The Doors (album)

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The Doors
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 4, 1967 (1967-01-04)
RecordedAugust 29 – September 23, 1966
StudioSunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California
ProducerPaul A. Rothchild
The Doors chronology
The Doors
Strange Days
Singles from The Doors
  1. "Break On Through (To the Other Side)"
    Released: January 1967
  2. "Light My Fire"
    Released: April 1967

The Doors is the debut album by the American rock band the Doors. Recorded in 1966 at Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California, it was produced by Paul A. Rothchild and released on January 4, 1967. The album features their breakthrough single "Light My Fire" and the lengthy song "The End" with its Oedipal spoken word section.

The Doors has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame; "Light My Fire" was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[1] It has been reissued several times on CD, including a 1999 remaster in “96/24 bit advanced resolution”, a 2007 remixed ”40th Anniversary new mix” and a 2017 new remaster in stereo and mono - "50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition." In 2015 the Library of Congress selected The Doors for inclusion in the National Recording Registry based on its cultural, artistic or historical significance.[2]


The Doors' final lineup was formed in mid-1965 after Ray Manzarek's two brothers Rick and Jim Manczarek left and Robby Krieger joined.[3] Krieger had only been playing the electric guitar for six months when he was invited to become a member of the band. The group also featured jazz- influenced drummer John Densmore and Jim Morrison on vocals. The band was initially signed to Columbia Records under a six-month contract, but they asked for an early release after the record company failed to secure a producer for the album and placed them on a drop list.[4]

After being released from the label, the Doors played residencies in mid-1966 at two historic Sunset Strip club venues, the London Fog and Whisky a Go Go. They were spotted by Elektra Records president Jac Holzman, who was present at the suggestion of Love singer Arthur Lee.[5] In the summer of 1966 Holzman signed them to Elektra Records on the recommendation of producer Paul Rothchild.[6]


The album was recorded by producer Paul A. Rothchild and audio engineer Bruce Botnick at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, California in less than one month in August and September 1966. A four-track tape machine was used for recording, using mostly three tracks: bass and drums on one, guitar and organ on another, and Morrison's vocals on the third. The fourth track was used for overdubbing.[7] Session musician Larry Knechtel played bass on "Light My Fire" in order to give some "punch" to the sound of Manzarek's keyboard bass.[8][9][10][11] For "The End", two takes were edited together to achieve the final recording.[8]


The Doors features many of the group's most famous compositions, including "Light My Fire", "Break On Through (To the Other Side)", and "The End". In 1969, Morrison stated:

Every time I hear ["The End"], it means something else to me. It started out as a simple good-bye song ... Probably just to a girl, but I see how it could be a goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don't know. I think it's sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be.[12]

Interviewed by Lizze James, he pointed out the meaning of the verse "My only friend, the end":

Sometimes the pain is too much to examine, or even tolerate ... That doesn't make it evil, though – or necessarily dangerous. But people fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over. Yeah – I guess it is a friend.[13]

"Break On Through (To the Other Side)" was released as the group's first single but it was relatively unsuccessful, peaking at No. 104 in Cash Box and No. 126 in Billboard. Elektra Records edited the line "she gets high", knowing a drug reference would discourage airplay (most remasters from 1999 onward have the original portions of both "Break On Through" and "The End" restored). The song is in 4/4 time and quite fast-paced, starting with Densmore's bossa nova drum groove in which a clave pattern is played as a rim click underneath a driving ride cymbal pattern. Densmore appreciated the new bossa nova craze coming from Brazil, so he decided to use it in the song.[14] Robby Krieger has stated that he took the idea for the guitar riff from Paul Butterfield's version of the song "Shake Your Moneymaker" (originally by blues guitarist Elmore James).[14] Later, a disjointed quirky organ solo is played quite similar to the introduction of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say".[15]

The group in 1966 (l-r): Morrison, Densmore, Krieger and (seated) Manzarek

The Doors breakout hit "Light My Fire" was composed by Krieger. Although the album version was just over seven minutes long, it was widely requested for radio play,[16] so a single version was edited to under three minutes with nearly all the instrumental break removed for airplay on AM radio.[17]

The Doors also contains two cover songs: "Alabama Song" and "Back Door Man". "Alabama Song" was written and composed by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in 1927, for their opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny).[18] The melody is changed and the verse beginning "Show me the way to the next little dollar" is omitted. On the album version, Morrison altered the second verse from "Show us the way to the next pretty boy" to "Show me the way to the next little girl", but on the 1967 Live at the Matrix recording, he sings the original "next pretty boy".[19] The Chicago blues "Back Door Man" was written by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by Howlin' Wolf.


The Doors was released on January 4, 1967, by Elektra Records.[20] It made a steady climb up the Billboard 200, ultimately becoming a huge success in the US once "Light My Fire" scaled the charts, with the album peaking at No. 2 on the chart in September 1967 (stuck behind the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) and going on to achieve multi-platinum status. In Europe the band would have to wait slightly longer for similar recognition, with "Light My Fire" originally stalling at No. 49 in the UK singles chart and the album failing to chart at all; however, in 1991, buoyed by the high-profile Oliver Stone film The Doors, a reissue of "Light My Fire" reached No. 7 in the singles chart, and the album reached No. 43.[21]

The mono LP (Elektra EKL-4007) has unique mixes that sound different from the stereo version (EKS-74007).[citation needed] The mono LP was deleted not long after its original release and remained unavailable until 2010, when it was reissued as a limited edition 180 gram audiophile LP by Rhino Records. The 40th anniversary mix of the debut album presents a stereo version of "Light My Fire" in speed-corrected form for the first time. Previously, only the original 45 RPM singles ("Light My Fire" and "Break On Through") were produced at the correct speed.[22]

The Doors has been released in 2006 in multichannel DVD-Audio,[23] and on September 14, 2011, on hybrid stereo-multichannel Super Audio CD by Warner Japan in their Warner Premium Sound series.[24] The album was once again remastered and reissued on March 31, 2017, to celebrate the album's 50th anniversary. This 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition contains the original stereo mix (including "Light My Fire" in its original incorrect speed) and the original mono mix, both available for the first time in remastered form.[citation needed]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[25]
Down Beat4.5/5 stars[26]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[27]
The Great Rock Discography9/10[28]
MusicHound Rock4/5[29]
Q4/5 stars[26]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[30]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[31]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[32]
The Village VoiceB–[33]

In a contemporary review for Crawdaddy! magazine, Paul Williams hailed The Doors as "an album of magnitude" while likening the band to Brian Wilson and the Rolling Stones as creators of "modern music", with which "contemporary 'jazz' and 'classical' composers must try to measure up". Williams added: "The birth of the group is in this album, and it's as good as anything in rock. The awesome fact about the Doors is that they will improve."[34]

Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in his column for Esquire, recommending the album but with reservations; he approved of Manzarek's organ playing and Morrison's "flexible though sometimes faint" singing while highlighting the presence of a "great hard rock original" in "Break on Through" and clever songs such as "Twentieth Century Fox", but was critical of more "esoteric" material such as the "long, obscure dirge" "The End".[35] He also found Morrison's lyrics often self-indulgent, particularly lines like "our love becomes a funeral pyre", which he said spoiled "Light My Fire", and "the nebulousness that passes for depth among so many lovers of rock poetry" on "The End".[36]

The Doors has since been frequently ranked by critics as one of the greatest albums of all time; according to Acclaimed Music, it is the 27th most ranked record on all-time lists.[37] In 2003, Parke Puterbaugh of Rolling Stone called the record "the L.A. foursome's most successful marriage of rock poetics with classically tempered hard rock – a stoned, immaculate classic."[30] Sean Egan of BBC Music opines, "The eponymous debut of The Doors took popular music into areas previously thought impossible: the incitement to expand one's consciousness of opener 'Break on Through' was just the beginning of its incendiary agenda."[38]

In 2000, the album was voted number 46 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[39] The Doors is ranked No. 42 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[40] When the list was revised in 2020, the album was included at No. 86.[41] Q magazine ranked the album at No. 75 on its list of the "100 Greatest Albums Ever" and No. 226 in NME magazine's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time"[42] In 2007, Rolling Stone included it on their list of The 40 Essential Albums of 1967.[43]

Track listing[edit]

Original album[edit]

All tracks are written by the Doors (Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore), except where noted. Details are taken from the 1967 U.S. Elektra release; other releases may show different information.[44]

Side one
1."Break On Through (To the Other Side)"2:25
2."Soul Kitchen"3:30
3."The Crystal Ship"2:30
4."Twentieth Century Fox"2:30
5."Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)" (Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill)3:15
6."Light My Fire"6:50
Side two
1."Back Door Man" (Willie Dixon, Chester Burnett a.k.a. Howlin' Wolf)3:30
2."I Looked at You"2:18
3."End of the Night"2:49
4."Take It as It Comes"2:13
5."The End"11:35


40th Anniversary Edition Bonus Tracks
12."Moonlight Drive" (August '66 version 1)2:43
13."Moonlight Drive" (August '66 version 2)2:31
14."Indian Summer" (8/19/66 vocal)2:37
50th Anniversary Edition Second CD/Fourth LP: Original Mono Album Mix
1."Break On Through (To the Other Side)"2:29
2."Soul Kitchen"3:35
3."The Crystal Ship"2:34
4."Twentieth Century Fox"2:33
5."Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)"3:21
6."Light My Fire"7:01
7."Back Door Man"3:35
8."I Looked at You"2:24
9."End of the Night"2:54
10."Take It as It Comes"2:18
11."The End"11:46
50th Anniversary Edition Third CD: Live at the Matrix 3/7/67
1."Break On Through (To the Other Side)"3:35
2."Soul Kitchen"4:05
3."The Crystal Ship"3:07
4."Twentieth Century Fox"2:54
5."Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)"4:03
6."Light My Fire"8:52
7."Back Door Man"5:44
8."The End"14:14


The Doors[44]

Additional musicians




Chart (1967) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[47] 15
US Billboard 200[48] 2


Year Single
(A-side / B-side)
Chart Position
1967 "Break On Through (To the Other Side)" /
"End of the Night"
Billboard Hot 100 126[nb 2]
1967 "Light My Fire" /
"The Crystal Ship"
Hot 100 1[50]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[51] Gold 30,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[52] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[53] 4× Platinum 400,000^
France (SNEP)[54] 3× Platinum 900,000*
Germany (BVMI)[55] Platinum 500,000^
Italy (FIMI)[56] Gold 50,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[57] Gold 50,000^
Sweden (GLF)[58] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[59] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[60] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[61] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ According to Doors' engineer Bruce Botnick, the song's bass guitar was played by session musician Larry Knechtel,[46] though in an interview guitarist Robby Krieger said that he played the bass guitar.[45]
  2. ^ Although some sources incorrectly state this record peaked at 106, the actual chart published in Billboard verifies the position was 126.[49]


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  2. ^ New Entries to National Recording Registry | News Releases - Library of Congress Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 37.
  4. ^ Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 53.
  5. ^ Cherry 2013, p. 13.
  6. ^ Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 58.
  7. ^ Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 68.
  8. ^ a b Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 71.
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  10. ^ Sullivan, Steve (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. 2. Scarecrow Press. pp. 484–5. ISBN 978-0-8108-8296-6. Archived from the original on December 21, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  11. ^ Hartman, Kent (2012). The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret. Macmillan. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-312-61974-9. Archived from the original on December 21, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  12. ^ Hopkins, Jerry (2007). Wenner, Jann; Levy, Joe (eds.). The Rolling Stone Interviews (Jim Morrison). New York City: Back Bay Books. p. 496. ISBN 978-0-31600-526-5. Archived from the original on February 22, 2017.
  13. ^ James, Lizze (1981). "Jim Morrison: Ten Years Gone". Creem Magazine. Detroit. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
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  15. ^ Classic Albums The Doors Archived January 12, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
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  28. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). "The Doors". The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Canongate U.S. ISBN 1841956155.
  29. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel, eds. (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 358. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.
  30. ^ a b Puterbaugh, Parke (April 8, 2003). "The Doors by the Doors". Rolling Stone. New York City. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2016.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  31. ^ "The Doors: Album Guide". Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  32. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (April 18, 2007). "The Doors: The Doors | Album Review". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
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  38. ^ BBC Music review Archived March 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
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  44. ^ a b c The Doors (Album notes). The Doors. New York City: Elektra Records. 1967. Back cover. ELK-4007.CS1 maint: others (link)
  45. ^ a b "Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman Q&A and Performance". YouTube. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
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  53. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – The Doors". Music Canada.
  54. ^ "French album certifications – Doors – The Doors" (in French). InfoDisc. Select DOORS and click OK. 
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  56. ^ "Italian album certifications – Doors – The Doors" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Select "2015" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "The Doors" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Album e Compilation" under "Sezione".
  57. ^ Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1991–1995. Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano. 2005. ISBN 8480486392.
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  61. ^ "American album certifications – The Doors – The Doors". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 


External links[edit]