Riders on the Storm

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"Riders on the Storm"
Single by The Doors
from the album L.A. Woman
B-side "The Changeling"
Released June 1971 (1971-06)
Format 7"
Recorded December 1970
Genre Psychedelic rock
  • 7:09 (album version)
  • 4:35 (single version)
Label Elektra
The Doors singles chronology
"Love Her Madly"
"Riders on the Storm"
"Tightrope Ride"
"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, L.A. Woman (1971), in June 1971. It reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.,[1] number 22 on the UK Singles Chart,[2] and number 7 in the Netherlands.[3]

Background and composition[edit]

"Riders on the Storm" is a psychedelic rock song[4] that according to band member Robby Krieger was inspired by the song "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend". Also, Jim Morrison mentions spree killer Billy Cook, in passing, during at least one interview. Cook killed six people, including a young family, while hitchhiking to California. In all likelihood, the Cook murders were inspiration for the song's lyric, "There's a killer on the road / His brain is squirming like a toad ... if you give this man a ride/sweet family will die ;..."

"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.[5]

The song was recorded at the Doors Workshop in December 1970 with the assistance of Bruce Botnick, their longtime engineer, who was co-producing the recording sessions. Jim Morrison recorded his main vocals and then whispered the lyrics over them to create the echo effect. This was the last song recorded by the members of the Doors, according to Manzarek, as well as Morrison's last recorded song to be released in his lifetime. The single was released in 1971, shortly before Morrison's death, entering the Billboard Hot 100 on July 3, 1971, the day that Morrison died.

Many incorrectly believe that this is the song longtime Doors producer Paul A. Rothchild disparaged as "cocktail music", precipitating his departure from the project. Rothchild actually applied this moniker to "Love Her Madly". Engineer Bruce Botnick was selected to produce the album instead.

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 lesson for him, where were discussed philosophers who had a critical look at the philosophical tradition, including Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger.[6]

In 2009, Simon Critchley dedicated his column on The Guardian to Heidegger's thrownness and explained it using the aforementioned verse of the song.[7]

The connection between the thrownness into the world and a dog's life was anticipated by the anti-Heideggerian author Ernst Bloch[8] in his main work The Principle of Hope (1954–9).[9]


The band's drummer John Densmore wrote a 1990 book called Riders on the Storm,[10] detailing the story of his life and his time 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.[11][12]

The song, according to an interview with Ray Manzarek, was only performed live twice: on the L.A. Woman tour at the Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 12, 1970, and in Dallas the night before that. Ray said playing those songs was "magic". This was The Doors' last public performance with Jim Morrison. It was only the second date of the tour, but was 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 would always play this song on Monday nights if it was raining in the city while she worked at New York City's WNEW-FM through most of the 1970s.


Chart (1971) Peak
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[3] 7
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[13] 7
Germany (Official German Charts)[14] 28
UK Singles Chart[2] 22
US Billboard Hot 100[1] 14
Canada RPM Magazine 5

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ a b Planer, Lindsay. "'Riders On The Storm' - The Doors: Allmusic review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved July 28, 2013. It peaked at a respectable No. 14 shortly after Morrison died in July 1971. 
  2. ^ a b "'Riders On The Storm' | full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 7, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl – The Doors – Riders on the Storm" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  4. ^ "Forty years on, Jim Morrison cult thrives at Paris cemetery". The Independent. July 1, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2017. ... The Doors, who broke fresh ground in psychedelic rock with such hits as 'Riders on the Storm,' ... 
  5. ^ "Riders On The Storm (Which Specific Rhodes Was Used)???". The Electronic Piano Forum. April 25, 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2013. 
  6. ^ Gerstenmeyer, Heinz (2001). The Doors - Sounds for Your Soul - Die Musik Der Doors (in German). p. 196. ISBN 978-0-521-89615-3. ISBN 3-83112057-9. 
  7. ^ 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). 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 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."
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Staff, IGN (October 22, 2010). "The Doors Most Loved Songs Kick Off Rock Band 3 DLC". IGN. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  12. ^ Snider, Mike (June 10, 2010). "Rock Band 3: What's New, What's Notable". USA Today. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – The Doors search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  14. ^ "Musicline.de – The Doors Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  15. ^ Official Top 100, 11-17 September 1983
  16. ^ "California Grooves 1991:Album". Answers.com. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Consequence of Sound Presents…Best Fest Covers - Cover Me". Covermesongs.com. 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  18. ^ "Rock Classics". Webcache.googleusercontent.com. 

External links[edit]