100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #54 The Doors – Riders On The Storm

Released: 1971

In the end, are we not all just multiple personalities tied up in one skin? Jim Morrison – estranged son, lover, philosopher, exhibitionist, drinker, drugger, would be Shaman – was no less complex than most humans, only it’s arguable more under the spotlight and closer to the distractions of a rock and roll lifestyle. Doors keyboardist Ray Manzerak – with whom Morrison had first visualised the band in 1965 – referred later to the two sides of the singer’s id; Jim, the affable, creative man he first met in Venice Beach and Jimbo, his substance abused, unpredictable, narcissistic and sometimes violent alter ego.

It would be the excesses of latter which would drive the group apart – drummer John Densmore recalled that even as Morrison called from Paris for their final conversation both he and the rest of the quartet were rehearsing with other musicians – but not before both the self effacing Jim and Messianic Jimbo had made them one of America’s most famous bands.

His and their swansong was LA Woman, an artistic and commercial renaissance birthed equally in the abandonment of prison-studios and the jettisoning of producer Paul Rothchild, who famously described what he’d heard as ‘cocktail music’. Riders on the Storm in a sense was that; a kaleidoscopic mix of jazz, blues, dream visions and LA’s darkness it was underpinned by Manzarek’s liquid keyboards and Robbie Krieger’s spectral guitar. Arguably the sixties last great track, it was offered up into a decade where nobody loved a hippie any more; Lizard King or quiet genius, whoever the real Jim Morrison was, he never got to identify himself, or enjoy it’s legacy.


    1. Like many people of my generation my introduction to The Doors was via Apocalypse Now! I think they leant themselves to parody too easily (And the biopic was rubbish) but they’ve got a greatest hits album to die for, Manzerak was brilliant.

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