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Jim Morrison and The Doors – When The Music’s Over

In 1967 I was in my second year at college in Woodland Hills, California. About twenty miles north of Hollywood – the entertainment capital of the world. I was the photo editor of the college newspaper “The Roundup”.

One day in the darkroom while I was developing a roll of film I thought I came up with a great idea. I called a few record companies and asked if I could, with a journalist student friend, interview and photograph a few of their rock and roll bands. Plus, I wanted some free records.

To my surprise Elektra Records was one of the first record companies to return my call. They asked if I would like to go into the recording studio to photograph this new group… The Doors. The group was in the middle of recording their second album “Strange Days”. At this time in April of 1967 was when I first heard of a group called The Doors. A DJ named Dave Diamond was the only DJ in Los Angeles playing a seven minute song called “Light My Fire”.

Early one afternoon in May I arrived at Sunset Sound Recording Studios. I remember being a bit nervous. When we pulled into the parking lot of Sunset Sound Recording Studio we found Jim Morrison leaning on the gray brick wall and staring right at us. For the most part I just wanted to stay in the background, taking a few wide angle photos of the band working and tuning their instruments.

The Doors had solidly established themselves as the hottest group in Los Angeles. As we said hello to Morrison we went inside the recording studio and introduced ourselves to Paul Rothchild, The Doors producer. Things were getting exciting.

As we sat down in the control room, the instrumental for “I Can’t See Your Face In My Mind” was being played back. The music spilled into the room from several large stereo speakers mounted over the picture window that divided the recording studio. When Paul Rothchild had Jim record his voice over the rich textured music, Morrison liked the lights turned low as he sang the song. Ray Manzarek had said in an interview that The Doors message was simple: “Just groove. To groove to the music.” That was The Doors mantra and it was true.

After a few hours Paul Rothchild called for a break and we went outside on Sunset Boulevard and I was able to get a few photos of the band on Sunset Boulevard.

I went on to photograph the band two more times. The last concert I photographed The Doors was May 1968 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

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