Unhinged: Doors Drummer John Densmore Puts Bandmates On Trial To Preserve Jim Morrison’s Legacy

by (@JordanRuntagh)

The ridiculous amount of available money has always a complicating (some would say corrupting) factor in popular rock, and the line between artistic integrity and “a smart financial move” keeps opportunistically moving all the time. The free love/free society baby boomer generation has grown up, cut their hair, got a job and (for the most part), done quite well for themselves. Now that they’re staring down the barrel of retirement, many have some splurge-cash to spend on themselves. Suddenly baby boomers are an excellent demographic for those looking to make a buck. Nostalgia is a hot commodity, after all.

When there’s money to be made, but suits come flocking. How do artists “of a certain age” keep the sixties ideal of pure creativity unencumbered with corporate blah alive in an age where consumerism and mass media is at an all time high? Is it a naive notion even to try? Should they just take the money and run?

The youthful Doors of the 1960s made a pact never to sell out. The precedent was set in 1968, when Morrison was horrified to learn that his bandmates were considering a $75,000 offer from Buick to use “Light My Fire” in an ad to sell their new Opel line. When Jim began to talk about smashing a Buick on stage every night as part of his “new act”, the ad men quickly backed off.

It was not exactly a subtle point Jim was making, and for Densmore it still echoes loudly today. So when Cadillac offered the group $15 million (the largest ad deal in history at that time) to use their song “Break On Through (To The Other Side)”, the answer seemed obvious: No way. But Manzarek and Krieger both seemed on board for the idea. Because the band had been founded on the idealistic four-way split “All-For-One, One-For-All” principle, Densmore held out, and effectively vetoed the project.