The Doors' John Densmore - Part Two - Off The Road - HPR's All Things Considered

Feb 26, 2021

Credit artist photo courtesy Jeff Katz

Today on Off the Road, HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence concludes two weeks with The Doors, and drummer John Densmore. Subscribe to Off the Road on Apple and Spotify podcasts.

John recently released his latest book, The Seekers, Meetings with Remarkable Musicians (and Other Artists). After documenting his time with The Doors in previous offerings, this one also provides plenty of stories about the band, but does so in the context of highlighting various musicians, artists, teachers and other people who helped influence him and shape his life. John joined us remotely from his home in Santa Monica, California.

The Doors were a groundbreaking rock band that fused poetry, blues, various styles of rock and other musical flavors into a composite like few bands before them. With sometimes darker overtones and singer Jim Morrison’s charismatic personality and stunning lyrics, they exploded into popularity in the late 1960’s, creating an enduring sound that decades later retains its power and freshness. John Densmore played drums on every Doors album and was there from the beginning. It’s hard to measure just how significant their body of work has become. The Doors have factored into rock music ever since, are an enduring part of radio programming around the world, and their music, recorded more than a half century ago, maintains a freshness, and timeless sound that defies it’s age. It’s still rebellious, psychedelic, tense and defiant. Jim’s incredible voice and wide range of singing styles, Ray Manzarek’s signature keyboard work, Robby Krieger’s distinctive guitar sound, and John Densmore’s solid playing and jazzy drum licks continue to engage fans the world over. John, for his part, bore witness to numerous chapters of their short career, and has been reflecting on it ever since.

In part one of our radio feature, we started with chapter one, based around his mother, and some very personal experiences involving The Doors. We also dig into the chapter focused on John Coltrane’s legendary drummer Elvin Jones, and John’s encounters with him and ways his playing – and some Doors’ songs - were influenced by this musical heavyweight. We also cover John’s experiences connecting to Janis Joplin, which included venturing to the 1969 Woodstock concert (where The Doors did not appear).

This week we’ve concluded with more insights into his relationship with his bandmates in The Doors, and more fascinating stories about Jim Morrison, including his last contact with Jim when he was in Paris, where he’d pass away in 1971, as well as first-hand details of working on some of The Doors’ biggest songs with Jim and the band. There is also a great story about time with Willie Nelson and his sons Micah and Lukas in Hawaii, which is both the final chapter in The Seekers, and where we wrap up our interview feature. We've also posted the entire one-hour conversation below, with many more stories from the new book and about John's experiences with The Doors. 

Off the Road is a series of interviews with musicians remotely sharing how they’ve been touched by the pandemic and other crises, discussing their latest projects, including hours of conversation and many exclusive musical performances, speaking to artists across the musical spectrum, including Al Di MeolaPeter Frampton, System Of A DownCarlos Santana10,000 ManiacsJohn McLaughlinThird WorldLinda Ronstadt, Deep Purple, and Heart.

MORE:

Hear the complete interview with John:

See John playing earlier this month with Micah Nelson:

See The Doors classic show at the Hollywood Bowl 1968:

See The Doors perform When The Music's Over in 1970 at Isle Of Wight:

Hear The Doors perform The End at Madison Square Garden in 1970:

Hear Dave's interview with Ray Manzarek in February 2005.

Hear Dave's interview with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger in March 2005.

Hear Dave's interview with Ray Manzaerk from December 2005.

Hear Dave's interview with Ray Manzaerk from February 2013.

 

Dave interviewing Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger & Ian Astbury in Honolulu, 2005
Dave with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger in Honolulu, 2005

Hear the complete Off the Road series.