Vinyl Records

The Doors Roadhouse Blues to Light My Fire

The DoorsFor the those of you who know me, I have been a life-long musician and have covered various artists. One of my high school buddies, Ricky Rowbotham, introduced me to The Doors circa 1981. Ricky is a fantastic bass player and taught me boogie woogie and swing bass lines that I still use to this day. His lessons were instrumental in moving me from the simple 1 – 5 bass patterns my dad taught me so I could back him up playing Bluegrass, to progressing in other musical directions.

Ricky loved The Doors and turned me onto them. Despite being 10 years past the death of Jim Morrison, I found the sound intriguing and the rebellious antics of Morrison was still fresh and relevant for us as high school teenagers. Honestly, I can’t exactly remember when I found out that The Doors as we know them today, did not have a bass player, and that Ray Manzarek kicked bass on his keyboard.

Roadhouse Blues

Another friend since that time is Andy Hymel and we have worked together since we were 15-years-old. I started off on drums, but eventually gave that up to concentrate on bass guitar because I sort of wanted to be in front and eventually sing.  Fast forward several years, ( I don’t know – 15 more years or so) and I wanted to cover Roadhouse Blues. To this day, Andy is a devout Beatles fan, and certainly admires one of my favorites, The Rolling Stones, but it seems like it took a while for him to get on board with covering a Doors tune. I could be completely wrong, but that is what I felt.

Notwithstanding, Roadhouse Blues is what it is, a standard 1-4-5  blues chord progression embellished with dynamic keyboard orchestration of Ray Manzerek and infused with the infectious vocals of the charismatic frontman, Jim Morrison.  Though I personally have limited vocal ability, it was the perfect “cock rock” fodder that I could pull off in venues offering us gigs.  We did it without keyboards, but the tune holds it own.

I have covered that song for many years and continue to do so to this day.  As of late, I have been performing it with a fantastic young keyboard player by the name of Jason Percle who is at least 25 years my junior. He can play the Manzarek stuff like a virtuoso, which makes me sound a lot better singing!

Morrison Hotel

Morrison Hotel

Morrison Hotel is the 5th album by The Doors which features “Road House Blues”. The other day, I purchased a book called “Rock Covers” by Robbie Busch, Jonathan Kirby, and Julius Wiedemann, which tells the history of the artwork and photography behind a comprehensive collection of rock and roll album covers.

The photograph of the Morrison Hotel album was taken by a gentleman named Henry Diltz, who tells his story of how he took the pictures. The Doors band was taken to this “funky” hotel somewhere in Los Angeles for a photo shoot, but was initially denied access by the hotel clerk to the window bearing Jim Morrison’s last named because he was afraid the controlling owner would not approve. When the clerk stepped out the lobby for a break, Diltz rushed the band in to the lobby behind the window as fast as possible to grab the shot which ultimately became the Morrison Hotel album cover.

Having successfully accomplished their mission, Jim Morrison said, “Let’s go get a drink.” They proceeded six blocks down the road to an area known as “Skid Row”, where than discovered a bar called “Hard Rock Cafe”. Henry Diltz took a picture of this bar which became the back cover of the Morris Hotel album.

When the album reached the shelves of record stores in England, it found it’s way into the hands of entrepreneurs planning the opening of a new cafe. Said entrepreneurs contacted The Doors management to request permission to use the name Hard Rock Cafe for their new enterprise, which is now an international empire!

LA Woman Doors

LA Woman is the 2nd Doors tune I covered singing with a band called The Liberators, featuring the aforementioned Jason Percle on keyboards. Young Jason recently graduated from my twice alma mater, The University of New Orleans, where my daughter also graduated last month 🙂 There is a video out there somewhere of one of my first performances, but I will spare you here in that 1.) I think it was my virgin voyage on that tune and 2.) I was quite a bit rounder than I am today, though that could reverse itself at any time if I quit going to Planet Fitness!

From what I have read, Jim Morrison did not exactly have all the best performances either at various stages of his relatively short career. In fact, Morrison’s last live performance was in my home town of New Orleans, Louisiana, at The Warehouse, where he reportedly had some sort of a breakdown and refused to finish the show.

In an effort to reclaim glory after this unfortunate performance, The Doors released the LA Woman album in 1971 which is arguably their best. They even added a real bass player, Jerry Scheff, who worked with Elvis Presley. Along with the single LA Woman, than album also featured “Love Her Madly” and “Riders on the Story”. The LA Woman album went on to be The Door’s second biggest album behind their self-titled debut album, The Doors, which featured “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” and “Light My Fire”

Light My FireLight My Fire

The last time our band “The Liberators” played together as a group was as a house band at a now defunct venue called “MoonDogs”. I never did learn the chords to “Light My Fire”, but attempted to sing it, without playing bass. Like Ray Manzarek, Jason Percle covered the keyboards and kicked bass with his left hand. TJ Sutton played guitar and Floyd Durand held it down on drums.

While I attempted to do my best Jim Morrison, I did fine on the first part of the tune, but didn’t quite have it on the raised pitch end due to lack of preparation. In reality, Jason threw the tune out one night and we never did actually practice it, but I should have leaned it after the first attempt. It wasn’t like we were getting paid very much, so it wasn’t exactly on the top of my list of priorities.

However, I did load Light My Fire into my I Heart Radio/Amazon Music and listened today as I was on the stepping machine at Planet Fitness, which is my new method of learning lyrics and pounding melodies into my head so that hopefully than come out of my mouth in tune when I attempt to sing them and literally “Light My Fire!”

Conclusion

The Doors did it their own way and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.  In 1998, “Light My Fire” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  In 2015, The Doors debut album was included in the National Recording Registry for it’s cultural and historical significance.

16 thoughts on “The Doors Roadhouse Blues to Light My Fire

  1. I love the flavour of history in your article, I like your decision to transit from being a drummer to becoming guitarist and the reason is genuine, you want to be in the forefront of things, you don’t want to watch things happening all the time, you actually want to make things happen, that’s cool. So far, I’m convinced that your knowledge with respect to the music industry is super amazing. The industry as evolved but history that connected the present and past is fascinating.

    1. Thank you, sir.  I may respectfully disagree that the industry has “evolved”, but that is only an opinion.  Nonetheless, I do appreciate your comments and may review something more current one day.  Who knows?  

  2. I believe in a lot of ways Jim Morrison was ahead of his time. I have been a big Morrison fan since my highschool days 30 plus yrs. Ghost song and People are Strange are two of my all time favorites. I am now listening to Break on Through thank you for the review.

    1. Thanks Cathy, I have had Break on Through stuck in my head ever since I decided to do this post!  Cool!  I appreciate your comments! 🙂

  3. Hello Nathang,I remember that I was still around 7 or 8 years old when the The Doors was introduced.  This is an awesome band and you mentioned the top hits and suddenly I was reminiscing the time where it is real music and great emotions.  I did not know that Hard Rock Cafe was inspired by the Morrison Hotel which was the 5th album of The Doors.  This is great information on one of the legends in rock and roll era.

    1. Thanks Francis, I just learned that myself.  My drummer buddy, knew all of this and more, when I mentioned my post, but he is somewhat of a music historian which is why I consult with him for this site.  I am glad you read and enjoyed the information!  

  4. The Doors are really one of the greatest bands of all time. Any lover of rock and roll will surely appreciate this band.  And it’s good to see all the recognition that they’ve gotten from displaying fine talent. I particularly like L.A woman, it sounds like a live letter to a big city in distress. One of the doors’ best songs and a wonderful achievement in rock n roll music.

    1. Thanks Louis!  I surely enjoy covering it live, though I am certainly no Jim Morrison.  There is joy in bringing back old favorites to folks from yesteryear!  LA Woman is definitely one of my favorites!  Thanks again! 

  5. A good combination of The Doors and your journey along with them. I did not know the Doors did not have a bass player. I don’t know much about them, but I am a Beatles fan. I liked the way you incorporated the share buttons on the bottom of the site. As well as individual site links to Jim Morrison and other members of the band and some songs. This makes a good history piece about the group. I hope you improve on your singing abilities. Nice work.

    1. Thanks Donna!  LOL!  We refer to my singing as “Barroom Quality” 🙂  I can pull off a descent  Jim Morrison if I practice a bit. Thank you for your inspiration!  

  6. Thanks for a great throwback, I do love rock music and these bands does really sound familiar to me, but I do know I watched rock and roll hall of fame Robby Krieger played some memorable electric guitar parts during his time with the Doors on YouTube . I remember tapping my feet to each rhythm he produced. Feel good to hear about these amazing bands again.

    1. Hey Seun, thanks for poppin’ in!  Robbie Krieger definitely has some memorable licks which greatly contributed to the unique sound of The Doors!  I appreciate your comments1  

  7. This was a wonderful read and a step back in history from the first person perspective that added a lot of depth to the story. The Doors has always been one of my favorite bands and I have some of their albums still in my collection. I like all three of the albums and the songs too that you deep dive into.

    As a youngster, I was in a band (high school). I could play guitar and piano at that time passably. We did rock and roll, and pretty much had a blast. I joined the military at 17, so the music fell to the wayside for years as life came into play (deployments, marriage, kids, selling my Harley, etc.) other than being a massive fan and collector of albums and music in quite a few genres.

    These days, I hang with a lot of musos and have a chance to enjoy their gigs in a variety of settings here in Dubai. They provide a lot of memories, as this post did, and I have to say that the Doors music and songs are only available in a couple of venues (where I stop by at as often as possible!).

    The Hard Rock Cafe tidbit was news to me, but a fascinating look into how one thing leads to another, and who knows what that might be! The Doors Morrison Hotel album has more than one claim to fame! That is cool and I will pass this one on to a hard Hard Rock Cafe fan (he has visited almost 100 outlets all over the globe). 

    It sounds like you are underplaying your voice, anyone that can handle Jim Morrison, with or without bass, is pretty strong and talented in my book! Thanks for the great read today, you started my morning off right. I now have some great fresh stories to tell my fellow music fans and musos I hang with!    

    1. You are the man, Dave!  I always love and appreciate your insight and comments!  For now I am going to have to switch gears because my next gig where I will have to contribute vocally is with a country band at a casino where I will cover a couple of Johnny Cash tunes, one Hank Williams, Sr., one Hank Williams, Jr. and a Charlies Daniels tune if I remember the set list correctly.  I need to get on that soon!  Anyway, thanks for always adding value to this site, Dave!!!   

  8. Very interesting history lesson. It is fun to know the little details behind things that became big hits, such as Hard Rock Cafe. It gives hope to the rest of us that one day a rushed one-shot photo shoot may end up being an icon for our pursuits. 🙂 You have a great way of relaying information.

    1. Thank you for your comments, Stephanie! Not exactly sure what you mean by “big hits, such as Hard Rock Cafe”, but O appreciate your comments nonetheless.

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