The story of Rock n’ Roll and the story of LA are intertwined. Many other cities can claim a piece of rock history, but few places evoke the raw, dangerous and sometimes sleazy feeling of the music and its most powerful era more so than Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. And the undisputed founders and kings of the strip were The Doors.
The band was named after a book about tripping on mescaline, though their legendary front man Jim Morrison preferred LSD. Morrison’s education at UCLA film school, his predilection for off-beat poetry and philosophy and subsequent years living in Venice Beach provided the base material for the Doors unrivaled musical catalogue. The bohemian lifestyle of Morrison and bandmates Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densomre informed the sound and vibe of the Doors. It was equal parts psychedelic, vaudevillian and stone-cold jams – and it landed them a spot as the house band at The Strip’s Whiskey A Go Go.
After signing to Elektra Records in 1966, the Doors released 6 albums in 5 years and were propelled to international stardom. They took the hard-living ethos of the Sunset Strip with them wherever they traveled – Jim Morrison was the first rock musician to ever be arrested on stage during a performance. They also took the casual, blue collar vibe of their beatnik LA roots into true rock star style, with Morrison laying the foundation for generations of LA artists – from punk, to metal, to hip-hop to follow. The progression can easily be seen in Morrison’s eyewear. He went from preferring a utilitarian (but classic!) metal framed aviator to stylish chunky acetate frames that complimented his more flamboyant on-stage presence. Where Jim led, the counterculture followed, and by the mid 70’s front men the world over were working from his playbook.
The music kept getting bigger, as did the venues. Unfortunately, their front man’s drinking and rap sheet grew in proportion. Morrison’s untimely and mysterious death in Paris at the age of 27 cemented his place in history, and the Doors as one of the greatest bands of all times.