13 months, that’s how long it had been since Jim Morrison sat up on the roof of Dennis Jakob’s apartment building in June/July of 1965 taking acid (LSD) and attending a “fantastic rock concert in my head” writing down the songs he heard. In the course of those 13 months Morrison had gone from being a homeless kid with a notebook stuffed with songs/poems, finding film school friend Ray Manzarek and enlisting him in creating The Doors, cutting a demo record, getting John Densmore and Robby Krieger to join The Doors, journeyman work at The London Fog, then becoming house band at The Whisky a go-go, getting signed by Columbia records, getting dropped by Columbia, getting the attention of Elektra Records Jac Holzman, and producer Paul Rothchild, signing with Elektra, and the night Jim Morrison added the Oedipal section to The End getting The Doors thoroughly and finally fired from The Whisky.
To The Doors going into the studio on August 24, 1966 for the first time to record their self titled debut album, it must have seemed a whirlwind of events. Because The Doors had worked out most of the songs at the London Fog and The Whisky the recording of the album took only a week.
Originally, Break on Through included the line “she gets high” because Elektra feared it wouldn’t get airplay because the word “high” would be taken as a drug reference, so they edited out the “high.” In 2007, The Doors was released in a remastered CD, and it seems like Elektra might have done The Doors a favor editing out the “high” as it seems to break up the tension of the song, and when Jim yells “she gets…..high!” It seems intrusive. The Doors may have seen it that way too, because they performed the song the way it appeared on the album.
Paul Rothchild played an essential part of the recording process as was his (and the bands) willingness to experiment. On Twentieth Century Fox Rothchild had the band march on a wooden platform for a rhythm sound on the chorus.
One of the more famous stories of The Doors recording the first album is the afternoon they recorded The End. In that spirit of experimentation, Jim dropped acid to record the song, but after numerous attempts the song wasn’t coming out quite right, to the frustration of the band and Morrison repeating the mantra “kill the father, f**k the mother” (in more slurred tones) and finally shouting into the microphone “does anybody understand me?” Rothchild said he did and they sat and talked about The End and what it meant, ending the recording for the night, they decided to try the next afternoon. The next days recording went much smoother, Rothchild said it was one of the few moments as a producer that he became purely a spectator and it even seemed “the machines knew what to do.” After the nights recording Morrison moved by the moment of recording came back after everyone had left for the night, he scaled a fence, took off his boots and shirt (they were later found in the studio) and proceeded to douse the studio with a fire extinguisher, and when the studio staff returned the next morning found the studio and equipment covered in foam.
The Doors’ album wouldn’t be released until January of 1967, which released a whirlwind of its own that would culminate in Paris, 1971.
Note: The main source for this story is Break on Through by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky, although they list the recording of The Doors as Sept of 66.
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