Roadhouse Blues

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"Roadhouse Blues"
Roadhouse Blues.jpg
Single by The Doors
from the album Morrison Hotel
A-side"You Make Me Real"
ReleasedFebruary 1970 (1970-02)
Format45 rpm record
RecordedNovember 4–5, 1969
GenreBlues rock[1]
  • 4:04 (album version)
  • 3:49 (single version)
Composer(s)The Doors
Lyricist(s)Jim Morrison
Producer(s)Paul A. Rothchild
The Doors singles chronology
"Runnin' Blue"
"Roadhouse Blues"
"Love Her Madly"
Audio sample

"Roadhouse Blues" is a song by the American rock band the Doors. Written by Jim Morrison, it appeared as the B-side of "You Make Me Real",[2] and was first released as a single from the album Morrison Hotel in March 1970; it peaked at #50 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.[3] The song quickly became a concert staple for the group and it has been covered by numerous artists.


It took two days to record the song (November 4–5, 1969) with producer Paul A. Rothchild striving for perfection. Several takes from these sessions were included on the 2006 remastered album. Rothchild does not comment on Morrison, who is apparently intoxicated, "going into full blues singer mode"[4] (in the words of engineer Bruce Botnick), improvising and simultaneously flubbing several lyrics and repeating the blues phrase "Money beats soul every time".[5] The phrase can be found on the When You're Strange: Music from the Motion Picture soundtrack, with the next track being a live version of "Roadhouse Blues".

The sessions took off only on the second day, when resident Elektra guitarist Lonnie Mack joined in on bass and ex-Lovin' Spoonful frontman John Sebastian contributing harmonica (appearing under the pseudonym G. Puglese, either out of loyalty to his recording contract[6] or to avoid affiliation with The Doors after the infamous Miami controversy) sat in; also, Manzarek switched from his Wurlitzer electric piano to a tack piano (the same used on The Beach Boys "Good Vibrations").[7] A studio version of the song with John Lee Hooker sharing vocals with Morrison can be found on the Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors album.[8]

There exists a misconception that Mack contributed both the guitar solo and the bass guitar on the track. Mack himself stated that he had "played bass".[9] In actuality, Mack's contribution is indeed limited to bass guitar and guitarist Robby Krieger is responsible for all other guitar parts on "Roadhouse Blues". Jim Morrison shouts "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 versions played in the previous day's session. Subsequent interviews with members of The Doors and Rothchild confirm this.

The complete song was fully composed and rehearsed before Lonnie Mack was invited to play bass on "Roadhouse Blues" and "Maggie M'Gill" (Ray Neapolitan, regular bass player during Morrison Hotel sessions, couldn't arrive on time that day due to a traffic jam).[10] Mack had quit touring and was working for Elektra Records at the time, but returned to music after playing bass at the session.[11]

Alice Cooper claimed he was the inspiration for the line "Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer", as stated on his Planet Rock morning show.[12]

A live version appeared on the posthumous album An American Prayer and that same version can be heard again on In Concert and Greatest Hits. During this rendering, Jim Morrison talks for a short while to a female audience member about his Zodiac sign and, with a sudden, ironic twist that causes the audience to erupt in laughter, denounces his belief in it. The song was also featured twice in the movie The Doors; the studio version in the film, and the aforementioned live version over the end credits.


Status Quo version[edit]

"Roadhouse Blues"
Roadhouse Blues (Quo).jpg
Promotional single by Status Quo
from the album Piledriver
GenreHard rock
Composer(s)The Doors
Lyricist(s)Jim Morrison

Status Quo, while touring in Bielefeld, Germany in 1970,[13] heard the Doors' recording shortly after it was released. They were looking for a change of direction, away from their original psychedelic pop style, and were unsure about what to do; after hearing the song in a club, they enjoyed its 12-bar shuffle and thought it would be a good template for future original material.[14] The group recorded a studio version on the 1972 album Piledriver, with bassist Alan Lancaster taking the lead vocal and featuring an extra verse with three-part harmonies, which the Doors' recording did not have.[13] The lyrics differed from the original; for instance, "I should have made you" instead of "Ashen lady".[15] The track was released as a promotional single, with Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave" on the B-side.[13]

The song was a regular feature of Quo's live setlist throughout the 1970s, its performance coming towards the end of the show. It was extended to allow a jam session in the middle, featuring snippets of other songs, including the traditional "The Irish Washerwoman" and "Shakin' All Over".[16][17] A14-minute version appears as the final track on 1977's Live.[18] In 1992, the live album Live Alive Quo featured Roadhouse Medley, which blended other songs into the main Roadhouse Blues riff.[19]

"Roadhouse Blues" was revived for the "Frantic Four" tours in 2013.[20] In 2014, a deluxe reissue of Piledriver included a 15-minute live version, recorded in 1973.[21]


Other versions[edit]

Other artists who have recorded cover versions include Deep Purple, Lana Del Rey, Bon Jovi, The Cult, Status Quo, Mahogany Rush, Ministry, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Los Lonely Boys. Live covers have been released by Meat Loaf, Imperiet, Eric Burdon, Eppu Normaali and Creed.

U.S. hard-rock band Blue Öyster Cult released a live version, recorded Dec. 15, 1981 at the Country Club in Reseda, CA, on Extraterrestrial Live, featuring Robby Krieger joining the band on guitar.[22]

The Jeff Healey Band performs the song in the movie Road House.

The song was played by the surviving Doors and Eddie Vedder at The Doors' Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1993. In addition, a bootleg recording of this song performed by Vedder and others surfaced in 2001.


The Crystal Method did a remix of "Roadhouse Blues". It can be found on their albums Community Service II and Drive: Nike + Original Run. It was featured also in the short-lived TV show Drive.[23] In 2010, it was used as the promotional song for the third season of FX's Sons of Anarchy.



  1. ^ Luhrssen, David; Larson, Michael (2017). Encyclopedia of Classic Rock. ABC-CLIO. p. 97. ISBN 9781440835148.
  2. ^ "The Doors". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  3. ^ "The Doors Chart History: Hot 100". 2019. Archived from the original on May 7, 2018. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  4. ^ The Doors, Morrison Hotel Remastered Liner Notes, Page 1, Bruce Botnick, 2006
  5. ^ Marcus 2012, p. 100.
  6. ^ The Doors, Morrison Hotel Remastered Liner Notes, Page 7, David Frickle, 2006
  7. ^ The Doors, Morrison Hotel Remastered Liner Notes, Page 3, Bruce Botnick, 2006.
  8. ^ "Stone Immaculate: The Music of the Doors". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  9. ^ "CRL Chapter 05". YouTube. 2009-11-01. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  10. ^ Densmore, John (1990). Riders On The Storm. Dell. p. 235.
  11. ^ Cianci, Bob (February 11, 2010). "Robbie Krieger - The Doors' Distinctive Fret Master". Premiere Guitar.
  12. ^ "Jim Morrison quoted Alice Cooper in 'Roadhouse Blues'". Uncut. 10 July 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  13. ^ a b c Stroud 2017, p. 78.
  14. ^ Rossi, Parfitt & Wall 2005, p. 88.
  15. ^ "Roadhouse Blues". Status Quo (official website). Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  16. ^ Stroud 2017, p. 113.
  17. ^ Scott D. Harrison; Graham F. Welch; Adam Adler, eds. (2012). Perspectives on Males and Singing. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 291. ISBN 978-9-400-72660-4.
  18. ^ "Live! - Status Quo". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Live Alive Quo". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Music review: Status Quo: The Frantic Four Ride Again, Manchester Apollo". The Independent. 7 March 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Piledriver [Deluxe Edition]". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  22. ^ Blue Öyster Cult - Extraterrestrial Live (Media notes). Columbia Records. KG 37946. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Crystal Method gives Nike a run for their $". Billboard. 1 July 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2018.


  • Marcus, Greil (2012). The Doors. Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-27996-8.
  • Rossi, Francis; Parfitt, Rick; Wall, Mick (2005). XS All Areas: The Status Quo Autobiography. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-330-41962-8.
  • Stroud, Graeme (2017). Status Quo: Song by Song. Fonthill Media.

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