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Riders on the Storm | The Nation

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Riders on the Storm

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Dread ripples through me as I listen to a phone message from our manager saying that we (The Doors) have another offer of huge amounts of money if we would just allow one of our songs to be used as the background for a commercial. They don't give up! I guess it's hard to imagine that everybody doesn't have a price. Maybe 'cause, as the cement heads try to pave the entire world, they're paving their inner world as well. No imagination left upstairs.

About the Author

John Densmore
John Densmore is a member of The Doors and author of the bestselling Riders on the Storm (Bantam).

Apple Computer called on a Tuesday--they already had the audacity to spend money to cut "When the Music's Over" into an ad for their new cube computer software. They want to air it the next weekend, and will give us a million and a half dollars! A MILLION AND A HALF DOLLARS! Apple is a pretty hip company...we use computers.... Dammit! Why did Jim (Morrison) have to have such integrity?

I'm pretty clear that we shouldn't do it. We don't need the money. But I get such pressure from one particular bandmate (the one who wears glasses and plays keyboards).

"Commercials will give us more exposure," he says. I ask him, "so you're not for it because of the money?" He says "no," but his first question is always "how much?" when we get one of these offers, and he always says he's for it. He never suggests we play Robin Hood, either. If I learned anything from Jim, it's respect for what we created. I have to pass. Thank God, back in 1965 Jim said we should split everything, and everyone has veto power. Of course, every time I pass, they double the offer!

It all started in 1967, when Buick proffered $75,000 to use "Light My Fire" to hawk its new hot little offering--the Opel. As the story goes--which everyone knows who's read my autobiography or seen Oliver Stone's movie--Ray, Robby and John (that's me) OK'd it, while Jim was out of town. He came back and went nuts. And it wasn't even his song (Robby primarily having penned "LMF")! In retrospect, his calling up Buick and saying that if they aired the ad, he'd smash an Opel on television with a sledgehammer was fantastic! I guess that's one of the reasons I miss the guy.

It actually all really started back in '65, when we were a garage band and Jim suggested sharing all the songwriting credits and money. Since he didn't play an instrument--literally couldn't play one chord on piano or guitar, but had lyrics and melodies coming out of his ears--the communal pot idea felt like a love-in. Just so no one got too weird, he tagged that veto thought on. Democracy in action...only sometimes avenues between "Doors" seem clogged with bureaucratic BS. In the past ten years it's definitely intensified...maybe we need a third party. What was that original intent? Liberty and justice for all songs...and the pursuit of happiness.... What is happiness? More money? More fame? The Vietnamese believe that you're born with happiness; you don't have to pursue it. We tried to bomb that out of them back in my youth. From the looks of things, we might have succeeded.

This is sounding pretty depressing, John; where are you going here? The whole world is hopefully heading toward democracy. That's a good thing, John.... Oh, yeah: the greed gene. Vaclav Havel had it right when he took over as president of Czechoslovakia, after the fall of Communism. He said, "We're not going to rush into this too quickly, because I don't know if there's that much difference between KGB and IBM."

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