John interview with NME
Posted 16 August 2005 - 03:34 AM
THE DOORS avalanche begins here! Word Up corners the band's drummer and chronicler JOHN DENSMORE, reviews his book and checks out an investigation into Morrison's death.
WHEN IS a Door not a Door? When he's a best-selling author, part-time actor and has only just exorcised the spirit of "erotic politician" Jim Morrison after 20 years.
Welcome to the wonderful and frightening world of John Densmore, drummer with one of the most mythologised bands of the '60s – and now the '90s.
His first book, Riders On The Storm, subtitled My Life With Jim Morrison And The Doors, is currently on the American best-seller lists.
But the purpose of this autobiography was less to achieve fame and fortune than to assuage his feelings of guilt over the death of the band's lead singer.
In London to promote the book's British launch, a jet-lagged Densmore sits in the lounge of his inexpensive Soho hotel. Although the room is well-heated, he keeps his raincoat on throughout the interview.
Like the fans who keep watch even now over Morrison's grave in Paris, Densmore was clearly hugely influenced by the self-styled Lizard King: "Up until two years ago, when I met my current wife, Jim Morrison was the most important person in my life."
But he is wary of mythologising Morrison. "Jim definitely caught the muse, but he wasn't God like Danny Sugerman tried to make out in No One Here Gets Out Alive. We’re all of us just human.
It’s like John Lennon tried to say: us public folk take shits, have relationship problems, divorces, all of that.
I felt that if I put my time with The Doors across as it really was it might help other people – and me – to all feel human.
"Jim used to say that a shaman loses a lot of his power when he becomes aware of his own mythic importance: maybe he should have listened to his own advice. In the early days we were fairly together, but as time went on he got farther out and we pulled back. He was taking Blake's quote ‘The Road of Excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom' literally. I would say 'Hell, Blake himself didn't even do that, Jim'."
Like a kid who sneaks books from his elder brother's bookshelf, Densmore has clearly studied Morrison's favourite authors in detail, quoting them freely. He also talks a lot about Oliver Stone's imminent Doors movie.
"It's typical Stone style: 'Did you get it? If you didn't I'm going to show it to you again now. And here it is one more time.'
Oliver understood a bit about the myth of Jim Morrison, but he didn't know Jim as a person, he wasn’t around any of us. I don't think he even understood the '60s.
"After I saw the film I told him I wished there had been all those naked girls jumping up on to the stage when we played, but I certainly never saw any.
There were naked girls at Woodstock though, so he just kinda threw it all together."
Despite initially being the project's most ardent supporter, John reveals that group founder (and rival for Jim's affections) Ray Manzarek now hates the movie.
"His latest trick is going around saying there's two Doors who like the movie – me and Robbie – and two Doors who don’t – him and Jim!
So it's like 'Oh, you're communicating with Jim now, is that it Ray?'"
Densmore's next project is a work of fiction set in the '60's, a decade he feels often gets a raw deal.
"OK, so maybe we weren't ready to ‘have the world and have it NOW’. I mean, we would have f–ed it up, probably. But the '60s wasn't just about getting stoned, we made some real political advances then."
Remaining true to the ideals of that decade, John regrets what he calls the "K-Tel-ing" involved in the latest commercialisation of The Doors myth.
"I was proud to be in the band, but it's over with now; it shouldn't be re-packaged. That's why I loved The Sex Pistols.
They were shitting on people they saw as dinosaurs, and we're the dinosaurs now."
Whether or not Riders On The Storm enjoys the same commercial success here as it already has in America, it has obviously lifted a great burden from the author's shoulders.
For John Densmore at least, the doors of perception are finally cleansed.
William Higham, NME, 1991
Posted 16 August 2005 - 01:41 PM
I know, it's devastating to imagine Jim couldn't survive the pressure like Bono does.
Even if I hate to admit it I must swallow this movie - it is honest in the sense that it gives the audience that constant insatisfaction about Morrison.
The movie fails to portrait Jim's feelings of frustration and failure that would explain his poetry and his behaviour. This is why people don't like the movie, they can't feel the sensitive caring persona behind the "junkie". Then nobody has been honest about Jim's death and until then all movies about Jim can never express the true soul about him; you understand?
If you take away a man's death you won't be able to tell the story about him and it will always fail to show who Jim really was: a soul with a big heart, an excellent communicator, a politician without family support, a man of morals and justice, a comedian. The movie just focus on Jim's addiction problems, its consequences and emotional self-abuse.
The day they set it all free maybe a better movie is done.
It was very weird to watch the movie, I believe everybody in that room that day left with the feeling of great frustration and insatisfaction. If that is the message then the movie is a success.
Posted 08 September 2006 - 05:18 AM
I read in a Stone biography that when possessions were found in Morrison's apartment there was a screenplay by oliver stone that jim was supposedly reading but I don't know what the movie was.
Posted 26 July 2010 - 12:07 AM
He is promoting WYS at the moment so Stones movie is complementing WYS.
I guess when the money dries up from the effect of the publicity surrounding the documentary he will find other opinions to express.
Posted 26 July 2010 - 04:04 PM
Posted 27 July 2010 - 01:10 AM
Interesting indeed that his attitude to the K-Telling of The Doors has changed this last 20 years.
# For those who don't know what that means K-Tel was the 'Now That's What I Call Music' of the 70s and compiled hits albums with about ten tracks a side which reduced sound quality to shit and even editing songs to cram them on the album. these albums were hated by rock fans in my day and most of my friends would not use one of those LPs as an ashtray.
Surely the shoe was K-Telling The Doors bigstyle, reducing the band to an image on a rather crappy shoe.
The fact the image was that of the dead bloke even more K-Telling as his attitude would probably be to burn them on stage. John seems to have a rather blasé attitude to K-Telling The Doors.
He shows he gets it as with his superb poetry reading bash of December 8th 2008 for Jim's 65th birthday but on the same day shows he doesn't with his absolutely shameful and insulting radio interview which was nothing but a glorified advert for what is arguably the most controversial and discredited Doors release ever in the Matrix BMR release of that year.