CHECKING BACK IN TO MORRISON HOTEL
GOLDMINE|December 2020
A DELUXE ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF THE DOORS’ MORRISON HOTEL WILL HAVE FANS WANTING TO REVISIT THE HISTORY BEHIND AN ICONIC CLASSIC ROCK ALBUM. GUITARIST ROBBY KRIEGER GIVES US A PERSONAL TOUR AROUND THE MUSIC.
GILLIAN G. GAAR

When The Doors entered Elektra Sound Recorders on November 4, 1969, they weren’t just starting work on their fifth album. They were also trying to resuscitate their career. And Morrison Hotel, released in February 1970, did just that. The group sounded newly revitalized and invigorated, from the rousing opening of “Roadhouse Blues” to the bluesy sign-offof “Maggie M’Gill.” Even the album’s cover art was destined to become iconic.

“It was a great album to record,” keyboardist Ray Manzarek remembered in his memoir, Light My Fire: My Life With The Doors. For the 50th anniversary of the album’s release, a new reissue, released in October, features revamped sound, a second CD of previously unreleased outtakes and the album on 180 gram vinyl. It’s The Doors getting back to basics, after the orchestral work of their previous album, The Soft Parade.

1969 had been a rough year for the group. After what was hailed as a “triumphant” return to New York in January, the band played the first date of what was supposed to be a U.S. tour on March 1 in Miami. The show ended in chaos, with lead singer Jim Morrison thrown off the rickety stage at the end, then leading the audience in a human chain around the venue. As the result of complaints, the police issued an arrest warrant on March 5, charging Morrison with drunkenness, open profanity, lewd and lascivious behavior, and indecent exposure.

The backlash was immediate. The tour was canceled. Morrison was also charged with “interstate flight,” even though the Miami warrant hadn’t been issued until after he’d already left Florida. To deal with that charge, Morrison turned himself in to the FBI’s L.A. office on April 4, where he was arrested and released on $5,000 bail; by the end of the month, the charge would be dropped. After further negotiations, Morrison agreed to turn himself in to the Miami authorities on November 9, where he was arrested and released on bail. A trial was set for the following year.

After a few months of laying low, the band began playing shows again in June, and their fourth album, The Soft Parade, was released in July 1969. Though it charted lower than their previous albums, peaking at No. 6, it still went gold (and eventually platinum), and produced another classic single in “Touch Me.” The group then planned to release a live album and played three live shows at the Aquarius Theater in Hollywood on July 21 and 22. The group hoped to have more shows to work with for the live album, but the ongoing controversy over the Miami debacle made promoters hesitant to book them.

“The problem was, we couldn’t play live much,” says Robby Krieger, the band’s guitarist. “We’d had a bunch of shows set up, and they all got canceled. Therefore, it wasn’t too easy to do a live album.

“Now, when we did Absolutely Live (1970), that was a combination of maybe 12 different shows — that’s how you cheat,” he jokes. “It wouldn’t have been a bad idea just to do a live album of one show. That’s probably what we should’ve done.”

So it was decided to make a new studio album. Morrison had spoken about the kind of music he wanted to make in an interview with his future biographer, Jerry Hopkins, of Rolling Stone, telling him, “I like singing blues, these free, long blues trips where there’s no specific beginning or end. It just gets into a groove and I can just keep making up things. … You know, just starting on blues and just seeing where it takes us.”

“Blues trips” would definitely play a major role in Morrison Hotel, with the band also wanting to adopt a simpler approach to making a record. “The Soft Parade, it just took forever,” says Krieger, “and we were saddled with having to arrange everything, the horns and strings. It was just more work than we thought it would be. So Morrison Hotel was kind of, ‘Oh boy, let’s just have fun,’ and not have to worry about adding all these strings and horns and stuff. I think probably the most fun album we did was without (producer)

Paul (Rothchild); the L.A. Woman album, which we did by ourselves with (engineer) Bruce Botnick. And Morrison Hotel was kind of like that, in that everything was a lot quicker. And Paul, I think, was more relaxed as well.”

Drummer John Densmore in particular had tired of Rothchild’s demands for take after take on Soft Parade. “Well, Paul was always like that, especially during that album, for some reason,” Krieger agrees. “Especially drum-wise. He would always take forever to get the drum sound. Poor John would be sitting there hitting the snare drum for an hour; ‘We’ve gotta get this sound better!’ But you can’t complain about Paul’s results.”

Some accounts of the sessions suggest that they were fraught, with Morrison drunk much of the time, not capable of coming up with lyrics, and leaving his bandmates to pick up the slack. But in Krieger’s view, such behavior was more common to the Waiting for the Sun sessions. “That’s when Jim started drinking a lot,” he says. “Morrison Hotel to me was more of a relief from the previous album, and to me, it was more fun.”

“Roadhouse Blues,” the album’s opening track, gets the ball rolling. The song’s loose feeling is due to the fact that it came together out of a jam. “Out of a jam,” Krieger confirms. “Jim was all about the blues at that time. He really, for some reason, was adamant that we do some blues on this album. And ‘Roadhouse’ was just the epitome of that. I just started playing this riff— dum da dum da dum da diddly diddly — and he just came up with those words. I don’t know where from. But he didn’t seem to be groping for words, that’s for sure. I think the words are great.

“I think he was talking about this place that was actually down the street from our studio where we rehearsed,” he continues. “I forget the name of it, but it was down towards the Troubadour. And Jim spent quite a bit of time there with some of his drinking buddies.”

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GOLDMINEView All

THE GRAND POOBAH!

SINCE THEIR INCARNATION in the early 1970s, the band Poobah have recorded over a dozen albums with various lineups, while openi ng for some of rock and roll’s biggest names.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

THE MAKING OF PEARL

JANIS JOPLIN IN 1970: A NEW B AND AND THE MAKING OF HER CLASSIC ALBUM, PEARL.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

There Must Have Been Something in the Water

If The Beatles never happened, if the British invasion never occurred, then music fans around the world would more than likely never have been exposed to some of the finest white blues singers that the U.K. produced between 1964 and 1970.

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

The SAGA Continues

SAGA WERE NOT THE ONLY band to make an album during the pandemic — far from it.

9 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

Ten Years After MORE THAN 50 YEARS LATER

DRUMMER RIC LEE TALKS TO GOLDMINE ABOUT A TEN YEARS AFTER DELUXE EDITION OF THE A STING IN THE TALE ALBUM AND HIS RECENTLY RELEASED MEMOIR, FROM HEADSTOCKS TO WOODSTOCK.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

SUZI QUATRO IS BACK!

WITH A NEW ALBUM, THE DEVIL IN ME, THIS PIONEERING FEMALE ROCKER REMAINS AS DRIVEN AND DETERMINED AS EVER

8 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

RE-SHAKE & RE-MAKE

WITH THE RERELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM, SHAKE YOUR MONEY MAKER, THE BLACK CROWES FLY HIGH BY REFLECTING ON THEIR ROOTS.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

LOVE FOR PEARL

2021 will be a big year for fans of Janis Joplin. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is curating a special exhibit devoted to her that is scheduled to open in May.

7 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

Q&A WITH JANIS' SIBLINGS, LAURA AND MICHAEL JOPLIN

Q&A WITH JANIS’ SIBLINGS, LAURA AND MICHAEL JOPLIN

4 mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021

CHERISHING CITY TO CITY A timeless classic by GERRY RAFFERTY

It’s early 1978 and the new single by Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, “Baker Street,” is blasting out on the airwaves on my small transistor radio.

10+ mins read
GOLDMINE
April 2021
RELATED STORIES

E-MONEY: 3 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU BUY CRYPTO

Investing in cryptocurrency can be as easy as a few taps on your phone, and with crypto all over the news and coming up in conversations with friends, it’s tempting to dive right in. However, depending on your financial situation and appetite for investment risk, crypto might not be an appropriate investment for you right now — or ever.

3 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #512

It Was Stuffed With Unforgettable Co-workers

WORKING WITH: TONI MORRISON, 1960S–1980S

7 mins read
New York magazine
April 26 - May 9, 2021

AUSTRALIA PLANS TO SPEND $417M ON HYDROGEN, CARBON CAPTURE

Australia’s prime minister has proposed spending an extra 539 million Australian dollars ($417 million) on hydrogen and carbon sequestration projects, seeking to burnish his government’s green credentials ahead of a climate summit to be hosted by President Joe Biden.

3 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #495

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS BING COULD REPLACE GOOGLE

Australia’s prime minister said that Microsoft is confident it can fill the void if Google carries out its threat to remove its search engine from Australia.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #484

CHARLOTTE HAUNTS

Charlotte buildings are dull and devoid of character, you say? You’ve not experienced the wraiths that congregate at the century-old theater, or the deathless matron of the college campus that predates the Civil War, or the forlorn presence that lurks in the Irish pub. Happy Halloween, everyone. Who’ll come knocking on your door?

9 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
October 2020

The Atlanta Sex Toy Magnate Who Can't Stop Picking Fights

MICHAEL MORRISON USED TO BE A BOXER. NOW HE BRAWLS WITH ZONING BOARDS AND TAX COLLECTORS.

10+ mins read
Reason magazine
December 2020

The Changeling

WITH THE RITUAL BEGINS AT SUNDOWN, ROBBY KRIEGER OPENS THE DOORS TO HIS JAZZ MUSE

5 mins read
Guitar World
November 2020

COWA BUNGA!

THE SEXIEST ORTHOPEDIC SHOE EVER

4 mins read
Street Rodder
February 2020

Got Your Back

Durb Morrison shares how tattoo artists can save their backs and prolong their careers

9 mins read
Inked
November 2019

Cow's seaweed diet is a gas

COWS may be fed North Sea seaweed in the latest bid to make them “greener”.

1 min read
Daily Mirror
November 10, 2021