Publicity photo of Densmore, 1966
|Birth name||John Paul Densmore|
|Born||December 1, 1944|
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
John Paul Densmore (born December 1, 1944) is an American musician, songwriter, author and actor. He is best known as the drummer of the rock band the Doors, and as such is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.He appeared on every recording made by the band, with drumming inspired by jazz and world music as much as by rock and roll.
Densmore is also noted for his veto of attempts by the other two Doors members, in the wake of singer Jim Morrison's 1971 death, to accept offers to license the rights to various Doors songs for commercial purposes, as well as his objections to their use in the 21st century of the Doors name and logo. Densmore's lengthy court battles to gain compliance with his veto, based on a 1960s contract requiring unanimity among Doors members to use the band's name or music, ended with total victory for him and his allies in the Morrison estate.
Densmore has worked additionally in the performing arts as a dancer and actor, and written successfully as both a playwright and the author of two books on the topic of the Doors. The many honors he shares with the other Doors include a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Born in Los Angeles on December 1, 1944, Densmore grew up playing piano and later took up drums/percussion for the marching band at his school. He also played timpani in orchestra.Densmore attended Santa Monica City College and California State University, Northridge; at the latter he studied ethnic music under jazz cellist Fred Katz.
Densmore's drumming influences included hard jazz figures Elvin Jones (drummer for John Coltrane) and Art Blakey.
In the mid-1960s Densmore joined guitarist Robby Krieger in a band called the Psychedelic Rangers; shortly thereafter he began rehearsals with keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Manzarek's two brothers and Jim Morrison in the group Rick & the Ravens. On the brothers' departure from the band, Densmore recommended Krieger join them, thus forming the Doors in 1965.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame webpage on the Doors observes that "As a drummer, Densmore had a creative, dynamic flair that lent itself to the Doors' surreal, kaleidoscopic music." ... Densmore favored a lean, crisp, clear style in feel-good rhythmic explorations that, like the band's songs, gathered together ideas from blues, pop, jazz, classical, and Latin, Eastern, and African music. There are many reasons to love this slyly inventive, often underrated drummer." Together with Krieger, Densmore studied under Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar at the latter's Kinnara School of Music in Los Angeles.In 2010 Modern Drummer magazine referred to his ride cymbal work as some of the most distinctive in classic rock, and noted "Working without a regular bass-playing foil
The quartet, after two years of work, became star attractions in 1967, and released six studio and several live albums, eventually selling over 100 million units.
According to Densmore's autobiography, he had quit the band on one occasion in reaction to Morrison's increasingly self-destructive behavior, although Densmore returned the next day. Densmore repeatedly suggested that the band stop touring, but Krieger and Manzarek were resistant to this notion. After the Doors' disastrous performance with a gibberish-spouting Morrison in New Orleans on December 12, 1970, the band agreed to stop performing live, and the concert was the Doors' last public appearance as a quartet.
Over his years with the Doors, Densmore used a variety of drum sets, including Gretsch and later Ludwig. He also used Zildjian and later Paiste cymbals.
When Morrison died in 1971, the surviving trio recorded two more albums of songs and an instrumental backdrop for the late singer's recorded poetry. Densmore remained a member until the band's dissolution in 1973.
Densmore formed a musical group with fellow ex-Doors member Robby Krieger in 1973 called the Butts Band. The group released two albums with two different lineups, and disbanded in 1975. Densmore left rock and roll in the 1980s, moving to the world of dance as he performed with Bess Snyder and Co., touring the United States for two years.
In 1984, at La Mama Theatre in New York, he made his stage acting debut in Skins, a one-act play he had written. In 1985, he won the LA Weekly Theater Award for music with Methusalem, directed by Tim Robbins. The play Rounds, which he co-produced, won the NAACP award for theatre in 1987. In 1988, he played a feature role in Band Dreams and Bebop at the Gene Dynarski Theatre. He developed and performed a one-man piece from the Donald Barthelme short story, The King of Jazz, at the Wallenboyd Theatre in 1989. With Adam Ant, he co-produced Be Bop A Lula at Theatre Theatre in 1992. He has acted in numerous TV shows, most memorably as himself in the show Square Pegs , working as a drummer for Johnny Slash's band Open 24 Hours, and in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 in 1992, in Series 2, Episode 23, where he plays Ben, Dylan's sponsor.
His film credits include Get Crazy with Malcolm McDowell, Dudes directed by Penelope Spheeris, and The Doors directed by Oliver Stone.In the Stone film he was portrayed by actor Kevin Dillon. He also produced and co-scored the feature film, "Window of Opportunity", a dark comedy about corporate greed written and directed by Samuel Warren Joseph.
Densmore wrote his best-selling autobiography, Riders on the Storm (1990),about his life and the time he spent with Morrison and the Doors. In the first chapter Densmore describes the solemn day on which he and the band finally visited Morrison's grave around three years after Morrison's death.
Densmore appears alongside Krieger and Manzarek in 2012's RE:GENERATION, a documentary directed by Amir Bar-Lev. It features Densmore collaborating on a new song with Skrillex.
Densmore, Manzarek and Krieger, after Jim Morrison's death, allowed "Riders on the Storm" to be used to sell Pirelli Tyres, but in the United Kingdom only. Densmore later stated that he "heard Jim's voice" in his ears and ended up donating his share of the money earned to charity. In 2003, Densmore vetoed an offer by Cadillac of $15 million for "Break On Through (To the Other Side)" citing Morrison's historic and vehement opposition to licensing the Doors' music, notably their best-selling single "Light My Fire" for a Buick television commercial, as well as Densmore's strong views on the subject; Densmore objected to Manzarek and Krieger touring using the name "Doors of the 21st Century."
In a subsequent court case, in which Densmore was joined by the Morrison estate, opposing lawyers attempted to portray Densmore as un-American, a communist and an eco-terrorist. Notable musicians who testified in support of Densmore included Bonnie Raitt, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Eddie Vedder and Tom Waits. Former drummer for the Police, Stewart Copeland, who had performed with Krieger and Manzarek in 2002 and 2003, also testified in Densmore's and the Morrison estate's behalf.
In 2013 Densmore released The Doors Unhinged, a book covering his lengthy but victorious legal battle with Krieger and Manzarek over their use of the Doors' name and logo in their touring and Densmore's veto of the Cadillac commercial offer.Manzarek and Densmore reconciled shortly before Manzarek's death in 2013. Densmore and Krieger have occasionally appeared together on stage again.."
As a member of the Doors, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.Along with his 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Densmore, as a member of the Doors, was recognized in 2007 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also in 2007, Densmore and his band mates were awarded a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.
He and the Doors have been saluted twice by the City of Los Angeles, which in 2017 issued a proclamation at a public gathering in Venice Beach observing January 4 as the 'Day of the Doors' in honor of the 50th anniversary of the group's self-titled album release on that date in 1967.At the event, Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin introduced Densmore and Krieger who ceremonially lit a Doors logo beneath the famed 'Venice' letters. A year later, on January 4, 2018, Densmore accepted a second proclamation from Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz at the junction of Densmore Avenue and Morrison Street in Encino, Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley in which honorary street signs were unveiled.
The Doors were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1965, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. They were among the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s, mostly because of Morrison's lyrics and voice along with his erratic stage persona, and the group was widely regarded as an important part of the era's counterculture.
Strange Days is the second studio album by the American rock band the Doors, released on September 25, 1967, by Elektra Records. The album was a commercial success, reaching number three on the US Billboard 200, and eventually earning RIAA platinum certification. The album contains the Top 30 hit singles "People Are Strange" and "Love Me Two Times".
Robert Alan Krieger is an American guitarist and singer-songwriter best known as the guitarist of the rock band The Doors; as such he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Krieger wrote or co-wrote many of the Doors' songs, including the hits "Light My Fire", "Love Me Two Times", "Touch Me", and "Love Her Madly". After the Doors disbanded, Krieger continued his performing and recording career with other musicians including former Doors bandmates John Densmore and Ray Manzarek. He was listed by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Raymond Daniel Manzarek Jr. was an American musician, singer, producer, film director, and author, best known as a member of The Doors from 1965 to 1973, which he co-founded with singer and lyricist Jim Morrison. Manzarek was notable for performing on a keyboard bass during many live shows and some recordings, taking on a role usually filled by a bass guitar player.
"Moonlight Drive" is a song by American rock band the Doors, released in 1967 on their second album Strange Days. It was edited to a 2:16 length for the 45 rpm single B-side of "Love Me Two Times". Though a conventional blues arrangement, "Moonlight Drive"'s defining feature was its slightly off-beat rhythm, and Robby Krieger's "bottleneck" or slide guitar, which creates an eerie sound. It was recorded during the group's first demo recordings at Trans World Pacific Studios.
Rick & the Ravens was an American rock and roll band founded in 1961, known as a precursor to The Doors. Members Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Jim Morrison renamed the group in the latter half of 1965 after joining forces with Robby Krieger.
The Doors is a 1991 American biographical film about the 1960–1970s rock band of the same name, which emphasizes the life of its lead singer, Jim Morrison. It was directed by Oliver Stone, and stars Val Kilmer as Morrison and Meg Ryan as Pamela Courson. The film features Kyle MacLachlan as keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Frank Whaley as guitarist Robby Krieger, Kevin Dillon as drummer John Densmore, and Kathleen Quinlan as journalist Patricia Kennealy.
"Riders on the Storm" is a song by American rock band the Doors. It was released as the second single from their sixth studio album and last with singer Jim Morrison, L.A. Woman, in June 1971. It reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., number 22 on the UK Singles Chart and number seven in the Netherlands.
"Love Me Two Times" is a song by the American rock band the Doors. It first appeared on their second studio album Strange Days. It was edited to a 2:37 length and released as the second single from that album, and reached number 25 on the charts in the United States.
"Back Door Man" is a blues song written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin' Wolf in 1960. It was released in 1961 by Chess Records as the B-side to Wolf's "Wang Dang Doodle". The song is considered a classic of Chicago blues.
Legacy: The Absolute Best is a two-disc compilation album by American rock band the Doors, released in 2003. This compilation includes the uncensored versions of both "Break On Through " and "The End". Also included is a previously unreleased studio version of Morrison's epic poetry piece "Celebration of the Lizard," a rehearsal outtake from the band's Waiting for the Sun sessions.
13 is the first compilation album by American rock band the Doors, released by Elektra Records on November 30, 1970. The title refers to the thirteen tracks included, which feature a variety of songs from their five studio albums released up to that point and the cover shrinkwrap originally featured a clear sticker that read: "A Collection of Thirteen Classic Doors Songs". It is the band's only compilation album released while lead singer Jim Morrison was alive.
"Hyacinth House" is a song by the American rock band the Doors. It appears on the L.A. Woman album released in 1971, the last album that lead singer Jim Morrison recorded with the band.
"Roadhouse Blues" is a song by the American rock band the Doors, which appears on the 1970 album Morrison Hotel. It was released as the B-side of "You Make Me Real", which peaked at number 50 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song became a concert staple for the group and it has been covered by numerous artists.
"People Are Strange" is a song by the American rock band the Doors. It appears on the band's second studio album, Strange Days, released in September 1967. It was also issued the same month as a single, which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and in the top ten on the Cash Box charts. The song was written by Jim Morrison and Robby Krieger, although credit was given to each of the Doors. The single was released with "Unhappy Girl" as the B-side.
"Love Her Madly" is a song by American rock band the Doors. Written by Doors' guitarist Robby Krieger it was released in March 1971 and was the first single from L.A. Woman, their final album with singer Jim Morrison. "Love Her Madly" became one of the highest-charting hits for the Doors; it peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and reached number three in Canada. Session musician Jerry Scheff played bass guitar on the song.
When You're Strange: Music from the Motion Picture is the studio album and the soundtrack to the 2010 documentary film, narrated by Johnny Depp, about The Doors and their music. The soundtrack features 14 songs from The Doors’ six studio albums, with studio versions mixed with live versions, including performances from The Ed Sullivan Show, Television-Byen in Gladsaxe, Felt Forum in New York and Isle of Wight Festival 1970.
Butts Band was a British and American group formed by ex-Doors members John Densmore and Robby Krieger that was active from 1973 to 1975. The band released two albums and with the exception of Krieger and Densmore, they consisted of different band personnel on each.
Manzarek–Krieger was an American rock band formed by two former members of The Doors, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, in 2002. They were also known as The Doors of the 21st Century, D21C, and Riders on the Storm. They settled on using Manzarek–Krieger or Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors for legal reasons, after acrimonious debates and court battles between the two musicians and Doors co-founder/ drummer John Densmore. They performed Doors material exclusively until the death of Manzarek in 2013.
Live at The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is a live album by the American rock band the Doors, released on February 23, 2018 on Rhino Records. The concert was recorded at the Isle of Wight Festival in England on August 30, 1970, and this was released by Eagle Rock Entertainment. It was the group's final appearance as a foursome outside of the US and also the last full filming of a Doors concert.
It smelled like rain. I had hoped it would storm. Then we wouldn't have had to see his grave. My heartbeat was increasing. I looked over at Robby, Danny, and Herve in the car as we approached the cemetery.