before, either at UCLA or at Los Angeles City College, where the eighteen-year-old Pam had been an art student. Born in Weed, California, just south of the Oregon border and a few miles north of Mount Shasta, which Native Americans consider to be a holy mountain. Like Jim, she was in a ilitary family. Her father, Columbus "Corky" Courson, who was a high school principal in nearby Orange County, was also a commander and pilot in the U.S. Navy. (This entire piece taken from p. 77 The Doors on The Doors)

A p r i l  -  J u n e

April 1966

Throughout April:  London Fog - West Hollywood, CA
    The Doors continue at the small club honing their skills and original sound. Jim is smoking pot all day, drinking all night, he loves acid and pops speeders when he needs them often while on stage. He is still self conscious performing but the drugs and alcohol help release his unique personality as he begins to repel and attract with his antics both on and off stage. He is stirring up attention and becoming the most talked about singer in LA. The band is hungry for success and advancement and walk up to the premier club on the strip, The Whisky, between sets to see what's going on. Jim seeks out the manager, Ronnie Haran, incessantly and tries to convince her to come see them play.

"We'd all hang out after hours at Canter's Deli on Fairfax. Every freak in town and every band in town. All Zappa's people and all the Doors. All the Byrds, Arthur Lee with his scarves, Buffalo Springfield, the Daily Flash, Sons of Adam. We'd exchange acid, stories, girlfriends and sandwiches. Morrison stood out because he was incredibly handsome and, if he wanted to, he could get very loud. Everybody attracted a different kind of hanger-on, and even then Jim was already attracting the budding little dark poets and little lost waifs."- Jimmy Greenspoon, keyboards for Three Dog Night

Tue. April 5:  Timeline - Of Interest
    Grayline Tours first include the Haight Ashbury district on their tours of San Francisco.

Fri. April 15:  Timeline - Vietnam War
    Draft card law making burning draft cards a federal offense is held unconstitutional.

Sat. April 23: Will Rogers State Park - Los Angeles, CA
    The war in Vietnam is escalating and many people are beginning to make known their feelings against the war. This is called a "No War Toys" gathering in protest of America's increasing involvement.

This ad is made from a Brueghel painting

C O L U M B I A   D R O P S   T H E   D O O R S

Late April:  Columbia Drops The Doors (DU)
    Hearing nothing from Columbia Records The Doors ask to be released from their contract. The record company sees nothing going on with the band and agrees to release them losing The Doors forever. In reality, Columbia was going to drop them soon anyway.

May 1966

Early May:  Ford Motor Company Training Film - Los Angeles, CA (DU)
    The Doors no longer under any contracts are hired to provide background music to a Ford training film for mechanics. The Doors compose music for the opening sequence while viewing the film on a small monitor in a tiny studio. They play pieces from what will become "The Soft Parade" in an attempt to convey rural America.

Jim is said to have seen Warhol's production on opening night on May 3rd.

Thu. May 5:  London Fog - West Hollywood, CA (DU)
    After persistent ploys by Jim, Ronnie Haran attends her first Doors show at the London Fog and ends up inviting the band to auditions the following Monday. Around this time, The Doors are informed that they will be let go after this weekend's performances by the London Fog due to financial problems and a lack of audience.

"The owner of The London Fog eventually said, 'Listen you guys, you've been here for four months now, and I'm afraid we're going to have to get a new house band.' We thought, my God, what are we gonna do now? As the fates would have it, Ronnie Haran, the booking agent for the Whiskey A-Go-Go, came down to hear us, immediately fell in love with Jim, loved the music and asked, 'How would you guys like to be the house band at the Whiskey?' We said, 'Incredible - it just so happens we're free. Our engagement here is ended,' and we went from making $5 a night to union scale, $135 a week each - we felt like we were in heaven! We played with Them, Love, The Seeds, The Turtles, The Byrds. We were the openers." (1972)

Fri. May 6:  Warner Playhouse - Los Angeles, CA
    The Doors play this after-hours gig from 2:00 a.m.- 4:00 a.m. after their London Fog show. The playhouse also features other bands and exotic dancers.

L A S T   P E R F O R M A N C E   A T   T H E   L O N D O N   F O G

Sat. May 7:  Last Performance at the London Fog - West Hollywood, CA (DU)
    This is The Doors final appearance and the London Fog closes shortly after due to financial problems later re-opening as Sneaky Pete's on May 13th.

Sat. May 7(2):  Warner Playhouse - Los Angeles, CA

Mon. May 9:  Whisky A Go Go - Audition - West Hollywood, CA (DU)
    This is The Doors first appearance at The Whisky auditioning for the position of house band in which they will open up for the headliners. After this live audition, the owner, Elmer Valentine, likes the band and hires them to be the regular house band. However, The Doors do not begin immediately because they are hard to track down lacking any permanent address. Ronnie Haran finally tracks them down and informs them of their position.

"I knew Jim had star quality the minute I saw him,... I had a hard time getting hold of him, though, because in those days he was living on the beach and no one knew quite where (he was sleeping under the boardwalk in Venice). He didn't have a pot to piss in. I had to dress him, get him some T-shirts and turtle necks at the Army-Navy store, the leathers didn't come until several months later." - Ronnie Haran, Whisky Manager

Fri. May 12 - Sat. 13:  Brave New World - Hollywood, CA (DU)
    The Doors open for Arthur Lee of Love. This club closes down shortly after this performance.

Fri. May 13(2):  Warner Playhouse - Los Angeles, CA
    "Night Flight" performance from 2:00 a.m. - 4:00 a.m.

Fri. May 13(3): 
Royce Hall Auditorium - UCLA
    This is the school's 7th semi-annual exhibition of student films. Ray is among the headliners at this mega-popular event featuring his movie Induction.

Sat. May 14(2): 
Warner Playhouse - Los Angeles, CA
    "Night Flight" performance from 2:00 a.m. - 4:00 a.m.

Warner Poster

Thu. May 19:  Betty's Music Shop - Venice, CA (DU)
    The Doors play for a small crowd hanging outside the music store this afternoon. The Doors begin by looking at some equipment and end up doing a short four or five song impromptu set.

T H E   D O O R S   B E G I N   T H E I R   L E G E N D A R Y   S T A N D   A T   T H E   W H I S K Y  A   G O   G O
( 5 / 2 3 / 6 6   t o   8 / 2 1 / 6 6 )


T H E   W H I S K Y   A S   I T   W A S   I N   1 9 6 6

Mon. May 23:  Whisky a Go Go - Opening Night - 8901 Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, CA

Tue. May 24 - Fri. 27: 
Whisky a Go Go - Opening for Captain Beefheart & Buffalo Springfield
    The Doors are opening for Capt. Beefheart who are just returning from a successful European tour and   Buffalo Springfield who are new and still unheard of at this point. Some of the members of Springfield include  Neil Young and Steve Stills. Their rise to stardom will be phenomenal and much faster than The Doors rise will eventually be. They will play The Hollywood Bowl in just 2 months. However, with much dissension in the band they will dismember in a year after three solid albums

E L E K T R A  &  T H E   D O O R S

May 1966:  Whisky A Go Go - Jac Holzman, President Elektra Records, Arrives on the Scene
    Jac Holzman president and founder of Elektra records arrives on a late flight from New York and is picked up by Whisky manager Ronnie Haran. They go to the club to hook up with Arthur Lee lead singer of the signed Elektra band Love. Jac hangs out but is tired and beat from the late arrival. Lee will not let him leave without listening to The Doors who are coming on soon. Jac respects Arthur's opinion and agrees to listen. Jac is not impressed but Arthur begs him to give them another listen. Jac agrees and returns for the next four shows and eventually falls in love with the band and agrees to sign them.

This is a critical moment in Doors history because if it wasn't for the persistence of Arthur Lee The Doors would not have got another listen. Credit Arthur Lee with a huge hand in the discovery, signing and ultimate success of The Doors.

"In May of 1966 I had flown to LA and was picked up at the airport by Ronnie Haran in her white convertible. Arthur Lee was playing the Whisky and expected me to drop by. It was 11pm LA time, 2am New York metabolism time. I was beat, but I went. Arthur urged me to stick around for the next band. Whoever they were, Arthur had a high opinion of them, and I had a very high opinion of Arthur's opinion, so I stayed.

    It was the Doors, and they did nothing for me. There was another group that played the Whisky that I had fallen in love with and tried desperately to sign, Buffalo Springfield, but Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic was far more convincing. We were a smaller label without Atlantic's amazing track record of hit singles. Love had gotten my foot in the rock door, and now I needed a second group to give Elektra more of that kind of credibility, but the Doors weren't showing it to me.

    Jim was lovely to look at, but there was no command. Perhaps I was thinking too conventionally, but their music had none of the rococo ornamentation with which a lot of rock and roll was being embellished-remember, this was still the era of the Beatles and "Revolver," circa 1966. Yet, some inner voice whispered that there was more to them than I was seeing or hearing, so I kept returning to the club.

    Finally, the fourth evening, I heard them. Jim generated an enormous tension with his performance, like a black hole, sucking the energy of the room into himself. The bass line was Ray Manzarek playing a second keyboard, piano bass, an unusual sound, very cadenced and clean. On top of Ray, Robby Krieger laid shimmering guitar. And John Densmore was the best drummer imaginable for Jim-whatever Morrison did Densmore could follow, with his jazz drummer's improvisational skill and sensitivity. They weren't consistent and they needed some fine tuning before they would be ready to record, but this was no ordinary rock and roll band.

    In my folk days, I would mike voices and instruments very close up, and the records sounded fat and full, the voice popping out, right in front of your living room speakers. I thought that with equivalent miking and proper stereo spacing we could make a virtue of the group's sparseness. Kurt Weill's 'Alabama Song' was a surprise coming from a rock band, and their arrangement impressed me. And when I heard, really heard, Manzarek's baroque organ line under 'Light My Fire,' I was ready to sign them.

- Jac Holzman, President Elektra Records, Follow The Music

Sat. May 28 - Wed. June 1:  Whisky A Go Go - Opening for Love - West Hollywood, CA
    The Doors open shows for Love, featuring Arthur Lee, who have signed with Elektra Records earlier this year the first band ever signed by Elektra. Love, who formed in April of 1965, released "Little Red Book" this Spring and are receiving national attention and it is "7 and 7 Is" released later in  July that will put them on the charts. Both songs are off there debut album simply titled Love.

(DU) Jim's sister Anne visits with her child Dylan.
1966 Photo Credit Anne Morrison, scanned from p. 13 of The Doors on The Doors

Mon. May 30(2):  Hullabaloo - West Hollywood, CA
    The Doors open this after-hours performance with "Light My Fire" after their regular gig at the Whisky.

"I just remember that some of the best musical trips we took were in clubs. There's nothing more fun than to play music to an audience. You can improvise at rehearsals, but it's kind of a dead atmosphere. There's no audience feedback. There's no tension, really, because in a club with a small audience you're free to do anything. You still feel obligated be good, so you can't get completely loose; there are people watching. So there is this beautiful tension. There's freedom and at the same time an obligation to play well. I can put in a full day's work, go home and take a shower, change clothes, then play two or three sets at the Whisky, man, and I love it. The way an athlete loves to run, to keep in shape."

June 1966

Thu. June 2 - Fri. 17:  Whisky A Go Go - Opening for Them - West Hollywood, CA
    The Doors open for Them (with Van Morrison) for a two week engagement. Van Morrison founded the band in 1965 in Belfast. Them is currently on a West Coast tour that will be their only U.S. tour with Van Morrison who quits the band after their return to Europe. These shows are sellouts and totally awesome! The Doors members had a hard time even finding a place to watch Them on opening night it was so packed! Them plays their popular hits "Gloria", "Baby, Please Don't Go", and "Here Comes the Night". Jim thought very highly of  Them as did all The Doors. Jim especially liked Van's usually drunken violent performances in which he would scream and yell while slamming the mic stand into the stage. After the show, Ronnie Haran threw a welcoming party at her apartment for the guys, in which Jim was absent. John attended and saw the other side of Van Morrison - a quiet and sensitive man with little interest in small talk.

Mon. June 6:  Timeline - Space
    Unmanned spaceship Gemini 9 lands on the moon.

Sat. June 18:  Whisky A Go Go - On-stage with Them - West Hollywood, CA
    The Doors appear on-stage with Them at the end of the late show on their last performance of their engagement. The stage is set-up with both bands' full equipment! They play an extended 25 minute version of Wilson Pickett's "In The Midnight Hour" and "Gloria" is the 20 minute grand finale. Van Morrison later comments that this performance with The Doors was one of the highlights of his career with Them. The bands played an all ages 4:00 p.m. matinee and late shows on Saturdays and Sundays during this booking.

Robby"It's funny because we never knew Van Morrison or what he was like until he came to the Whisky, and there he was stomping around, throwing the mike just like Jim would, you know - oh no, my God, another Morrison! You think of him later more as doing nice songs and stuff, but in the early Whisky days he was a terror. I mean you'd be afraid to come anywhere near the stage - drunk as hell, throwing the mike around, screaming and railing and stuff. He had some real devils inside." - Robby Krieger
The thing that was so interesting to me was to learn how much chaos there was inside the group Them. It's almost as if Jim studied their chaos and brought it into The Doors." Paul Rothchild

Wed. June 22 - Wed. July 10:  Whisky A Go Go - Opening for Gene Clark


    The Doors reputation continues to grow. Jim is really acting up on stage often appearing crazed and this brings The Doors much attention, especially Jim. People start calling The Whisky asking about The Doors. Jim continues to give X-rated performances while constantly tripping. Jim is mastering the stage while drawing people off the Strip and record companies to the shows.

"He was kinda ahead of his time on certain things, like swearing . . . But those calls kept coming in. 'When's that horny motherfucker comin' in' the phones were incredible. We never got that many calls before for just a second group." Elmer Valentine, Whisky Owner

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J u l y  -  S e p t e m b e r

July 1966

Sat. July 16 - Sat. 23:  Whisky A Go Go - Opening for The Turtles and First Review
The Doors open for the very popular Turtles who play such hits as "Eve of Destruction" and Dylan's "It Aint Me Babe"off their debut album It Aint Me Babe. There are a lot of media here to check out The Turtles this week and The Doors get some extra exposure.
    The Doors receive their first review by Los Angeles Times writer Pete Johnson who is attending one of the shows on opening night Sat. July 16th. He is here to primarily write a review on The Turtles but can't help throwing in his two-cents on The Doors.

Pam backstage at the Whisky 1966 (DU)
Scanned from p. 77 of The Doors on The Doors

    Review: "Sharing the bill are The Doors, a hungry looking quartet with an interesting original sound but with what is possibly the worst stage appearance of any rock 'n' roll group in captivity.  Their lead singer emotes with his eyes closed, the electric pianist hunches over his instrument as if reading mysteries from the keyboard, the guitarist drifts about the stage randomly and the drummer seems lost in a separate world." (Pete Johnson, "Bo Diddley, Turtles: Both ends of the rock spectrum in town,"
Los Angeles Times, Part IV, p.22, July 18, 1966)

"The general idea was to blow the headliners off the stage." (1972)

Wed. July 27:  Whisky A Go Go - Opening for The Chambers Brothers and Johny Rivers

Thu. July 28: 
Starlight Ballroom - Oxnard, CA
    Also performing: Them; The Count Five ["Psychotic Reaction"]

Publicity shoot near Mullholand Falls, Los Angeles, 1966 (DU)
Photo credit Bobby Klein 1966 scanned from p. 21 of The Doors on The Doors

Thu. July 28(2):  Earl Warren Showgrounds - Santa Barbara, CA
    This is the "Mid-Summer Spectacular Show of Shows" and it runs from 7:30 p.m. till midnight and is promoted by James Salzer. Salzer holds the distinction as the first promoter to book The Doors in a larger concert venue. (There's another great trivia question for the hardest of Doors fans!)
    The local newspaper, in writing an article about the upcoming show, describes The Doors as "a controversial group in Los Angeles coming to Santa Barbara direct from the 'Whisky A Go Go' in Hollywood". The Doors are already considered "controversial" as far north as Santa Barbara even though they are still only the opening band. Also performing: Them; The Count Five

Fri. July 29 - Sun. 31: 
The Fifth Estate - Phoenix, AZ (DU)

August 1966

Mon. Aug. 1 - Thu. 4:  Whisky A Go Go - The Rolling Stones & David Crosby
    During this time the Rolling stones are in town for a recording session and stop by to hear The Doors. They are reportedly not very impressed. Also around this time, Jim gets into it with David Crosby who is performing with The Byrds. On the night of Lenny Bruce's death Crosby stops by to hear some music wearing shades throughout the evening. Jim while performing shouts to Crosby that he can't hide behind his sunglasses and an argument ensues. Also performing: Johny Rivers; The Chambers Brothers.

Fri. Aug. 5: 
Starlight Ballroom - Oxnard, CA
    The Doors show up at promoter Salzer's Arcade Record Store to lend support against an ordinance being passed in Oxnard banning dancing in an attempt to thwart the evolution of the current music scene.  Also performing: The Seeds

Sat. Aug. 6
Earl Warren Showgrounds - Santa Barbara, CA
    The Doors play Salzer's show with The Seeds from 8:00 p.m.- midnight which is held in the Flower Show Building.

Sun. Aug. 7 - Tue. 9: 
Whisky A Go Go - West Hollywood, CA
    Also performing: Johny Rivers; The Chambers Brothers

Thu. Aug. 11 - Sun. 14: 
Whisky A Go Go - Opening for Love

P A U L   R O T H C H I L D   C O M E S   T O   S E E   T H E   D O O R S

Mon. Aug. 15 - Sat. 20:  Whisky A Go Go - Paul Rothchild Arrives to See The Doors
    On August 15th, Paul Rothchild and Jac Holzman come to the Whisky to hear The Doors. After that second set, Holzman and Rothchild approach the band and offer them a contract this very night! The Doors are excited but tell Elektra they need to think it over. Holzman and Rothchild return to New York and The Doors hire Max Fink as their attorney while thinking the deal over. On the 16th, Max Fink and Elektra begin negotiations.

"I came to the club and there was a small crowd, not big. The Doors opened, and I heard one of the worst sets of music I have ever heard in my life. Knowing that the record company always gets to hear the bad sets, and that I had just traveled across the country to hear them, I stayed and heard one of the greatest sets of music I have ever heard in my life!"

T H E   D O O R S   U N O F F I C I A L L Y   S I G N   W I T H   E L E K T R A

Wed. Aug. 18:  The Doors Sign with Elektra
    The Doors sign a contract with Elektra but it isn't until November of this year while touring in New York that they agree on a complete contract specifying seven albums among other details.

"The people said everyone in town was trying to sign us up, but it really wasn't true . . . in fact, Jac Holzman's might have been the only concrete offer we had. We may have made him come up with the best deal possible, but there's no question we weren't that much in demand." (1969)

T H E   B E G I N N I N G   O F   T H E   W H I R L W I N D

The Doors are obviously excited about their new upcoming record deal. They are about to go into the studio, take a trip to NYC and get kicked out of the Whisky for obscenities. This is a very magical time for all the members and their close friends. They are like a huge fiery comet ready to go as far as their energy will take them. But little do they realize what awaits them and how fast things will begin to move for all of them, especially Jim Morrison. This is where I believe the legend really begins. From this point on it is like going from a 6th grader to an adult with more responsibilities than you can handle. It's tough for anyone, any band, especially in such a time as the sixties where excess is the norm and there is more, more, MORE!!!

  Click on the early Elektra logo for the history of the label and founder Jac Holzman.

F I N A L   W H I S K Y   P E R F O R M A N C E S  -  O E D I P A L   S E C T I O N

Thur. Aug. 18:  Whisky A Go Go - Final  Performances * (DU)
    The Doors play their first set without Jim who is becoming more and more absent at the beginning of shows much to the dismay of the owners Phil Tanzini and Elmer Valentine. After the first set, in which Ray handles the singing, they are directed by the owners to track down Morrison. They locate him at his hotel, The Alta Cienega, where he is totally wired and spaced-out on a large quantity of LSD. The band eventually talks him into at least showing up on stage whether he sings or not. He is so out of it they even have to put clothes on him.
    The Doors take the stage and Jim is obviously in another world. By the end of the set he is coherent enough to try and sing and tells the band to play "The End". Shortly into the song Jim's mesmerizing bravado quickly entrances the crowd and the club is deadly still with all attention on Jim. He slowly and quietly begins to sing the Oedipal section during one of the song's breaks. The place is still. Jim is gradually pulling the crowd in and they join in on his trip down the hallway. As Jim gets into the worst of it the band plays harder and louder in an attempt to drown out the extremely obscene lyrics but Jim is screaming with a force that cannot be contained. The band quickly brings the song to an end and jets off the stage. After this X-rated performance The Doors are fired by the irate club owner Phil Tanzini who is absolutely appalled by the song and does not care to hear about the Greek myth of Oedipus Rex.
    The Doors are let go, but not so soon. This evening's performance takes place on Thursday but the band is booked through the weekend. After Phil's tirade backstage in which he fires The Doors, Robby asks if they should fill out the week and Phil agrees. The Doors play Friday and Saturday with their final show on Sunday.  Also performing: Love.

The killer awoke before dawn,

He puts his boots on,
He took a face from the ancient gallery,
And he walked on down the hall
"It didn't start out as an Oedipus thing, more of a goodbye song. We played it at the London Fog where we first started. Then as we played it each night it got a little more serious. I'd make up the lyrics each night. Then one Sunday night at Whisky A Go Go, we were the second band - something clicked. I realized what the whole song was about, what it had been leading up to. It was powerful. It just happened. They fired us the next day."
Ray"It sent a chill, a shiver, through the entire place and froze the whisky A Go Go. He was taking us on this psychic journey. The club stopped little by little. The dancers stopped, the waitresses stopped serving drinks. Jim was so hypnotic that night."

He went into the room where his sister lived
And then he paid a visit to his brother,
And then he walked on down the hall

"As far as the Oedipal section...we had never even heard of it before that night. We're just playing along and all of a sudden, he's killing his father and screwing his mother. Elmer's old partner, Phil Tanzini, thought he was crazy."

"He was getting crazy, taking acid every day. He was obsessed with death, never did anything in moderation, a consumptive personality. When we parted, he said, 'I'm gonna be dead in two years." Ronnie Haran

And he came to a door,
And he looked inside,
Father? - Yes, son? - I want to kill you
Mother - I want to . . . Fuck you mother all night long

Sun. Aug. 21:  Whisky A Go Go - Final  Performance * (DU)

D O O R S   R E C O R D   F I R S T   A L B U M
(DU) - These recordings are also speculated to take place in early September

Wed. Aug. 24 - Wed. 31:  The Doors Record Their First Album - Sunset Sound Recording Studios - 6650 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA

    The Doors record their first album in only 6 days (with a weekend break).
Paul Rothchild produces and oversees the recording sessions with engineer Bruce Botnick. The Doors hire an additional musician, Larry Knechtel, to play bass. "Moonlight Drive" is one of the first songs The Doors record during these sessions but it does not make this album.

<>Ray"The first album was an existential album. It was four incredibly hungry young men, striving and dying to make it, desperately wanting to get a record, a good record, out to the American public and wanting the public to like the record. I feel any artist wants the public to like his act, or his record: I think that any artist creates from a driving inner need, but there's an outer need that's important too, and that's acceptance by some people, somewhere, somehow. Someone saying to you, 'I like this work you've created.' That's what being an artist is. So 'The Doors' was that incredible, existential first time - 'Here they are, fist time out, fresh, brand new and hungry as hell' was a dream come true for us. Getting the songs down, having a record contract. Being at Sunset Studios." (1978)
Robbie"The first night we were afraid to play too loud. With all that expensive equipment in there we were afraid that we'd blow it out."

"The End" is the highlight of the sessions recorded in only two takes on consecutive evenings. Later, on the evening of the second take, after singing in total darkness except for a single candle, Jim sneaks back into the recording studio and hoses the whole place down with a fire extinguisher putting out the symbolic fire the band has created on this magical night. Paul Rothchild, back in New York, uses both takes later in editing the song switching between the first and second takes right before the lyric "The killer awoke before dawn..." Jim was too high on acid to really capture the song on the first night, but totally took control on the next, capturing a piece of musical history.

"the most awe-inspiring thing I'd ever witnessed in a studio."
Ray"When it came time to do 'The End' a very different mood took Jim over. He became shamanistic and led the small group on a shamanistic voyage. He put himself into a trance and, through that, put us all into a trance."

"We didn't start out with such big ideas.We thought we were going to be just another pop group, but then something happened when we recorded 'The End'. We saw that what we were doing was more important than just a hit song. We were writing serious music and performing it in a very dramatic way. 'The End' is like going to see a movie when you already know the plot. It's a timeless piece of material... It was then that we realized we were different from other groups. We were playing music that would last for years, not weeks."

September 1966

Thu. Sept. 15 - Sun. 18:  Bido Lito's - Hollywood, CA (DU)
    The Doors had tried to play here in the past and did many auditions but were never booked. Well, after securing a record deal and causing quite a stir on the Strip they are greatly welcome. Since The Doors have just recorded their first album, they are all extremely loose and carefree during these performances. Also performing: The Seeds.

F I R S T   P U B L I C I T Y   S H O O T

Late September:  Publicity Shoot - Venice, CA (DU)
    The Doors take a day out to walk around Venice while being photographed for their first publicity shoot. You can already see the professionalism and seriousness the band takes in portraying their image.


O c t o b e r  -  D e c e m b e r

Canyon Country Store

October 1966

Throughout October: Sunset Sounds Recording Studio - Los Angeles
    The Doors, although not mandatory, take part in the mixing process of the first album with engineer and producer Botnick and Rothchild. The album quickly begins to take shape.

Timeline: Black Panthers - Civil Rights - Oakland, CA
    Bobby Seale and Huey Newton launch the Black Panther Party in Oakland. The black civil rights movement is becoming more and more extreme. H. Rap Brown "Violence is as American as apple pie", Eldridge Cleaver "You are either part of the problem or part of the solution". Malcom X's more extreme viewpoints are striking a chord with the black community more than Martin Luther King's more passive remarks. White middle class is starting to listen as the panthers dress in berets and black leather jackets like uniforms.

F I R S T   T R I P   T O   N E W   Y O R K   C I T Y

Mon. Oct. 31:  Halloween 1966 - The Doors hit New York City
    The Doors arrive in NYC and check into the Henry Hudson Hotel on 57th St. They attend an extremely weird Halloween party at Ondine's on the Upper East Side. This is the same place where they will be giving their first East coast performances booked sight unseen and only by reputation as L.A.'s hippest band with a sound unlike anything that is being played in NYC. The Doors will be in NYC for a month playing at Ondine's at night and working with Rothchild on the final mixing of the first album in both stereo and mono. This is completed during this month. Rothchild was nearly half through the final mixes when The Doors arrived in NYC.

November 1966

Tue. Nov. 1 - Wed. 30:  Ondine Discotheque - NYC
    A small basement of a club in Midtown Manhattan. The Doors will perform here as their first out-of-town gig. They will play here for a month. The Doors are hired sight unseen with the title as LA's best underground band with a sound unlike anything being played in New York. They were different in every sense. The way they dressed. The way they took the stage. The way they carried themselves around the club and although the music isn't danceable in the classic sense the girls slowly start coming to see Morrison and the band really wins over the New York crowd. Robbie Krieger believes this is the time when The Doors played their best!

The Doors came to New York for the first time and played at the nightclub, Ondine.

Andy Warhol:
“Gerard took one look at JIM MORRISON in leather pants just like his and he flipped. ‘He stole my look!’ he screamed, outraged." (POP189)

Jim Morrison had seen Gerard Malanga performing earlier that year at The Trip in L.A., as part of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Morrison was supposed to be the star of Andy Warhol's first "blue" (porn) movie. According to Warhol, Morrison had "agreed to bring a girl over and fuck her in front of the camera but when the time came, he never showed up.” (POP190)


The Doors at Ondine in New York City 1966 (DU)
Photo credit "Backstage" Tom Monaster left; Don Paulsen @ Michael Ochs archive scanned from p. 52 of The Doors on The Doors right

"We were doing like five sets a night in this club, and we were hot. I wished they would have recorded us live then."
Robbie Krieger excerpt from Break On Through p. 121

"He sauntered over to the bar (Morrison) and I thought to myself, if this guy can recite the phone book he's going to sell a million records . . . He was gorgeous, magnetic"
Steve Harris, VP of Elektra, on his first encounter of Morrison at Ondine, NYC

T  H E   D O O R S   S I G N   W I T H   E L E K T R A

<> Tue. Nov. 15:  The Doors Officially Sign With Elektra - NYC
    The Doors officially sign with Elektra as exclusive recording artists for seven albums. Elektra also makes several business moves to boost the promotion of the band. First, Jac Holzman decides to hold back the release of the album until the beginning of the next year so Elektra could give The Doors utmost attention - this was to be the only record released in that month. Second, Steve Harris hires several young and attractive girls to create an air of excitement at all the shows, throwing underwear and coming on to Jim during performances. Third, Holzman reserved a billboard on the Strip to promote the band's first release, the first of it's kind, in a genius marketing strategy scheme. The Doors also sign over publishing to Elektra's Nipper Music and approve the album cover. The band also reluctantly agrees to release "Break On Through" as their first single. The lyric "She gets high/she gets high/she gets high" is changed to She gets/she gets/she gets" in order to not freak out some popular radio stations so the band will get some much needed airplay. The band strongly wants Morrison to be the focal point of advertising and Elektra agrees. Jim however shares all publishing, recording, and performance income equally amongst the four members of the band.

Thu. Nov. 24: 
Thanksgiving - NYC
    The Doors spend tonight as guests at producer Paul Rothchild's home and take a night off from playing at Ondine.

A L B U M   C O V E R   S H O O T

Late November: Photo and Video Shoot - NYC Elektra Studios
    The band does a photo shoot for the album cover (DU) and shoots a video towards the end of the month for the upcoming single release "Break on Through" in an Elektra studio with director Mark Abramson.


December 1966
J I M   A N D   P A M   M O V E   I N   T O G E T H E R

Early December:  The Doors return from NYC
    Ray, Dorothy and John decide to drive back together on Route 66. Upon returning, Jim and Pam first move in together at 1812 Rothdell Trail in Laurel Canyon. They spend some of their happier days here although they are broke. Jim writes the song "Love Street" while staying here about Pamela and the nearby Canyon Country Store. They do a lot of drugs and many dangerous things together always trying to scare each other. John and Robby also get a place together in Laurel Canyon.

MIRANDI BABITZ "They got a place in Laurel Canyon right next to the Country Store... My boyfriend and I lived with them for a while when we'd got thrown out of our place. We were all really scrapping by. I was the only one with a regular job. If anybody had anything we shared it - drugs or food or whatever. We took a lot of drugs. I was smoking dope in the morning and at night. The relationship between Pam and Jimmy was very similar to the one I had, which was that we were definitely a pair but it just wasn't cool to be in love or be too much of a couple. If there wasn't outside sexual activity there was innuendos of it. Pam and I both wanted things to be more traditional, but we went along with it because the guys were older. Actually we didn't have a whole lot to say about it in those days."
    "They had some really wild times,... They both really liked macabre things... spiders and black magic, things like that.  They used to scare each other. They'd play chicken. If somebody got too freaked out then they would go over to UCLA and get a B12 shot or whatever it was they were giving people to bring them down. It was pretty regular that Pam would get too freaked out. She'd scare him and he'd scare her back too much. He'd do things like turn off all the lights and creep around outside or pretend he'd been stabbed. They were always seeking that kind of thrill. But they did very dangerous things too. Like putting the car on the railroad tracks or driving with their eyes closed down Mulholland at night while on acid.  It was a little tense being around them sometimes. We were game for a lot of things, but they were a little gamer."

    While I was in the canyon country store I talked with the cashier who has worked here for a long time. His name is Dave LaVailla(sp). I asked him if he ever met Jim Morrison. He wasn't working at the store at the time Jim lived nearby but did see Jim on two occasions in LA. He told me he saw Jim at a rehearsal at The Whisky on an afternoon before their show (when I checked out The Whisky later this day there was open door rehearsals and bands moving in and out. You could just walk right in and listen for free, Very open door. Very cool. I knew exactly the scene that Dave was talking about when he met Jim this first time) He spoke of Jim as being extremely charismatic and giving off an enormous vibe of youth, energy and sex appeal - just naturally. It was magnetic. He was a star. He just oozed of life, he glowed and attracted all around him. Then years later he ran into Jim at a restaurant and he appeared just the opposite. Jim was very morose, bearded and much heavier. He said you could just see the pain and despair that his stardom has brought him and the life he had lived. He didn't seem happy, like a dark cloud was over his head. He said the change was miraculous in only a few years of living. It was very sad Dave said. You could read Jim like a book by his body language. He never tried to hide anything. He was who he was.

Thu. Dec. 8:  Jim Morrison's 23rd Birthday

Fri. Dec. 9 - Sat. 10: 
The Sea Witch - Hollywood, CA

Fri. Dec. 16 - Sat. 17: 
The Sea Witch - Hollywood, CA

Sat. Dec. 31: 
Private Residence - Montecite, CA (New Year's Eve)
    The Doors bring in the New Year playing at a private party - 1967 will be quite a year!

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