Jim Morrison & The Doors played West Hollywood's Whisky A Go-GoThe Doors at The Whisky

On May 23, 1966, the Doors began their legendary engagement as house band at the Whisky A Go-Go. During their tenure at the Whisky, the Doors open for such acts as Them, featuring Van Morrison, Buffalo Springfield, Love, The Chambers Brothers and Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band.

Exposed to a wide-ranging audience — hardened groupies to Iowa tourists —The Doors began to experiment daringly. Allegedly, the experiments often took the form of drug trips, and weekly tales of The Doors' freaked-out adventures flew: “Morrison was so stoned last night he fell off the stage again”; “Ray sniffed an amyl nitrate cap and played so long he had to be dragged away from the organ”; “They all arrived stoned and started improvising at random—I don't know what it was, but it was great!” According to one friend of the group, Morrison was so consistently high on acid during this period that he could eat sugar cubes like candy without visible effect. But, inexplicably, the music kept getting better.

A Not-So-Successful Night

The Doors played second billing to just about everybody at the Whisky. If the high points were nights with Love, Them, the Turtles, the Seeds, Captain Beefheart and others, there were nights which weren't so special ... One of these was the night they shared billing with the number one band in Mexico, the Locos. (“The Locos were a real low point in our careers,” recalls Manzarek. “They were terrible, the kids hated them, and we were caught in the cross fire.”) Fortunately, this was far from the rule during the Doors' installment at the Whisky.
Popular mythology has it that the Doors are repeatedly fired by proprietor Phil Tanzini. This story is not true, and is essentially an embellishment of the tension which existed between them. However, it is Phil who dismisses them in August on the night that Jim inserts the Oedipal section into The End.

The Doors' sets are comprised mainly of songs which will appear on their first two albums. Night after night they develop and refine their songs in front of a live audience. The End is gradually transformed from a rather transient love song of bittersweet departure into the ominous saga which evokes a descent into the dark night of the soul. In addition to their regular sets, they try out newer songs on the slower nights of Monday - Wednesday. Latin Bullshit #2 is an instrumental jazz piece roughly based on a Gil Evans composition. The instrumental serves as a filler, which they continue to play through the Ondine's gigs in New York. It later evolves into Away in India, featured in a medley often referred to as the People Get Ready Jam which they often performed in 1970. Their version of Summertime is a waltz instrumental loosely styled after John Coltrane's version of My Favorite Things. These two instrumentals often serve to open sets when Jim is late arriving at the club.

The Doors and Van Morrison's band Them at the Whisky A Go-Go

Copyright 2002 by Eye Magazine/Waiting-forthe-Sun.net

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The Doors at The Whisky A Go-Go