Riders on the Storm

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"Riders on the Storm"
Single by The Doors
from the album L.A. Woman
ReleasedJune 1971 (1971-06)
Format7-inch single
RecordedDecember 1970
GenrePsychedelic rock[1]
  • 7:09 (album version)
  • 4:35 (single version)
The Doors singles chronology
""Love Her Madly""
"Riders on the Storm"
""Tightrope Ride""

"Riders on the Storm" is a song by American psychedelic rock band the Doors. It was released as the second single from their sixth studio album and last with singer Jim Morrison, L.A. Woman, in June 1971. It reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.,[2][3][4] #22 on the UK Singles Chart[5] and #7 in the Netherlands.[6]

Background and composition[edit]

"Riders on the Storm" is a psychedelic rock song.[1] According to guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, it was inspired by the country song "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend," written by Stan Jones and popularized by Vaughn Monroe.[7] Portions of the song's lyrics were allegedly inspired by spree killer Billy Cook[8], whom Morrison referenced in a 1970 interview with The Village Voice, citing Cook as an inspiration for his short film HWY: An American Pastoral.[9] Cook had killed six people, including a young family, while hitchhiking to California.

The song's title echoes the American poet Hart Crane's poem "Praise for an Urn," which includes the line, "Delicate riders of the storm." Crane died in 1932 and Morrison was known to be a fan of his poetry.[citation needed]

"Riders on the Storm" is played in the E Dorian mode, and incorporates recordings of rain and thunder, along with Ray Manzarek's Fender Rhodes electric piano playing, which emulates the sound of rain.[10]

It is popularly believed that "Riders on the Storm" is the song that longtime Doors producer Paul A. Rothchild disparaged as "cocktail music", precipitating his departure from the L.A. Woman sessions, as corroborated by guitarist Robby Krieger.[11][12] Rothchild himself denied this claim, stating that he actually applied this moniker to "Love Her Madly".[13][14] Following Rothchild's departure, longtime engineer Bruce Botnick was selected to take over production duties, alongside the Doors themselves.

"Riders on the Storm" was recorded at the Doors Workshop in December 1970 with the assistance of Botnick. Morrison recorded his main vocals and then whispered the lyrics over them to create an echo effect. This was the last song recorded by all four members of the Doors, as well as Morrison's last recorded song to be released in his lifetime.[15] The single was released in June of 1971, entering the Billboard Hot 100 the week ending July 3, 1971, the same week that Morrison died.[2][3][4]

Heidegger's influence[edit]

Speaking with Krieger and Manzarek, the philosopher Thomas Vollmer argues that the line "Into this world we're thrown" recalls Heidegger's concept of thrownness (human existence as a basic state). In 1963 at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Jim Morrison heard an influential lecture for him, in which were discussed the philosophers who critically dealt with the philosophical tradition, including Friedrich Nietzsche and also Martin Heidegger.[16]

In 2009, Simon Critchley dedicated his column in The Guardian to Heidegger's thrownness and explained it using the aforementioned verse of the song.[17]

The connection between the thrownness into the world and a dog's life was anticipated by the anti-Heideggerian author Ernst Bloch[18] in his main work The Principle of Hope (1954–9).[19]


The song was only performed live on two occasions, during the short-lived L.A. Woman Tour: once at the Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, Texas, on December 11, 1970 (at both the early and late shows)[20][21], and again the following night at the Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana.[22] These were The Doors' last public performances with Jim Morrison, and Manzarek stated that the performances of the song were "magic".[citation needed] The New Orleans performance was only the second date of the tour, but also the last, as the tour was cancelled after this concert.


According to the book FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio by Richard Neer, legendary overnight disc jockey Alison Steele, during her tenure at New York City's WNEW-FM throughout most of the 1970s, would always play this song on Monday nights if it was raining in the city.

The Doors' drummer, John Densmore, released a book in 1990 entitled Riders on the Storm,[23] detailing the story of his life and his times with the group.

Ray Manzarek and guitarist Roy Rogers covered this song as an instrumental duet on their 2008 album Ballads Before the Rain.

In November 2009, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame under the category Rock (track).

The song was among the first songs released for Rock Band 3 as downloadable content.[24][25]



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Silver 200,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Annabel Lamb version[edit]

"Riders on the Storm"
Single by Annabel Lamb
from the album Once Bitten
ReleasedAugust 25, 1983
Format7" single, 12" single
GenreNew wave
Producer(s)David Anderle, Wally Brill
Annabel Lamb singles chronology
"Riders on the Storm"
"The Flame"

In 1983, Annabel Lamb covered the song that appeared on the album Once Bitten.[5] The success was quite modest, although the cover for the 1980s was musically adapted.

Track listings[edit]

7" Single

  1. Riders On The Storm - 3:58
  2. No Cure - 4:50

12" Maxi

  1. Riders On The Storm - 6:00
  2. Riders On The Storm (Dub Version) - 5:36
  3. No Cure - 4:50

12" Maxi

  1. Riders On The Storm (Specially Remixed Dance Version) - 5:36
  2. Riders On The Storm (Dub Version) - 6:00


Chart (1983) Peak
UK Singles Chart 27[32]
Swedish Singles Chart 18[33]

Other Cover versions[edit]


  • Cameo covered the song in 1990 as an homage to Jim Morrison's influence on the band.
  • New age/electronica music group Dancing Fantasy released a cover on their 1991 album California Grooves.[34]




  1. ^ a b "Forty years on, Jim Morrison cult thrives at Paris cemetery". The Independent. July 1, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2017. ... The Doors, who broke fresh ground in psychedelic rock with such hits as 'Riders on the Storm,'...
  2. ^ a b c "The Doors Riders On The Storm Chart History | Hot 100". Billboard. Eldridge Industries. September 4, 1971. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "L.A. Woman - The Doors | Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Archived from the original on March 29, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Planer, Lindsay. "'Riders On The Storm' - The Doors: AllMusic review". Allmusic. All Media Network. Retrieved July 28, 2013. It peaked at a respectable No. 14 shortly after Morrison died in July 1971.
  5. ^ a b c d e "'Riders On The Storm' | full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl – The Doors – Riders on the Storm" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  7. ^ https://www.uncut.co.uk/features/the-making-of-the-doors-riders-on-the-storm-4035
  8. ^ https://missourigravestones.org/view.php?id=747086
  9. ^ https://archives.waiting-forthe-sun.net/Pages/Interviews/JimInterviews/village_voice.html
  10. ^ "Riders On The Storm (Which Specific Rhodes Was Used)???". The Electronic Piano Forum. April 25, 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  11. ^ https://www.uncut.co.uk/features/the-making-of-the-doors-riders-on-the-storm-4035
  12. ^ https://ultimateclassicrock.com/doors-la-woman
  13. ^ Riordan, James; Prochnicky, Jerry (2006). "Break On Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison". First Harper. pp. 420–423. ISBN 978-0-688-11915-7. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  14. ^ https://archives.waiting-forthe-sun.net/Pages/Interviews/OtherInterviews/rothchild_bam.html
  15. ^ https://www.uncut.co.uk/features/the-making-of-the-doors-riders-on-the-storm-4035
  16. ^ (in German) Gerstenmeyer, Heinz (2001). The Doors - Sounds for Your Soul - Die Musik Der Doors. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-521-89615-3. ISBN 3-83112057-9.
  17. ^ Critchley, Simon (June 29, 2009). "Being and Time, part 4: Thrown into this world". The Guardian. Manchester. Retrieved May 27, 2013. As Jim Morrison intoned many decades ago, 'Into this world we're thrown'. Thrownness (Geworfenheit).
  18. ^ Korstvedt, Benjamin M. (2010). Listening for Utopia in Ernst Bloch's Musical Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-521-89615-3. ISBN 0-52189615-0.
  19. ^ Bloch, Ernst (1954). The Principle of Hope. 1. p. 3. [Hope] will not tolerate a dog's life which feels itself only passively thrown into What Is, which is not seen through, even wretchedly recognized. In German: "Sie erträgt kein Hundeleben, das sich ins Seiende nur passiv geworfen fühlt, in undurchschautes, gar jämmerlich anerkanntes."
  20. ^ https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-doors/1970/fair-park-coliseum-dallas-tx-5bd0230c.html
  21. ^ https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-doors/1970/fair-park-coliseum-dallas-tx-3f105ff.html
  22. ^ https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-doors/1970/the-warehouse-new-orleans-la-33d14c81.html
  23. ^ Densmore, John (1990). Riders on the storm: my life with Jim Morrison and the Doors (1st ed.). New York City: Delacorte Press. ISBN 978-0-385-30033-9. ISBN 0-38530033-6.
  24. ^ Staff, IGN (October 22, 2010). "The Doors Most Loved Songs Kick Off Rock Band 3 DLC". IGN. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  25. ^ Snider, Mike (June 10, 2010). "Rock Band 3: What's New, What's Notable". USA Today. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  26. ^ "Musicline.de – The Doors Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  27. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – The Doors" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  28. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 75.
  29. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles". Cashbox Magazine, Inc. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
  30. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Riders on the Storm". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  31. ^ "British single certifications – Doors – Riders on the Storm". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 1, 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Riders on the Storm in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  32. ^ Official Top 100, 11-17 September 1983.
  33. ^ swedishcharts.com
  34. ^ "California Grooves 1991:Album". Answers.com. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
  35. ^ "Consequence of Sound Presents…Best Fest Covers - Cover Me". Covermesongs.com. 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  36. ^ ""Big Music (Deluxe Edition)" von Simple Minds auf Apple Music".
  37. ^ "Rock Classics". Webcache.googleusercontent.com.
  38. ^ Kama Ruby; Albums and Theatre Projects – Kama Ruby- Singer, Actor, Wellness Practitioner. Retrieved April 18, 2018.

External links[edit]