How The Doors made ten albums with a dead Jim Morrison

When Jim Morrison died in 1971, the Doors were in a period of their career which is commonly referred to as the crisis point.Rolling Stone cover, August 1971 (Jim Morrison)

They had a number of years when they were experimental; played small venues; didn’t have a record contract with a major label. Nobody much outside their circle of friends went to see them.

They also had a number of years when they surfed the wave of festivals, outdoor concerts, TV shows, tours of the USA and Europe and Japan, had chart success across the world and lived the dream.

Then they reached the point where that workload stopped being attractive. They relaxed.

Not a bad thing – they had worked hard to get where they were and were all a little wacked out.

But having that success made it hard for them to get into the studio to record new material.

Jim Morrison was living in Paris, for a start, and was having trouble with his drinking, leading to ill-health.

As for the others, as they readily admit in various biographies, they were soaking up all sorts of recreational drugs, smoking and toking and injecting themselves with unregulated substances, which is not smart in itself.

While their creativity as individuals roamed new territories, the output from the Doors plummeted. How the heck do you produce a new album when you haven’t played together for months? And don’t particularly want to?

Album art for the Doors, Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine

Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine – a masterpiece in two parts (click to visit allmusic to hear samples)

When I first had enough money to buy music, I was limited by the amount of freight I could carry with me. I had no transport and relied on trains and buses to get me to the remote out-of-the-way places where I worked.

Everything I took with me, including my music, had to be portable. (This was before wi-fi and 3G and iPods, remember. Back in the 1980s.)

I discovered the Doors. I loved their music. I bought every cassette I could find that had a Doors album on it. And about seven albums in, I discovered something which stopped me buying any more.

The Doors didn’t record ten or twenty albums before Jim Morrison died.

They recorded six.

But if you look at the lists, you’ll see many more than six albums listed for the Doors. As Wikipedia has it:

The discography of the American rock band The Doors consists of nine studio albums, four live albums, twenty-two compilations, eighteen Bright Midnight Archives and twenty-one singles. The list also includes fourteen video albums, a bibliography, and a filmography.

How come?

Live performances. Concerts. Compilations. Recordings of album tracks made during tv shows

Japanese albums with slightly different running orders or different cover art.

German albums with restricted access because they came out in West Berlin and weren’t available to East Germany (remember the DDR?).

And, of the compilation albums, the outstanding Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine.

I remember being pissed off at that, because the cassettes only had nine tracks on each and it meant I had to carry two cassettes for one album.

Bummer.

The remaining albums were repurposed, reimagined, repackaged compilations of tracks from the previous studio albums.

After Jimbo died, the sales of the Doors albums rose exponentially, as they always do when a star dies.

It happened with John Lennon, it happened with Michael Jackson, it happened with Kurt Cobain. It happened in 2011 with Amy Winehouse.

The record company or the manager of the remaining Doors or the producer – somebody – realised there was a way to cash in on this notoriety, even though there would be no new Doors tracks with Jim Morrison’s voice.

FFS, we even had a Doors tour recently where there was another singer doing the Jimbo bit. Old tracks, favourites, redone.

And now the bit that means a lot to writers.

If you have a set of short stories up for sale, you can combine them into collections. I have ten shorts in the Cuckoo Club Archives, and I have two “Tales from…” volumes.

I tried to design them to look like the proceedings of a learned society, to add to the overall feel of the universe, and I’m trying to work out how to produce a 10-story volume (it might have to be 12 stories, so it’s like an annual report).

But once I have another couple of dozen of those short stories, I can start to go all Doors on them.

Themed collections: rivers, London, specific characters, Russia, Europe, Africa, Asia, 19th century, prehistory…

Five stories in each volume. Ten stories in a larger volume. Twenty, twenty-five, fifty stories in an omnibus.

Novels with short stories that provide background details.

Novellas with short stories that have a similar theme, or a shared character, or location.

Whatever takes my fancy. Not to rip people off, but to spread the works around more readers, so that if you find my work through a short story about Thailand, for example, you can find other stories with that theme or character.

It’s not something that will happen overnight. It’s a big programme, and each story is a project within it, and has correspondences and links I have to identify and match up.

But is it fun?

Oh yes indeedy.

P.S. Come back next year and see how far I’ve got.

Published in: on March 27, 2012 at 12:00 am  Comments (3)  
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3 Comments

  1. Jim influenced my art my entire life with his macabre and surreal lyrics and poetry. You can see my portrait of the Lizard King I created in memoriam recently on the 40th anniversary of his death. It’s on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/07/celebration-of-lizard-king-jim-morrison.html

    • Hi there Brandt! Thanks for commenting. You have some spiffy artwork on your blog. Nice!
      Lee.

  2. […] aim, as I’ve said before, is a body of work. And with that in mind, I found some interesting echoes in books I’ve read […]


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