The History of The Doors

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California, The Doors was one of the 1960's most popular yet controversial bands. Their passion for their hard rock and psychedelic sound could be seen in their powerful live shows. However, their success and the accompanying rock and roll lifestyle sometimes went to their heads, as could be seen by the wild behavior of frontman Jim Morrison. Regardless, The Doors have left a rock legacy with songs such as "Light My Fire," "Hello, I Love You," "Touch Me," and "Riders on the Storm". In this video, we take a look at the history of the American rock band, The Doors.


Rock band The Doors formed in Los Angeles, California in 1965.  Consisting of singer Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore, the group played gigs in and around L.A. before getting signed.

"Light My Fire"

They released their self-titled debut on Elektra Records in 1967.  The psychedelic rock album’s first single was the unsuccessful “Break On Through (To the Other Side).”  However, their next single, “Light My Fire,” went to number one on the charts.  Even though it was less than half the length of the original album version, the song helped bring the record to number two on the U.S. charts.

"Strange Days"

A number of concerts and television appearances followed, including a performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”  The group’s sophomore effort, Strange Days, came out a few months later.  While it peaked at the third position of the Billboard 200 chart, its highest-charting single, “People Are Strange,” only went to number twelve.

Number One Record

A few months later, Jim Morrison was arrested during a New Haven, Connecticut concert after he insulted the police.  The following year, The Doors came out with their first and only number one record, Waiting for the Sun.  The LP yielded the number one single “Hello, I Love You” and was supported by the band’s first shows outside of North America.

"The Soft Parade"

Up next was 1969’s The Soft Parade.  Though Morrison’s drug and alcohol issues troubled its recording sessions, the album became a top ten hit.  The effort featured experimentation with horns and pop sounds, and also spawned the popular top-three single, “Touch Me.”

Bad Behavior

That same year, Morrison’s wild on-stage behavior in Miami, Florida resulted in the band’s most controversial set ever. The frontman was later charged with indecent exposure, public profanity and public drunkenness.  He was issued a posthumous pardon in 2010.

Hard Rock Roots

The Doors released their fifth album, Morrison Hotel, in 1970.  The critically praised effort marked a return to their hard rock roots, though blues influences could also be heard on such singles as “Roadhouse Blues.”


Their first live album, Absolutely Live, dropped a few months later, and it featured Morrison’s poetic narrative “Celebration of the Lizard.”  The band continued to tour that summer, and one of the most notable appearances was at the Isle of Wight Festival in England.

"L.A. Woman"

At the end of the year, The Doors performed their last shows with Morrison in support of their upcoming album, L.A. Woman.  The 1971 blues-rock LP was also their last with Morrison as lead singer.  It spawned the top-twenty singles “Love Her Madly” and “Riders on the Storm.” 

Death of Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison died in Paris, France on July 3rd, 1971.  As no official autopsy was performed, many believe that a drug overdose was the most probable cause of death.

Continuing Without Morrison and Eventual Breakup

The Doors continued as a trio, with Krieger and Manzarek on vocals.  They released two albums, Other Voices and Full Circle, before finally breaking up in 1973. In fact, Full Circle featured The Doors’ last hit single, “The Mosquito.”

Brief Reunion

In 1978, the surviving members of The Doors got back together to release An American Prayer.  The commercially successful album contained Morrison’s poetry and other spoken word pieces set to newly recorded music. 

Solo Projects and Posthumous Releases

Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore continued to make music via solo projects and other endeavors throughout the years.  Meanwhile, several compilations featuring some of The Doors’ earliest live recordings, unreleased material, and more were released. 


Two notable films about The Doors were also made.  These were the 1991 biopic, “The Doors,” and the 2010 documentary “When You’re Strange,” which consisted of rare interviews and archive footage. 


Led by the charismatic and impulsive Jim Morrison, The Doors became one of the 1960’s most popular and controversial bands.  To this day, they remain musical legends that are known for their provocative and psychedelic hard rock sound and memorable live shows.