Ray Manzarek and Robbie Kreiger's decision to tour in 2002-2003 as The Doors, with singer Ian Astbury taking over the late Jim Morrison's role resulted in controversy and a lawsuit filed by drummer John Densmore, but thousands of fans turned out, excited to relive the band's heyday in any way they could. One of the most popular and controversial bands of the 60s, the band began as a dream of UCLA film student Jim Morrison, who sang an early original composition, "Moonlight Drive" to fellow student, keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Morrison joined Manzarek's band, Rick and the Ravens, which initially included Manzarek's two brothers and later Densmore. The brothers didn't like Morrison's musical contributions, and so were replaced by Krieger, whom Densmore met at a meditation center.
The Doors' first residencies were at the London Fog and Whisky-A-Go-Go on Sunset Strip, but they were fired from the latter for performing their controversial song "The End." Still, they built a following and were signed by Elektra Records' Jac Holzman in 1966. The 1967 debut featured the now classic "Light My Fire," which hit #1 and was one of the most exciting and renowned recordings of the psychedelic era.
The Doors' second album, Strange Days, showcased "When The Music's Over," and the quartet enjoyed further chart success when "People Are Strange" made the U.S. Top 20. In 1968, they had another number 1 single with the infectious "Hello, I Love You".
The charismatic Morrison was a lightning rod for controversy all through the years the of The Doors' heyday, including his 1969 arrest at a concert in Miami for indecent exposure. Although Morrison was later acquitted of all but the minor charges, the incident clouded the band's career when live dates for the next few months were cancelled. On the plus side, this furor awakened the Doors' creativity. The R&B oriented Morrison Hotel matched the best of their early releases, and Absolutely Live, an in-concert set edited from a variety of sources, gave the impression of a single performance and exhibited the band's raw power. Jim's wild and frenzied personal lifestyle was catching up with him professionally, and he realized that he was on a path that could only end in self-destruction.
Therefore, having completed sessions at the band's workshop for a new album, (the last owed to Elektra), the singer escaped to Paris where he hoped to follow a literary career and abandon music altogether.
Tragically, years of hedonistic excess had taken its toll and on 3 July 1971, Jim Morrison was found dead in his bathtub, his passing recorded officially as a heart attack. He was buried in Paris' Pere Lachaise cemetery in the esteemed company of Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, and Honore de Balzac. L.A. Woman, his final recording with the Doors, is one of the band's finest achievements.
The survivors continued to work as the Doors, but while Other Voices showed some promise, Full Circle was severely flawed and the band soon dissolved. Densmore and Krieger formed the Butts Band, with whom they recorded two albums before splitting to pursue different paths.
The evocative use of "The End" in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam war movie, Apocalypse Now, also generated renewed interest in the Door's legacy, and indeed, it is on those first recordings that the Doors' considerable reputation, and influence, rest. Since then their catalogue has never been out of print, and future generations of rock fans will almost certainly use them as a major role model. Director Oliver Stone's 1991 movie biography The Doors, starring Val Kilmer, helped confirm Morrison as one of the 60s' great cultural icons.