The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and John Densmore on drums. The band got its name, at Morrison's suggestion from the title of Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception, which itself was a reference to a quote made by William Blake, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." They were unique and among the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s, mostly because of Morrison's lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. After Morrison's death in 1971, the remaining members continued as a trio until disbanding in 1973.
The group signed with Elektra Records in 1966 and released its first album, The Doors, featuring the hit "Light My Fire", in 1967. The Doors released eight albums in five years. All but one hit the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum or better. Their self-titled debut album (1967) was their first in a series of Top 10 albums in the United States, followed by Strange Days (also 1967), Waiting for the Sun (1968), The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970), Absolutely Live (1970) and L.A. Woman (1971), with 20 Gold, 14 Platinum, 5 Multi-Platinum and 1 Diamond album awards in the United States alone. By the end of 1971, it was reported that the Doors had sold 4,190,457 albums domestically and 7,750,642 singles. The band had three million-selling singles in the U.S. with "Light My Fire", "Hello, I Love You" and "Touch Me". After Morrison's death in 1971, the surviving trio released two albums Other Voices and Full Circle with Manzarek and Krieger sharing lead vocals. The three members also collaborated on the spoken word recording of Morrison's An American Prayer in 1978 and on the "Orange County Suite" for a 1997 boxed set. Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore reunited in 2000 for an episode of VH-1's Storytellers and subsequently recorded Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors with a variety of vocalists.
Although the Doors' active career ended in 1973, their popularity has persisted. According to the RIAA, they have sold 33 million certified units in the US and over 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. The Doors have been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone, which ranked them 41st on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". The Doors were the first American band to accumulate eight consecutive gold and platinum LP's. In 2002, Manzarek and Krieger started playing together again, renaming themselves as the Doors of the 21st Century, with Ian Astbury of the Cult on vocals. Densmore opted to sit out and, along with the Morrison estate, sued the duo over proper use of the band's name and won. After a short time as Riders On the Storm, they settled on the name Manzarek-Krieger and continued to tour until Manzarek's death in 2013 at the age of 74.
Three of the band's studio albums, the self-titled debut, L.A. Woman, and Strange Days, were featured in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at positions 42, 362, and 407 respectively. According to The Washington Post's Martin Weil, the band rose to the center of the counterculture of the 1960s. The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
The Doors in 1966. From left to right: Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger.
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
The Doors began with a meeting between acquaintances Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, both of whom had attended the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, on Venice Beach in July 1965. Morrison told Manzarek he had been writing songs (Morrison said "I was taking notes at a fantastic rock'n'roll concert going on in my head") and with Manzarek's encouragement sang "Moonlight Drive". The members came from a varied musical background of jazz, rock, blues, and folk idioms.
Keyboardist Manzarek was in a band called Rick & the Ravens with his brothers Rick and Jim, while drummer John Densmore was playing with the Psychedelic Rangers and knew Manzarek from meditation classes. In August 1965, Densmore joined the group, which had been renamed the Doors. The five (Morrison having previously joined the band), along with bass player Patty Sullivan[nb 1] recorded a six-song demo on September 2, 1965 at World Pacific Studios, Los Angeles, California (officially made available much later in October 1997 on the Doors' Box Set CD release). This has circulated widely since then as a bootleg recording. The band took their name from the title of Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception, itself derived from a line in William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite".
In mid-1965, after Manzarek's two brothers left, the group recruited guitarist Robby Krieger and the best-known lineup – Morrison, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore – was complete.
From February to May 1966, the group was playing the Los Angeles club London Fog. The club was not as prestigious as the Whisky a Go Go and did not attract many customers. The Doors used the nearly empty club as an opportunity to hone and, in some cases, lengthen their songs and work "The End", "When the Music's Over" and "Light My Fire" into musical epics. In 2011, a 30-minute tape was discovered of the Doors performing at the London Fog.
The Doors soon graduated to the more esteemed Whisky a Go Go, where they were the house band (starting from May 1966), supporting acts including Van Morrison's group Them. On their last night together the two bands joined up for "In the Midnight Hour" and a twenty-minute jam session of Them's "Gloria". Prior to graduating to the Whisky a Go Go, Morrison went to many record labels trying to land a deal. He did score one at Columbia Records but it did not pan out.[nb 2]
On August 10, 1966, they were spotted by Elektra Records president Jac Holzman, who was present at the recommendation of Love singer Arthur Lee, whose group was with Elektra Records. After Holzman and producer Paul A. Rothchild saw two sets of the band playing at the Whisky a Go Go, they signed them to the Elektra Records label on August 18 – the start of a long and successful partnership with Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick. The Doors were fired from the Whisky on August 21, 1966 when Morrison added an explicit retelling and profanity-laden version of the Greek myth of Oedipus during "The End".
The band recorded their first album from August 24 to 31, 1966, at Sunset Sound Recording Studios. The Doors' self-titled debut LP was released in the first week of January 1967. It featured most of the major songs from their set, including the nearly 12-minute musical drama "The End".
In November 1966, Mark Abramson directed a promotional film for the lead single "Break On Through (To the Other Side)". To promote the single, the Doors made their television debut on a Los Angeles TV show called Boss City circa 1966, possibly early 1967, and then on a Los Angeles TV show called Shebang, miming to "Break On Through", on New Year's Day 1967. This clip has never been officially released by the Doors.
In early 1967 the Doors appeared on The Clay Cole Show (which aired on Saturday evenings at 6 pm on WPIX Channel 11 out of NYC) where they performed their single "Break On Through". Research has determined that the tapes were all wiped. The only shows that still exist are the final ones copied by an employee of the station, although this was long after the Doors' appearance. The Doors returned to The Clay Cole Show a second time on June 24 where they most likely performed "Light My Fire".
Since "Break on Through" was not very successful on the radio, the band turned to "Light My Fire". The problem with this song was that it was seven minutes long, so producer Paul Rothchild cut it down to three minutes by radically cutting the lengthy keyboard and guitar solos in the center section. "Light My Fire" became the first single from Elektra Records to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, selling over one million copies. "Light My Fire" was the first song ever written by Robby Krieger and the beginning of the band's success.
From March 7 to 11, 1967, the Doors performed at the Matrix Club in San Francisco, California. The March 7 and 10 shows were recorded by a co-owner of The Matrix, Peter Abram. These recordings are notable as they are among the earliest live recordings of the band to circulate. On November 18, 2008, the Doors published a compilation of these recordings, Live at the Matrix 1967, on the band's boutique Bright Midnight Archives label.
The Doors appeared on American television on August 25, 1967, guest-starring on the variety TV series Malibu U, performing "Light My Fire". They did not appear live. The band is seen on a beach and is performing the song in playback. The music video did not gain any commercial success and the performance was more or less forgotten. It was not until they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show that they gained attention on television.
The Doors made their international television debut in May 1967, recording a version of "The End" for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) at O'Keefe Centre in Toronto. But after its initial broadcasts, the performance remained unreleased except in bootleg form until the release of The Doors Soundstage Performances DVD in 2002. As "Light My Fire" climbed the charts in June and early July, the Doors were on the East Coast as an opening act for Simon and Garfunkel in Forest Hills, Queens, and as headliners in a Greenwich, Connecticut, high school auditorium.
On September 17, 1967, the Doors gave a memorable performance of "Light My Fire" on The Ed Sullivan Show. According to Ray Manzarek, network executives asked that the word "higher" be removed. The group appeared to acquiesce, but performed the song in its original form, because either they had never intended to comply with the request or Jim Morrison was nervous and forgot to make the change (Manzarek has given conflicting accounts). Either way, "higher" was sung out on national television, and the show's host, Ed Sullivan, canceled another six shows that had been planned. After the program's producer told the band they would never play on the show again, Jim Morrison reportedly replied: "Hey man. We just did the Sullivan Show."
On December 24, the Doors performed "Light My Fire" and "Moonlight Drive" live for The Jonathan Winters Show. Their performance was taped for later broadcast. From December 26 to 28, the group played at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. An excerpt taken from Stephen Davis' book on Jim Morrison (p. 219–220):
The next night at Winterland, a TV set was wheeled onstage during the Doors set so the band could see themselves on The Jonathan Winters Show. They stopped playing "Back Door Man" when their song came on. The audience watched the Doors watching themselves on TV. They finished the song when their bit was done, and Ray walked over and turned the TV off. The next night was their last ever in Winterland.
They played two more dates in Denver on December 30 and 31, 1967, capping off a year of almost constant touring.
The Doors spent several weeks in Sunset Studios in Los Angeles recording their second album, Strange Days, experimenting with the new technology, notably the Moog synthesizer they now had available. The commercial success of Strange Days was middling, peaking at number three on the Billboard album chart but quickly dropping, along with a series of underperforming singles. The chorus from the album's single "People Are Strange" inspired the name of the 2010 documentary of the Doors, When You're Strange.
Although session musician Larry Knechtel had been featured on bass on several tracks on the band's debut album, Strange Days was the first Doors album recorded with a studio musician on bass on most of the tracks, and this continued on all subsequent studio albums. Manzarek explained that his keyboard bass was well-suited for live situations but that it lacked the "articulation" needed for studio recording. Douglass Lubahn played on Strange Days and the next two albums; but the band used several other musicians for this role, often using more than one bassist on the same album. Kerry Magness, Leroy Vinnegar, Harvey Brooks, Ray Neopolitan, Lonnie Mack, Jerry Scheff, Jack Conrad (who played a major role in the post Morrison years touring with the group in 1971 and 1972), Chris Ethridge, Charles Larkey and Leland Sklar are credited as bassists who worked with the band.
On December 9, 1967, the Doors performed a now infamous concert at New Haven Arena in New Haven, Connecticut, which ended abruptly when Morrison was arrested by local police. Morrison became the first rock artist ever to be arrested onstage during a concert performance.
Morrison had been making out with a girl fan backstage in a bathroom shower stall prior to the start of the concert when a police officer happened upon them. Unaware that he was the lead singer of the band about to perform, the officer told Morrison and the girl to leave, to which Morrison said, "Eat it." The policeman took out a can of mace and warned Morrison, "Last chance", to which Morrison replied, "Last chance to eat it." There is some discrepancy as to what happened next: according to No One Here Gets Out Alive, the girl ran and Morrison was maced; but Manzarek recounts in his book that both Jim and the fan were sprayed.
The Doors' main act was delayed for an hour while Jim recovered, after which The Doors took the stage very late. According to an authenticated fan account that Robbie Krieger posted to his Facebook page, the police still did not consider the issue resolved, and wanted to charge him. Halfway through the first set, Morrison proceeded to create an improvised song (as depicted in the Oliver Stone movie) about his experience with the "little men in blue". It was an obscenity-laced account to the audience, describing what had happened backstage and taunting the police, who were surrounding the stage. The concert was abruptly ended when Morrison was dragged offstage by the police. The audience, which was already restless from waiting so long for the band to perform, became unruly. Morrison was taken to a local police station, photographed and booked on charges of inciting a riot, indecency and public obscenity. Charges against Morrison, as well as those against three journalists also arrested in the incident (Mike Zwerin, Yvonne Chabrier and Tim Page), were dropped several weeks later for lack of evidence.
Recording of the group's third album in April 1968 was marred by tension as a result of Morrison's increasing dependence on alcohol and prescription drugs, and the rejection of his new epic, "Celebration of the Lizard", by band producer Paul Rothchild, who deemed the work not commercial enough. Approaching the height of their popularity, The Doors played a series of outdoor shows that led to frenzied scenes between fans and police, particularly at Chicago Coliseum on May 10.
The band began to branch out from their initial form for this third LP. Because they had exhausted their original repertoire, they began writing new material. Waiting for the Sun became their first and only US No. 1 LP, and the single "Hello, I Love You" (one of the six songs performed by the band on their 1965 Aura Records demo) was their second US #1 single. Following the 1968 release of "Hello, I Love You", the publisher of the Kinks' 1964 hit "All Day and All of the Night" announced they were planning legal action against the Doors for copyright infringement; however, songwriter Ray Davies ultimately chose not to sue. Kinks guitarist Dave Davies was particularly irritated by the similarity. In concert, Morrison was occasionally dismissive of the song, leaving the vocals to Manzarek, as can be seen in the documentary The Doors Are Open.
A month after a riotous concert at the Singer Bowl in New York, the group flew to Britain for their first performance outside of North America. They held a press conference at the ICA Gallery in London and played shows at the Roundhouse. The results of the trip were broadcast on Granada TV's The Doors Are Open, later released on video. They played dates in Europe, along with Jefferson Airplane, including a show in Amsterdam where Morrison collapsed on stage after a drug binge.
The group flew back to the US and played nine more US dates before returning to work in November on their fourth LP. They ended the year with a successful new single, "Touch Me" (released in December 1968), which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 in the Cashbox Top 100 in early 1969 (the band's third and last American number-one single). They started 1969 with a sold-out show on January 24 at Madison Square Garden.
While the band was trying to maintain their previous momentum, efforts to expand their sound gave the album an experimental feel, causing critics to attack their musical integrity. According to John Densmore in his biography Riders On The Storm individual writing credits were noted for the first time because of Morrison's reluctance to sing the lyrics of Robby Krieger's song "Tell All the People". Morrison's drinking made him difficult and unreliable, and the recording sessions dragged on for months. Studio costs piled up, and the Doors came close to disintegrating. Despite all this, the album was immensely successful, becoming the band's fourth hit album.
On March 1, 1969, at the Dinner Key Auditorium in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, the Doors gave the most controversial performance of their career, one that nearly "derailed the band". The auditorium was a converted seaplane hangar that had no air conditioning on that hot night, and the seats had been removed by the promoter in order to boost ticket sales.
Morrison had been drinking all day and had missed connecting flights to Miami, and by the time he eventually arrived, the concert was over an hour late in starting, and he was, according to Manzarek, "overly fortified with alcohol".  The restless crowd of 12,000, packed into a facility designed to hold 7,000, was subjected to undue silences in Morrison's singing straining the music from the beginning of the performance. Morrison had recently attended a play by an experimental theater group the Living Theatre and was inspired by their "antagonistic" style of performance art. Morrison taunted the crowd with messages of both love and hate, saying, "Love me. I can't take it no more without no good love. I want some lovin'. Ain't nobody gonna love my ass?" and alternately, "You're all a bunch of fuckin' idiots!" and screaming "What are you gonna do about it?" over and over again. As the band began their second number, "Touch Me", Morrison started shouting in protest forcing the band to a halt. At one point, Morrison removed the hat of an onstage police officer and threw it into the crowd; the officer, in turn, removed Morrison's hat and threw it. Manager Bill Siddons recalled, "The gig was a bizarre, circus-like thing, there was this guy carrying a sheep and the wildest people that I'd ever seen". Equipment chief Vince Treanor said, "Somebody jumped up and poured champagne on Jim so he took his shirt off, he was soaking wet. 'Let's see a little skin, let's get naked,' he said, and the audience started taking their clothes off." Having removed his shirt, Morrison held it in front of his groin area and started to make hand movements behind it. Manzarek later described the incident as a mass "religious hallucination".
On March 5, the Dade County Sheriff's office issued a warrant for Morrison's arrest, claiming Morrison deliberately exposed his penis while on stage, shouted obscenities to the crowd, simulated oral sex on guitarist Robby Krieger, and was drunk at the time of his performance. Morrison turned down a plea bargain that required the Doors to perform a free Miami concert. He was later convicted, sentenced to six months in jail, with hard labor, and ordered to pay a $500 fine. Morrison remained free, pending an appeal of his conviction, and would die before the matter was legally resolved. In 2007 Florida Governor Charlie Crist suggested the possibility of a posthumous pardon for Morrison, which was announced as successful on December 9, 2010. Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek have denied the allegation that Morrison exposed himself on stage that night.
During the recording of their next album in November 1969, Morrison once again found himself in trouble with the law after harassing airline staff during a flight to Phoenix, Arizona to see the Rolling Stones in concert. Both Morrison and his friend and traveling companion Tom Baker were charged with "interfering with the flight of an intercontinental aircraft and public drunkenness". If convicted of the most serious charge, Morrison could have faced a ten-year federal prison sentence for the incident. The charges were dropped in April 1970 after an airline stewardess reversed her testimony to say she mistakenly identified Morrison as Baker.
On July 21, 1969, The Doors gave two concerts at the Aquarius Theatre on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. A so-called "private rehearsal" without an audience was also taped at the venue a day later. This was only a few months after the "Miami incident" in March of that year. Of the songs performed with an audience, "Universal Mind" and the "Celebration of the Lizard" suite were released on the Doors' 1970 Absolutely Live album, whereas "You Make Me Real" was released on Alive, She Cried in 1983. Further, the Van Morrison track, "Gloria", which was performed and recorded during the audience-less rehearsal, was also released on Alive, She Cried. Both the first and second shows along with the rehearsal the following day were released in 2001. It was at these shows that Morrison issued his poem, "Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased", a poem for the recently deceased former Rolling Stones guitarist and founder, who was a friend of the band, Manzarek and Morrison in particular.
The Doors staged a return to form with their 1970 LP Morrison Hotel, their fifth album. Featuring a consistent hard rock sound, the album's opener was "Roadhouse Blues". The record reached No. 4 in the United States and revived their status among their core fanbase and the rock press. Dave Marsh, the editor of Creem magazine, said of the album: "the most horrifying rock and roll I have ever heard. When they're good, they're simply unbeatable. I know this is the best record I've listened to ... so far". Rock Magazine called it "without any doubt their ballsiest (and best) album to date". Circus magazine praised it as "possibly the best album yet from the Doors" and "good hard, evil rock, and one of the best albums released this decade". The album also saw Jim Morrison returning as main songwriter, writing or co-writing all of the album's tracks. The 40th Anniversary CD reissue of Morrison Hotel contains outtakes and alternate takes, including different versions of "The Spy" and "Roadhouse Blues" (with Lonnie Mack on bass guitar and the Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian on harmonica).
July 1970 saw the release of the Doors' first live album, Absolutely Live.
The band continued to perform at arenas throughout the summer. Morrison faced trial in Miami in August, but the group made it to the Isle of Wight Festival on August 29. They performed alongside Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Joni Mitchell, Jethro Tull, Taste, Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Sly and the Family Stone. Two songs from the show were featured in the 1995 documentary Message to Love.
On December 8, 1970, his 27th birthday, Morrison recorded another poetry session. Part of this would end up on An American Prayer in 1978 with music, and is currently in the possession of the Courson family. Shortly thereafter, a tour to promote their upcoming album would comprise only three dates. Two concerts were held in Dallas, Texas on December 11. During the Doors' last public performance with Morrison, at The Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 12, 1970, Morrison apparently had a breakdown on stage. Midway through the set he slammed the microphone numerous times into the stage floor until the platform beneath was destroyed, then sat down and refused to perform for the remainder of the show. Drummer John Densmore recalls the incident in his biography Riders On the Storm, where, after the show he met with Ray and Robby; they decided to end their live act, citing their mutual agreement that Morrison was ready to retire from performing.
Despite Morrison's conviction and the fallout from their appearance in New Orleans, The Doors set out to reclaim their status as a premier act with L.A. Woman in 1971. The album included rhythm guitarist Marc Benno on several tracks and prominently featured bassist Jerry Scheff, best known for his work in Elvis Presley's TCB Band. Despite a comparatively low Billboard chart peak at #9, L.A. Woman contained two Top 20 hits and went on to be their second best-selling studio album, surpassed in sales only by their debut. The album explored their R&B roots, although during rehearsals they had a falling-out with Paul Rothchild, who was dissatisfied with the band's effort. Denouncing "Love Her Madly" as "cocktail lounge music", he quit and handed the production to Bruce Botnick and the Doors.
The title track and two singles ("Love Her Madly" and "Riders on the Storm") remain mainstays of rock radio programming, with the last of these being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for its special significance to recorded music. In the song "L.A. Woman", Jim Morrison scrambles the letters of his own name to chant "Mr. Mojo Risin". During the sessions, a short clip of the band performing "Crawling King Snake" was filmed. As far as is known, this is the last clip of the Doors performing with Morrison.
On March 13, 1971, following the recording of L.A. Woman, Morrison took a leave of absence from the Doors and moved to Paris with Pamela Courson. He had visited the city the previous summer and was interested in moving there to become a writer in exile.
Morrison was found dead in a bathtub on July 3, 1971, in Paris by his girlfriend Pamela Courson. Pursuant to French law, no autopsy was performed because the medical examiner claimed to have found no evidence of foul play. The absence of an official autopsy and the death certificate's having no reason of death besides heart failure, have left many questions regarding the cause of death. Morrison was buried in the "Poets' Corner" of Père Lachaise Cemetery on July 7. The epitaph on his headstone bears the Greek inscription "ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ", literally meaning "According to his own daimōn" and usually interpreted as "True to his own spirit".
The surviving members of the Doors continued for some time, initially considering replacing Morrison with a new singer. Instead, Krieger and Manzarek took over on vocals and the Doors released two more albums before disbanding. The recording of Other Voices took place from June to August 1971, and the album was released in October 1971. The LP featured the single "Tightrope Ride", which received some airplay.
The trio began performing again with additional supporting members on Friday, November 12, 1971 at Pershing Municipal Auditorium in Lincoln, Nebraska, followed by shows in Carnegie Hall on November 23, 1971, and the Hollywood Palladium on November 26, 1971.
The recordings for Full Circle took place during the spring of 1972, and the album was released in August 1972. The last album expanded into jazz territory. While neither album has been reissued on CD in the United States, they have been released on 2-on-1 CDs in Germany and Russia.
For the tours during this period, the Doors enlisted Jack Conrad on bass (who had played on several tracks on both "Other Voices" and "Full Circle") as well as Bobby Ray Henson on rhythm guitar. They began a European tour covering France, Germany, the Netherlands, and England beginning in May. The fruit of this effort can be seen in their appearance on the German show Beat-Club of which many high quality sources can be found online.
The group disbanded in 1973 and Krieger and Densmore formed the Butts Band from 1973 to 1975. Krieger, Manzarek and Densmore reunited in 1978 for An American Prayer, 1993 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1997 in the studio to complete the Morrison penned "Orange County Suite" and 2000 for VH1's Storytellers: A Celebration and on the tribute album Stoned Immaculate: The Music of the Doors, which featured band members playing alongside guest performers as well as recording new music.
The third post-Morrison album, An American Prayer, was released in 1978. It consisted of the band adding musical backing tracks to previously recorded spoken word performances of Morrison reciting his poetry. The record was a commercial success, acquiring a platinum certificate. An American Prayer was re-mastered and re-released with bonus tracks in 1995.
In 1993, the Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For the ceremony Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore reunited once again to perform "Roadhouse Blues", "Break On Through" and "Light My Fire". Eddie Vedder filled in on lead vocals, while Don Was played bass.
For the 1997 boxed set, the surviving members of the Doors once again reunited to complete "Orange County Suite". The track was one that Morrison had written and recorded, providing vocals and piano.
The Doors reunited in 2000 to perform on VH1's Storytellers. For the live performance, the band was joined by Angelo Barbera by numerous guest vocalists, including Ian Astbury (of the Cult), Scott Weiland, Scott Stapp, Perry Farrell, Pat Monahan and Travis Meeks. Following the recording the Storytellers: A Celebration, the band members joined to record music for the Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors tribute album. These sessions also yielded new songs credited to the Doors; "Under Waterfall" and "The Cosmic Movie." Astbury became lead singer of the Doors of the 21st Century in 2002. The group featured original Doors members Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek.
On May 29, 2007, Perry Farrell's group the Satellite Party released its first album Ultra Payloaded on Columbia Records. The album features "Woman in the Window", a new song with music and a pre-recorded vocal performance provided by Jim Morrison.
"I like to say this is the first new Doors track of the 21st century", Ray Manzarek said of a new song he recorded with Robby Krieger, John Densmore and DJ/producer Skrillex (Sonny Moore). The recording session and song are part of a documentary film, Re:GENERATION, that recruited five popular DJs/producers to work with artists from five separate genres and had them record new music. Manzarek and Skrillex had an immediate musical connection. "Sonny plays his beat, all he had to do was play the one thing. I listened to it and I said, ‘Holy shit, that's strong,’" Manzarek says. "Basically, it's a variation on ‘Milestones’, by Miles Davis, and if I do say so myself, sounds f**king great, hot as hell." The track, called "Breakn' a Sweat", was included on Skrillex's EP Bangarang.
In 2013, the remaining members of the Doors recorded with rapper Tech N9ne for the song "Strange 2013", appearing on his album Something Else, which features new instrumentation by the band and samples of Jim Morrison's vocals from the song "Strange Days".
February 12, 2016, at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, John Densmore and Robby Krieger reunited for the first time in 15 years to perform in tribute to Ray and benefit Stand Up to Cancer. That day would have been Ray's 76th birthday. The night featured Exene Cervenka and John Doe of the band X, Rami Jaffee of the Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Pilots’ Robert Deleo, Jane's Addiction's Stephen Perkins, Emily Armstrong of Dead Sara, Andrew Watt, among others.
Krieger and Densmore formed the Butts Band in 1973, but disbanded in 1975 after two albums. Phil Chen, who played bass on the band's second album, would later join Robby once again with Manzarek–Krieger.
Manzarek made three solo albums from 1974 to 1983 and formed a band called Nite City in 1975, which released two albums from 1977 to 1978. Krieger released six solo albums from 1977 to 2010. All of the ex-Doors solo albums have met with mixed reviews. In recent years Densmore formed a jazz band called Tribaljazz and they released a self-titled album in 2006.
In 2002, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger formed a new version of the Doors which they called the Doors of the 21st Century. After legal battles over use of the Doors name with drummer John Densmore, they changed their name several times and ultimately toured under the name "Manzarek–Krieger" or "Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of the Doors". The group was dedicated to performing the music of the Doors and Jim Morrison. John Densmore refused to participate because of Morrison's absence, although Manzarek and Krieger always invited him. On May 20, 2013, Ray Manzarek died of complications related to bile duct cancer.
Beginning in the late 1970s, there was a sustained revival of interest in the Doors which created a new generation of fans. The origin of the revival is traced to the release of the album An American Prayer in late 1978 which contained a live version of "Roadhouse Blues" that received considerable airplay on album-oriented rock radio stations. In 1979 the song "The End" was featured in dramatic fashion in the film Apocalypse Now and the following year a best-selling biography of Morrison, No One Here Gets Out Alive, was published. The Doors' first album, The Doors, re-entered the Billboard 200 album chart in September 1980 and Elektra Records reported the Doors' albums were selling better than in any year since their original release. In response a new compilation album, Greatest Hits, was released in October 1980. The album peaked at No. 17 in Billboard and remained on the chart for nearly two years.
The revival continued in 1983 with the release of Alive, She Cried, an album of previously unreleased live recordings. The track "Gloria" reached No. 18 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart and the video was in heavy rotation on MTV. Another compilation album, The Best of the Doors was released in 1987 and went on to be certified Diamond in 2007 by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of 10 million certified units.
A second revival, attracting another generation of fans, occurred in 1991 following the release of the film The Doors, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Val Kilmer as Morrison. Stone created the script from over a hundred interviews of people who were in Jim Morrison's life. He designed the movie by picking the songs and then adding the appropriate scripts to them. The original band members did not like the film's portrayal of the events. In the book The Doors, Manzarek states, "That Oliver Stone thing did real damage to the guy I knew: Jim Morrison, the poet." In addition, Manzarek claims that he wanted the movie to be about all four members of the band, not only Morrison. Densmore said, "A third of it's fiction." In the same volume, Krieger agrees with the other two, but also says, "It could have been a lot worse." The film's soundtrack album reached No. 8 on the Billboard album chart and Greatest Hits and The Best of the Doors re-entered the chart, with the latter reaching a new peak position of No. 32.