The Doors (album)

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The Doors
Studio album by the Doors
Released January 4, 1967 (1967-01-04)
Recorded August 24–31, 1966
Studio Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 44:48
Label Elektra
Producer Paul 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 self-titled debut album by the American rock band the Doors, 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 credit the success of the album to being able to work the songs out night after night at the Whisky a Go Go and the London Fog nightclubs in West Hollywood, California.[citation needed]

The Doors was not only one of the albums to have been most central to the progression of psychedelic rock, but is also one of the most acclaimed recordings in all of popular music. In 2012, it was ranked number 42 in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest albums of all time.

The original album has sold 20 million copies, and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame; "Light My Fire" was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It has been reissued several times on CD, including a 2007 remaster that became the Doors' most successful studio album in commercial sales.[citation needed]

In 2015, the Library of Congress selected The Doors for inclusion in the National Recording Registry based on its cultural, artistic or historical significance.[1]


The Doors' final lineup was formed in mid-1965 after Ray Manzarek's two brothers left and Robby Krieger joined.[2] Krieger had only been playing the electric guitar for six months when he joined. The group also featured jazz-influenced drummer John Densmore and the charismatic Jim Morrison on vocals. The band was initially signed to Columbia Records under a six-month contract but agreed to a release after the record company failed to secure a producer for the album.[3] After being released from the label, the Doors played club venues, including the London Fog and Whisky a Go Go, until they were signed to Elektra Records by Jac Holzman.[4]


The album was recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, California over six days, with producer Paul A. Rothchild and audio engineer Bruce Botnick. 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.[5] Rothchild brought in session musician Larry Knechtel to play his Fender Precision Bass on "Light My Fire" and a few other songs in order to give some "punch" to the sound of Manzarek's Fender Rhodes piano bass.[6][7][8][9] For "The End", two takes were edited together to achieve the final recording.[6]


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:

Everytime 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.[10]

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...[11]

In "The End", the vocal interlude of the final minutes was mixed down to make Morrison's repeated use of the word "fuck" unintelligible. The song would be featured prominently in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now!

"Break On Through (To the Other Side)" was released as the group's first single but it was 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.[12] 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).[12] Later, a disjointed quirky organ solo is played quite similar to the introduction of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say",[13] which has a few intentional misplaced notes in it. The bassline, similar to a typical bass line used in bossa nova, continues almost unhindered all of the way through the songs verses and solo section. The chorus varies slightly, with the last two notes being an octave higher than usual, creating an ascending, repeating phrase.

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,[14] so a single version was edited to under three minutes with nearly all the instrumental break removed for airplay on AM radio.[15] Manzarek played the song's bass line with his left hand on a Fender Rhodes Piano Bass, while performing the other keyboard parts on a Vox Continental using his right hand. In the liner notes to the 1997 Doors retrospective Box Set, Krieger claims that it was Morrison who encouraged the others to write songs when they realized they did not have enough original material.

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). The melody is changed and the verse beginning "Show me the way to the next little dollar..." is omitted. On the album version, lead singer Jim 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",[16] but on the 1967 Live at the Matrix recording, he sings the original " pretty boy." Manzarek plays the marxophone along with the organ and keyboard bass. 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.[17] However, the album was already available in some New York City record stores as early as the third week in December 1966 as part of a special promotion.[citation needed] 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. It eventually spent more time on the UK chart than any other Doors studio album.[citation needed]

The mono LP (Elektra EKL-4007) has unique mixes that sound different from the stereo version (EKS-74007). 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. This version has never been officially released on compact disc; it is, however, available for purchase through digital media outlets such as iTunes and Amazon.

The 40th anniversary mix of the debut album presents a stereo version of "Light My Fire" in speed-corrected form for the first time. The speed discrepancy (i.e., about 3.5% slow) was brought to Bruce Botnick's attention by a Brigham Young University professor, who noted that all the video and audio live performances of the Doors performing the song, the sheet music and the statements of band members show the song in a key almost a half step higher (key of A) than the stereo LP release (key of Ab / G#). Until the 2006 remasters, only the original 45 RPM singles ("Light My Fire" and "Break On Through") were produced at the correct speed.[18] The running time of "Light My Fire", while listed correctly above, is incorrectly stated as 6:30 or 6:50 on some LP and CD versions of the album. An edited version was issued as the Doors' second single in May 1967, with most of its organ and guitar solos removed it had a running time of 2:52. As per the aforementioned speed discrepancy, the 40th anniversary speed-corrected mix made "Light My Fire" 6:59, with all solos intact.

The Doors has been released in 2006 in multichannel DVD-Audio,[19] and on September 14, 2011, on hybrid stereo-multichannel Super Audio CD by Warner Japan in their Warner Premium Sound series.[20]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[21]
Down Beat 4.5/5 stars[22]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[23]
MusicHound Rock 4/5[24]
Q 4/5 stars[22]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[25]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[26]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[27]
The Village Voice B–[28]

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."[29] 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".[30] 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".[31]

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.[32] 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."[25] 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."[33]

The Doors is ranked number 42 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and also on "The Rolling Stone Hall of Fame". It is ranked number 75 on Q magazine's "100 Greatest Albums Ever"[34] and ranked number 226 in NME magazine's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time"[35] In 2007, Rolling Stone ranked it number 1 on their list of the 40 essential albums of 1967.[36]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by the Doors (Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore), except where noted.

Side A
No. Title Length
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)" (writers: Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill) 3:20
6. "Light My Fire" 7:06
Side B
No. Title Length
7. "Back Door Man" (writers: Willie Dixon) 3:34
8. "I Looked at You" 2:22
9. "End of the Night" 2:52
10. "Take It as It Comes" 2:23
11. "The End" 11:41


The Doors[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Larry Knechtel (uncredited) – bass guitar on "Twentieth Century Fox", "Light My Fire", "I Looked At You", and "Take It as It Comes"




Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[41] Gold 30,000*
Austria (IFPI Austria)[42] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[43] 4× Platinum 400,000^
France (SNEP)[44] 3× Platinum 900,000*
Germany (BVMI)[45] Platinum 500,000^
Italy (FIMI)[46] Gold 50,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[47] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[48] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[49] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[50] 5× Platinum 5,000,000^

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


  1. ^ New Entries to National Recording Registry | News Releases - Library of Congress
  2. ^ Fong-Torres 2006, p. 37.
  3. ^ Fong-Torres 2006, p. 53.
  4. ^ Fong-Torres 2006, p. 58.
  5. ^ Fong-Torres 2006, p. 68.
  6. ^ a b Fong-Torres 2006, p. 71.
  7. ^ Davis, Stephen (2005). Jim Morrison: LIfe, Death, Legend. Penguin Books. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-101-21827-3. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ Sullivan, Steve (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. 2. Scarecrow Press. pp. 484–5. ISBN 978-0-8108-8296-6. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ 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. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  10. ^ Hopkins, Jerry (2007). Wenner, Jann; Levy, Joe, eds. The Rolling Stone Interviews (Jim Morrison). New York: Back Bay Books. p. 496. ISBN 0-316-00526-6. ISBN 978-0-31600-526-5. 
  11. ^ James, Lizze (1981). "Jim Morrison: Ten Years Gone". Detroit: Creem Magazine. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  12. ^ a b The Story of "Break on Through" by The Doors
  13. ^ Classic Albums The Doors
  14. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (22 July 1967). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  15. ^ "Light My Fire". Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  16. ^ Alabama Song Lyrics - Doors
  17. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "The Doors – The Doors". AllMusic. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  18. ^ Botnick, Bruce (May 2006). The Doors (40th Anniversary CD liner notes). 
  19. ^ Puterbaugh, Parke (December 3, 2006). "The Doors DVD-As". Sound & Vision. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  20. ^ Warner Premium Sound 14 September releases (in Japanese). Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  21. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "The Doors – The Doors | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "The Doors – The Doors CD Album". CD Universe/Muze. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  23. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 2006. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ a b Puterbaugh, Parke (April 8, 2003). "The Doors by The Doors". Rolling Stone. New York. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2016. 
  26. ^ "The Doors: Album Guide". Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  27. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (April 18, 2007). "The Doors: The Doors | Album Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  28. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 20, 1976). "Christgau's Consumer Guide to 1967". The Village Voice. New York. p. 69. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  29. ^ Williams, Paul (May 5, 1967). "The Doors Review – Crawdaddy!". Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  30. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 1967). "Columns". Esquire. Retrieved April 23, 2016. 
  31. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 1967). "Rock Lyrics Are Poetry (Maybe)". Cheetah. Retrieved April 23, 2016. 
  32. ^ "The Doors". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved April 23, 2016. 
  33. ^ BBC Music review
  34. ^ "Q Magazine 100 Greatest Albums Ever". Discogs. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  35. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  36. ^ "Rolling Stone : Photos : The 40 Essential Albums of 1967 :". Rolling Stone. 2007. Archived from the original on July 8, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  37. ^ THE DOORS | Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman Q&A and Performance - YouTube
  38. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 10094a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  39. ^ a b "The Doors – Chart history" Billboard 200 for The Doors. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  40. ^ Whitburn, Joel. Bubbling Under Singles & Albums (1998): 66.
  41. ^ "Discos de oro y platino" (in Spanish). Cámara Argentina de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Austrian album certifications – The Doors – Doors" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter The Doors in the field Interpret. Enter Doors in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  43. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – The Doors". Music Canada. 
  44. ^ "French album certifications – Doors – The Doors" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select DOORS and click OK
  45. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Doors; 'The Doors (1st Album)')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  46. ^ "Italian album certifications – Doors – The Doors" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana.  Select Album e Compilation in the field Sezione. Enter Doors in the field Filtra. Select 2015 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
  47. ^ "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1991–1995". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano. ISBN 8480486392. 
  48. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (The Doors; 'The Doors')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. 
  49. ^ "British album certifications – Doors – The Doors". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter The Doors in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  50. ^ "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]