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The Doors (album)

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The Doors
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 4, 1967 (1967-01-04)
RecordedAugust 1966
StudioSunset Sound, Hollywood
ProducerPaul A. Rothchild
The Doors chronology
The Doors
Strange Days
Singles from The Doors
  1. "Break On Through (To the Other Side)"
    Released: January 1, 1967
  2. "Light My Fire"
    Released: April 24, 1967

The Doors is the debut studio album by American rock band the Doors, released on January 4, 1967, by Elektra Records. It was recorded in August 1966 at Sunset Sound Recorders, in Hollywood, California, under the production of Paul A. Rothchild. The album features the extended version of the band's breakthrough single "Light My Fire" and the lengthy closer "The End" with its Oedipal spoken word section.[4] Various publications, including BBC and Rolling Stone, have ranked The Doors as one of the greatest debut albums of all time.[5][6]

The Doors worked on the material of their debut album throughout 1966 at various locations and stages, such as the Whisky a Go Go. The album's recording started after their dismissal from the venue, having just signed with Elektra Records. The recording of The Doors established the band's wide range of musical influences, such as jazz, classical, blues, pop, R&B and rock music.[7] It has been largely viewed as an essential part of the psychedelic rock evolution, while also being acknowledged as a source of inspiration to numerous other works.

The Doors and "Light My Fire" have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2015, the Library of Congress selected The Doors for inclusion in the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[8] The Doors has sold over 13 million copies worldwide as of 2015,[9] making it the band's best-selling album.[10] In 2003 and 2012, Rolling Stone ranked it number 42 on its list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time", repositioning it to number 86 in the 2020 edition.


The Whisky a Go Go, where the Doors were the house band from May to August 1966.[11]

The Doors' final lineup was formed in mid-1965 after keyboardist Ray Manzarek's two brothers Rick and Jim 'Manczarek' left Rick & the Ravens, whose members included besides Manzarek, jazz-influenced drummer John Densmore and then-novice vocalist Jim Morrison. The group's four man membership was established when guitarist Robby Krieger agreed to join.[12] Though he had previous experience playing folk and flamenco, Krieger had only been playing the electric guitar for a few months when he was invited to become a member of the band, soon renamed the Doors.[13] They were 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.[14]

Following their release 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.[15] They were spotted at the Whisky a Go Go by Elektra Records president Jac Holzman, who was present at the suggestion of Love singer Arthur Lee.[16] After he saw two sets, Holzman called producer Paul A. Rothchild to see the group.[17] On August 18, after attending several appearances of the band, Holzman and Rothchild ultimately signed them to Elektra Records.[18]

The Doors continued performing at the Whisky until on August 21, when they were fired due to their performance of "The End" on which Morrison improvised an uncensored retelling section of the mythical Greek king, Oedipus.[16] Morrison had missed the first of two sets that night, as he had stayed at the Tropicana Hotel, tripping on LSD.[11]


The Doors was recorded by producer Paul A. Rothchild and audio engineer Bruce Botnick at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, California, over about a week[19][20] in late August 1966.[21] "Indian Summer"[nb 1] and "Moonlight Drive" were the first rehearsal outtakes of the album,[6] while the first actual songs recorded that appeared being "I Looked at You" and "Take It as It Comes".[23] A four-track tape machine was used at the cost of approximately $10,000.[24] Three of the tracks were utilized as: bass and drums on one, guitar and organ on another, and Morrison's vocals on the third. The fourth track was used for overdubbing (mainly Morrison's harmony vocals and bass guitar).[17][25][26]

The album's instrumentation includes keyboards, electric guitar, occasional bass,[27] drums,[28] and marxophone (on "Alabama Song").[29] Rothchild had forbidden Krieger from using any of his guitar effects (particularly the wah wah pedal) on the record in order to avoid what Rothchild thought was the overuse of these devices.[17] However, the studio was equipped with an echo chamber which gave that specific effect to the sound.[30]

Ray Manzarek, explaining the bass-overdubs, said:

 ... on some of the songs we brought in an actual bass player, one of the Los Angeles cats, Larry Knechtel, who played the same bass line that I played on "Light My Fire." He doubled my bass line.[26]

According to Botnick, "What you hear on the first album is what they did live. It wasn't just playing the song–it transcended that."[31] However, session musician Larry Knechtel and Krieger overdubbed bass guitar on several tracks in order to give some "punch" to the sound of Manzarek's keyboard bass.[32][33][34][35][36][nb 2] Morrison explained in 1969, "We started almost immediately, and some of the songs took only a few takes. We'd do several takes just to make sure we couldn't do a better one."[37] For "The End" and "Light My Fire", two takes were edited together to achieve the final recording.[32][26] The album was mixed and completed in October 1966.[38] Although "Indian Summer" was recorded during the sessions and thought was given to including it as the final track, it was eventually replaced with "The End".[6][39]


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.[40]

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.[41]

"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 (many releases have the original portions of both "Break On Through" and "The End" edited).[42] 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.[43] 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).[43] Later, a disjointed quirky organ solo is played quite similar to the introduction of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say".[44]

Promotional photo of the Doors in late 1966. From left to right: Densmore, Krieger, Manzarek and Morrison.

The Doors' breakout hit "Light My Fire" was primarily composed by Krieger. Although the album version was just over seven minutes long, it was widely requested for radio play,[45] so a single version was edited to under three minutes with nearly all the instrumental break removed for airplay on AM radio.[46] While recalling its writing process, Krieger has claimed that it was Morrison who encouraged the others to write songs when they realized they did not have enough original material.[30] Adding more specifically that Morrison had suggested to him to write "about something universal."[47]

Additionally, Morrison wrote "Take It as It Comes", which is thought to be a "tribute to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi".[48] It came from one of his observations on Yogi's meditation classes, which Morrison wasn't initially studying contrary to the other group members, but was later convinced by them to attend.[49] Manzarek's organ solo on the song was inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach.[50] The lyrics to "Twentieth Century Fox" refer to either Manzarek's wife Dorothy Fujikawa[51] or Morrison's girlfriend Pamela Courson.[52]

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).[53] 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". Notable peculiarity of the band's version is the unusual use of the marxophone.[42] The Chicago blues "Back Door Man" was written by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by Howlin' Wolf.[54][55]


The Doors was released on January 4, 1967, by Elektra Records.[4] Jac Holzman had initially intended to release the record in November 1966, but after a negotiation with the band, he decided to postpone the release to the new year, as he felt that period was the appropriate time for album sales.[38] For the album's cover, Joel Brodsky was hired to provide a photo of the group, which later received a Grammy nomination.[56] Holzman also suggested an association with Billboard magazine for the album's advertisement by promoting the record with "hoarding", a novel concept which was made popular later on. It was promoted under the stationery "Break On Through With An Electrifying Album".[57] The Doors were the first rock band to use this advertising medium.[58]

The Doors made a steady climb up the Billboard 200, ultimately becoming a huge success in the US once the edited single version of "Light My Fire" scaled the charts to become No. 1, with the album peaking at No. 2 on the chart in September 1967 (kept off the top stop by the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) and going on to achieve multi-platinum status.[59] 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.[60]

The mono LP was withdrawn not long after its original release and remained unavailable until 2009, when it was reissued as a limited edition 180 gram audiophile LP by Rhino Records.[61] 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.[62]


The Doors was reissued several times since the 1980s. In 1981, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released a half speed mastered version of the album on vinyl, cut by Stan Ricker with the Ortofon Cutting System.[63] In 1988, it was digitally remastered by Bruce Botnick and Paul A. Rothchild at Digital Magnetics, using the original master tapes.[64] In 1992, DCC Compact Classics reissued the album on 24kt gold CD and 180g vinyl; the gold CD was remastered by Steve Hoffman while the vinyl was cut by Kevin Gray and Hoffman at Future Disc.[65][66] It was remastered again in 1999 for The Complete Studio Recordings box set by Bernie Grundman and Botnick at Bernie Grundman Mastering using 96khz/24bit technology; it was also released as a standalone CD release.[67] In 2006, the record was released in multichannel DVD-Audio as part of the Perception box set.[68] The next year, a 40th anniversary edition was released featuring the 2006 stereo remix and three bonus tracks, which was mastered by Botnick at Uniteye.[69] In 2009, the original mono mix was released on 180g vinyl, cut by Grundman.[70]

On September 14, 2011, The Doors was released on hybrid stereo-multichannel Super Audio CD by Warner Japan in their Warner Premium Sound series.[71] Analogue Productions reissued the album on hybrid SACD and double 45 RPM vinyl, both editions were mastered by Doug Sax and Sangwook Nam at The Mastering Lab; the CD layer of the Super Audio CD contains the original stereo mix while the SACD layer contains Botnick's 2006 5.1 surround mix.[72][73] In 2017, a deluxe edition was released in commemoration of the album's 50th anniversary, and includes the original stereo and mono mixes, as well as a compilation of songs recorded live at The Matrix in San Francisco on March 7, 1967. This edition was remastered by Botnick from "recently discovered original master tapes".[74]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Retrospective reviews
Review scores
American Songwriter[76]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[77]
The Great Rock Discography9/10[78]
Far Out[79]
MusicHound Rock[80]
Rolling Stone[81]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[82]
Slant Magazine[83]
The Village VoiceB−[84]

In a contemporary review for Crawdaddy! magazine, founder and critic Paul Williams hailed The Doors as "an album of magnitude" and described the band 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."[85] Record Mirror was similarly positive to the record: "[The Doors] for Elektra is wild, rough and although it's subtle in places, the overall sound is torrid. They're blues-based and get quite an effective sound."[86] According to Densmore, the Beatles had reportedly bought ten copies of the album,[87] and Paul McCartney has claimed that following the album's release, he wanted his band to capture the Doors' musical style as one of the "alter egos" of the group for their upcoming concept album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[nb 3]

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 original hard rock" 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".[90] 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".[91]

The Doors has since been ranked by critics as one of the greatest albums of all time. In 1993, New Musical Express writers cited The Doors the 25th greatest album of all time,[92] while in 1998, it was named the 70th in a "Music of the Millennium" poll conducted in the UK by HMV Group, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM.[93] 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."[81] 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."[94] AllMusic critic Richie Unterberger, lauded The Doors as a "tremendous debut album, and indeed one of the best first-time outings in rock history", concluding in his review that "The End" was "a haunting cap to an album whose nonstop melodicism and dynamic tension would never be equaled by the group again, let alone bettered."[75]

The Doors has been numerously cited as the group's finest record.[2][75][95] In 2000, the album was voted number 46 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[96] The Doors was ranked No. 42 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[97] When the list was revised in 2020, the album was repositioned at No. 86.[98] Two of the album's songs, "Light My Fire" and "The End", were also present on Rolling Stone's 2004 list "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[99] Q magazine readers ranked the album at No. 75 on its list of the "100 Greatest Albums Ever",[100] while NME magazine at No. 226 on their respective list "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[101] In 2007, Rolling Stone included it on their list of The 40 Essential Albums of 1967.[102] More recently in 2020, online media magazine Loudwire placed The Doors one of the "25 Legendary Rock Albums With No Weak Songs".[103] In a list published the next year in February, Ultimate Classic Rock cited it as the fourth-top psychedelic rock album of all time.[7]

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.[28]

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)"3:15
6."Light My Fire" 7:06
Total length:21:16
Side two
1."Back Door Man"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
Total length:22:25 43:34


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


Personnel adapted from the 50th Anniversary edition album liner notes:[74]

The Doors

Additional musicians




Chart (1967–69) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[111] 15
US Billboard 200[112] 2
Chart (2021) Peak
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[113] 4


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 6]
1967 "Light My Fire" / "The Crystal Ship" Hot 100 1[115]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[116] Platinum 60,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[117] Platinum 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[118] 4× Platinum 400,000^
France (SNEP)[119] 3× Platinum 900,000*
Germany (BVMI)[120] Platinum 500,000^
Italy (FIMI)[121]
sales since 2009
Platinum 50,000
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[122] Gold 50,000^
Sweden (GLF)[123] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[124] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[125] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[126] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Indian Summer" was the first recording session, occurred on August 19, 1966.[22]
  2. ^ Despite their contributions, both Robby Krieger and Larry Knechtel were not credited in the album's liner notes as bass players.[28]
  3. ^ Paul McCartney didn't refer specifically to the eponymous-debut album,[88] but only The Doors was officially released during the period of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band's making.[89]
  4. ^ Engineer Bruce Botnick has claimed that the song's bass guitar was provided by session musician Larry Knechtel,[105] but Krieger argues that he played the bass part.[36][106][107]
  5. ^ Bruce Botnick stated on the documentary Classic Albums: The Doors, while hearing the song's final verse: "It's possible that Paul Rothchild would singing in there too."[104]
  6. ^ Although some sources incorrectly state this record peaked at 106, the actual chart published in Billboard verifies the position was 126.[114]


  1. ^ Smith, Thomas (May 22, 2018). "The Doors' Jim Morrison: 10 Profound, Bizarre and Brilliant Quotes". NME. Retrieved May 16, 2021. The Doors' debut album is undeniably one of the greatest psych-rock records of all time, ...
  2. ^ a b Gallucci, Michael (October 23, 2015). "Doors Albums Ranked Worst to Best". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  3. ^ Buskin, Richard. "Classic Tracks: The Doors 'Strange Days'". Sound On Sound. Retrieved June 5, 2021. Engineer and producer Bruce Botnick recorded some of the greatest artifacts of West Coast psychedelia, among them the first five albums by the Doors.
  4. ^ a b "The Doors – Album Details". Thedoors.com. Archived from the original on September 7, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  5. ^ "The Doors: The Doors". BBC Four. September 26, 2009. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Runtagh, Jordan (January 4, 2017). "The Doors' Debut Album: Things You Didn't Know". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Gallucci, Michael (February 23, 2021). "Top 25 Psychedelic Rock Albums". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  8. ^ "New Entries to National Recording Registry". Library of Congress. March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  9. ^ Moskowitz 2015, p. 222.
  10. ^ Goldsmith 2019, p. 92.
  11. ^ a b Taysom, Joe (April 16, 2020). "How Jim Morrison Got the Doors Fired From Whisky a Go Go". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  12. ^ Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 37.
  13. ^ Kielty, Martin (January 27, 2019). "Robby Krieger Recalls Move to Electric Guitar". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  14. ^ Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 53.
  15. ^ Weidman 2011, pp. 120–121.
  16. ^ a b Cherry 2013, p. 13.
  17. ^ a b c Jackson, Blair (July 3, 1981). "BAM Interview with Paul Rothchild". Waiting for the Sun Archives.
  18. ^ Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 58.
  19. ^ Weiss 2021, p. 5.
  20. ^ Densmore 1990, p. 90.
  21. ^ Gallucci, Michael (January 4, 1966). "Revisiting the Doors' Historic Debut Album". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  22. ^ Goldmine Staff (December 8, 2020). "Checking back in to the Morrison Hotel". Goldmine Magazine. Retrieved August 3, 2022.
  23. ^ "Paul Rothchild Speaks About Recording The Doors". Thedoors.com. Englewood, New Jersey. March 15, 1967. Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  24. ^ Weidman 2011, p. 148.
  25. ^ Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 68.
  26. ^ a b c Kubernik, Harvey. "Ray Manzarek on The Doors' 6 Studio Albums: The 'Lost' Interviews". Best Classic Bands. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  27. ^ Classic Albums 2008, 26:33.
  28. ^ a b c The Doors (Album notes). The Doors. New York City: Elektra Records. 1967. Back cover. EKS-74007.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  29. ^ a b Classic Albums Extras 2008, 0:00–0:40.
  30. ^ a b Paul, Alan (January 8, 2016). "The Doors' Robby Krieger Sheds Light – Album by Album". Guitar World. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  31. ^ Weidman 2011, p. 149.
  32. ^ a b Fong-Torres & The Doors 2006, p. 71.
  33. ^ a b Davis 2004, p. 139.
  34. ^ Sullivan, Steve (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. Vol. 2. Scarecrow Press. pp. 484–5. ISBN 978-0-8108-8296-6. Archived from the original on December 21, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ a b c Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman Q&A and Performance. Event occurs at 12:50–13:33. Archived from the original on December 11, 2021. Retrieved August 19, 2020 – via YouTube.
  37. ^ "January 1967: The Doors Debut with The Doors". Rhino.com. January 3, 2022. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  38. ^ a b "Jac Holzman Talks The Doors – the Doors". Thedoors.com. July 31, 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  39. ^ Weidman 2011, p. 201.
  40. ^ 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.
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  50. ^ Manzarek 1998, p. 78.
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