Morrison Hotel

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For the former building in Chicago, see Morrison Hotel (Chicago).
Morrison Hotel
The Doors - Morrison Hotel.jpg
Studio album by the Doors
Released February 9, 1970 (1970-02-09)
Recorded November 1969 – January 1970
Studio Elektra Sound Recorders, Los Angeles, California
Genre Psychedelic rock, blues rock
Length 37:05
Label Elektra
Producer Paul A. Rothchild
the Doors chronology
The Soft Parade
Morrison Hotel
Absolutely Live
Singles from Morrison Hotel
  1. "You Make Me Real"
    Released: February 1970

Morrison Hotel (sometimes referred to as Hard Rock Café from the title of the first side of the LP, with the second side titled Morrison Hotel) is the fifth studio album by American rock band the Doors released by Elektra in February 1970.


1969 had not been a good year for the Doors. On March 1, 1969, Morrison allegedly performed while intoxicated and exposed himself in front of a crowd of nearly 12,000 in Miami, Florida, for which he was charged with indecent exposure on April 4. The incident negatively reflected on the band's publicity, sparking a "March for Decency" at the Orange Bowl. Consequently, 25 dates on the Doors next tour were cancelled, and their records were blacklisted from radio airplay, resulting in the band abandoning the rest of their potential tour and costing what Densmore described as "a million dollars in gigs.[1] In June, the Doors released their fourth album, The Soft Parade, a heavily orchestrated affair that augmented the band's sound with horns and strings. The album peaked at No. 6 but critics turned on the band for the first time, with Rolling Stone magazine calling the album "sad" and asserting "one of the most potentially moving forces in rock has allowed itself to degenerate."[this quote needs a citation] Morrison had become disillusioned with his rock star status; in the 2010 film When You're Strange, he can be heard reflecting contemptuously to Howard Smith of the Village Voice on his pinup status saying, "Posing for a picture? Can you imagine? Looking in the camera and really posing? It's insane! I must've been out of my mind!"[this quote needs a citation] Morrison traded in his stage leathers for more informal attire and grew a beard, trying to live down his "Lizard King" image, but his worsening alcoholism often undermined his efforts. In November, around the same time that the band started recording Morrison Hotel with producer Paul A. Rothchild a drunken Morrison caused such a disturbance on a flight to Phoenix, Arizona to see a Rolling Stones concert that he was charged with a new skyjacking law that carried up to a $10,000 fine and a ten-year prison sentence.[1]

Recording and composition[edit]

Morrison Hotel's back to basics approach largely stemmed from the group's dismay over the protracted sessions for The Soft Parade, which took nine months to record and cost $86,000, far more expensive than any previous Doors record.[1] The band had also been stung by the critical reception to the record. On this album, there is a slight steer toward blues, which would be fully explored by the band on their next album L.A. Woman. Morrison Hotel was recorded between November 1969 and January 1970 with the exception of "Indian Summer," one of the band's earliest compositions, which was recorded in August 1966 during sessions for The Doors (the additional reverb is evident on Morrison's vocal) and "Waiting for the Sun" which recorded in March 1968 during sessions for its namesake LP. Although Morrison Hotel contains no hit singles, it features some of the band's most popular songs, including "Roadhouse Blues" and "Peace Frog", which would go on to become staples of classic rock radio. "Roadhouse Blues" took two days to record (November 4–5, 1969) with Paul Rothchild striving for perfection. Several takes from these sessions were included on the 2006 remastered album, with Morrison repeating the phrase "Money beats soul" over and over again. The sessions only took off on the second day, when resident Elektra guitarist Lonnie Mack joined in on bass and harmonica player John Sebastian (appearing under the pseudonym G. Puglese either out of loyalty to his recording contract[2] or to avoid affiliation with The Doors after the infamous Miami controversy) joined in on the sessions. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek switched from his Wurlitzer electric piano to a tack piano (the same used on The Beach Boys "Good Vibrations").[3] One recent misconception about the recording is that Mack contributed the guitar solo on the track in addition to bass guitar. In actuality, guitarist Robby Krieger is responsible for all guitar parts on "Roadhouse Blues" and Mack's contribution is limited to bass guitar. This fact is further confirmed by Morrison's famous shout "Do it, Robby, do it!" (especially audible on the official audio proof of DVD-Audio and SuperAudioCD where the single vocal track can be separated from other instruments) at the start of the guitar solo. The solo on record is representative of Krieger's fingerstyle playing and is identical to all his "Roadhouse Blues" solos played in the previous sessions the day before on 5th November 1969. Subsequent interviews with members of The Doors and Paul A. Rothchild also confirm this. Of "Roadhouse Blues" Krieger stated to Alan Paul of Guitar World in 1994:

I was always proud of that song because as simple as it is, it's not just another blues. That one little lick makes it a song, and I think that sums up the genius of the Doors. I think that song really stands up well as an example of what made us a great band. And the session was really cool – one of my fondest memories of the band. We cut the tune live, with John Sebastian playing harp and Lonnie Mack playing bass – he came up with that fantastic bassline.[this quote needs a citation]

In the same interview, Krieger commented on the origins of "Peace Frog":

I had written the music, we had rehearsed it up, and it was really happening, but we didn't have any lyrics and Jim wasn't around. We just said, "Fuck it, let's record it. He'll come up with something." And he did. He took out his poetry book and found a poem that fit. But it always seemed kind of forced to me, to tell you the truth.[this quote needs a citation]

The hook of "Peace Frog" is a distorted G5 chord played three times by Krieger, followed by a brief percussive Wah-wah effect. Morrison, who took the words from a collection he titled Abortion Stories, begins nearly every line with the word "blood", often referring to "Blood in the streets...". A brief musical interlude is next, followed by a guitar solo, and a spoken word verse ("Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleeding..."). The song ends with a final chord as it segues into the next track, "Blue Sunday". The line "Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleeding/Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind" originates from "Dawn's Highway", a poem in which Morrison describes an event that occurred when he was a child. Morrison described the incident, using a rare mention of his parents, in An American Prayer:

Me and my mother and father and a grandmother and a grandfather were driving through the desert, at dawn, and a truck load of Indian workers had either hit another car, or just – I don't know what happened – but there were Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death...So the car pulls up and stops. That was the first time I tasted fear. I musta' been about four – like a child is like a flower, his head is floating in the breeze, man.[this quote needs a citation]

Morrison's mugshot taken in New Haven

The line "Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven" likely refers[according to whom?] to Morrison's December 9, 1967 arrest at the New Haven Arena during a concert. After an altercation with a police officer backstage, Morrison made the incident known to the concert audience, and was arrested for attempting to incite a riot.[4] A similar line about Chicago probably refers[according to whom?] to the conflict surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

"The Spy" and "Queen of the Highway" both celebrate Morrison's intense but troubled relationship with girlfriend Pamela Courson. Originally "The Spy" was called "Spy In The House Of Love", as shown on the Master Reel Control File, a line borrowed from A Spy in the House of Love, a novel by Anaïs Nin published in 1954. Both songs are tinged with ambivalence; on "The Spy" Morrison cautions, "I know your deepest, secret fears", while on "Queen of the Highway" he sardonically concludes, "I hope it can continue a little while longer." According to the 1980 Doors biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, it was during the Morrison Hotel sessions that Morrison and Courson had a violent argument after she drank his bottle of liquor so he could not drink it, with engineer Bruce Botnick recalling: "So here were the two of them, completely out of their minds and crying. He started shaking her violently. I think he was putting me on. She was crying out of control, telling him he shouldn't drink anymore and that's why she drank it. And I'm cleaning up and I said, "Hey man, it's pretty late." He looked up, stopped shaking her, said, "Yeah, right," hugged her and they walked out arm in arm...he'd always give you a funny look afterward, to see your reaction."[5]

Morrison and his father on the bridge of the USS Bon Homme Richard in January, 1964

Morrison and the band cut a radically different jazz version of "Queen of the Highway" that surfaced on the 1997 Doors Box Set. In the liner notes Manzarek comments, "Cool jazz. A trio with a nightclub singer. John playing very hip brushes on the snare. Harvey Brooks on bass. I'm on a Bill Evans homage acoustic piano." The jaunty "Land Ho!" also has autobiographical overtones for Morrison; his father, George Stephen Morrison, was a rear admiral and naval aviator in the United States Navy, and a photo of Morrison and his father aboard the Bonne Homme Richard in 1964 is widely available. In the Box Set liner notes Manzarek states, "Jim is both the little boy on his grandpa's knee and the grandfather himself. He can't stay locked on the land. He needs adventure and danger on the high seas." "Ship of Fools" is one of the earliest ecological rock songs, with Morrison singing, "People walking on the moon, smog will get you pretty soon."

The one single from the album was the rock and roll song "You Make Me Real," which bombed, peaking at #50.[citation needed] However, the blues-infused songs found on Morrison Hotel, such as "Roadhouse Blues" and "Maggie M'Gill" (I've been singing the blues ever since the world began"), points unerringly to the full blown blues-rock style of the band's final album with Morrison, L.A. Woman.[according to whom?]

Album cover[edit]

The cover photo was taken by Henry Diltz at the actual Morrison Hotel, located at 1246 South Hope Street in Los Angeles. Diltz told the desk clerk they were going to take a few photos, and the clerk said they couldn't without the owner's permission and the owner wasn't there. They took the pictures while the clerk was inside the elevator. The elevator numbers right under the 'son' in 'Morrison' are lit in the cover. The band jumped right behind the windows and hit their places without shuffling as Diltz took the shot.[6] The album is divided into two separately titled sides, Hard Rock Cafe and Morrison Hotel (named after Morrison's favorite bars, located on opposite sides of L.A.).The rear cover features a photograph of the Hard Rock Café on 300 East 5th Street, Los Angeles.[7] The founders of the later (and otherwise unrelated) Hard Rock Cafe chain used the name, having seen it on the Doors' album. The original cafe is no longer open for business.

Release and reception[edit]

Even though no major hit singles were drawn from the album, Morrison Hotel re-established the Doors as favorites of the critics, peaking at No. 4 on the US album chart.[citation needed] The album also became the band's highest charting studio album in the UK, where it peaked at No. 12. Morrison Hotel was, upon its release, seen by many as a comeback for the Doors following the critical failure of The Soft Parade and the Miami incident of 1969. Dave Marsh, the editor of Creem magazine, called the album "the most horrifying rock and roll I have ever heard. When they're good, they're simply unbeatable. I know this is the best record I've listened to [...] so far",[8] while Rock Magazine called it "without any doubt their ballsiest (and best) album to date".[8] Circus praised it as "possibly the best album yet from the Doors" and "good, hard, evil rock...and one of the best albums released this decade".[8] Slant calls it "an easier listen than The Soft Parade" but argues the LP has an "inconsistent tone" resulting from the pairing of old and new material.[citation needed]

For the 40th anniversary, the album was re-released in completely remixed and remastered form. This practice extended to incorporating vocal and instrumental components which were not part of the original album. According to Ray Manzarek, "There are background vocals by Jim Morrison, piano parts of mine that weren't used and guitar stingers and solos by Robby Krieger that never made the original recordings that can now be heard for the first time."[this quote needs a citation]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[9]
Robert Christgau B+[10]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[12]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[13]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[14]

Track listing[edit]

Side A: Hard Rock Café
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Roadhouse Blues"   Jim Morrison, music by The Doors 4:03
2. "Waiting for the Sun"   Morrison 3:58
3. "You Make Me Real"   Morrison 2:53
4. "Peace Frog"   Morrison, Krieger 2:51
5. "Blue Sunday"   Morrison 2:13
6. "Ship of Fools"   Morrison, Krieger 3:08
Side B: Morrison Hotel
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "Land Ho!"   Morrison, Krieger 4:10
8. "The Spy"   Morrison 4:17
9. "Queen of the Highway"   Morrison, Krieger 2:47
10. "Indian Summer"   Morrison, Krieger 2:36
11. "Maggie M'Gill"   Morrison, music by The Doors 4:23


The Doors
Additional musicians
Technical personnel

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 247.
  2. ^ The Doors, Morrison Hotel Remastered Liner Notes, Page 7, David Frickle, 2006
  3. ^ The Doors, Morrison Hotel Remastered Liner Notes, Page 3, Bruce Botnick, 2006.
  4. ^ "Jim Morrison". Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  5. ^ Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 274.
  6. ^ Densmore, John (1991). Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and The Doors. London: Bloomsbury, Arrow. pp. 234–237, 244. ISBN 0-09-993300-4. 
  7. ^ "The Doors Original "Hard Rock Cafe" in Downtown Los Angeles". FeelNumb. November 17, 2009. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 284.
  9. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Morrison Hotel – The Doors". AllMusic. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: Album: The Doors: Morrison Hotel". Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  11. ^ Bangs, Lester (April 30, 1970). "Morrison Hotel". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Doors: Album Guide". Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  13. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (April 18, 2007). "The Doors: Morrison Hotel". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  14. ^ "The Doors Morrison Hotel". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue {{{chartid}}}." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  16. ^ " – The Doors – Morrison Hotel" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  17. ^ "Doors | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  18. ^ a b "The Doors – Chart history" Billboard 200 for The Doors. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Austrian album certifications – The Doors – Morrison Hotel" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter The Doors in the field Interpret. Enter Morrison Hotel in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  20. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – Morrison Hotel". Music Canada. 
  21. ^ "French album certifications – Doors – Morrison Hotel" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select DOORS and click OK
  22. ^ "Polish album certifications – ATB – Distant Earth" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. 
  23. ^ "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1991–1995". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Año A Año. ISBN 8480486392. 
  24. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (The Doors; 'The Morrison Hotel')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. 
  25. ^ "British album certifications – Doors – Morrison Hotel". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Morrison Hotel in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  26. ^ "American album certifications – The Doors – Morrison Hotel". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]