The Doors caused controversy when they arrived to make their UK debut, but for two nights at London's Roundhouse it was their unbridled music that did the talking.
by the timeThe doorsarrived in London to play their first UK shows at London's converted The Roundhouse railway station on 6 and 7 September 1968, their notoriety in the US was at its height. The band's arrival in the UK was met with cries of protest, most notably from moralist activist Mary Whitehouse. "The Doors, an extremist political organization, are now in England," he wrote in a telegram to the Chief Superintendent of the Special Branch.
But for the capital's fashion elite, it was a chance to see what the real deal was. The Roundhouse Bill (for two shows in two nights) was supported by co-headliners and other West Coast psychedelic ambassadors.jefferson plane, plus The Mad World of Arthur Brown,Terry Reid, flower fingers and blonde on blonde.
WHO dies,Traffic,cremaand A-list film couple Terence Stamp and Julie Christie represented the capital's music and film royalty, while Granada TV sent its cameras to film a documentary.The doors are open.
Joss Mullinger (Audience):I was a public student at Christ's Hospital in Sussex. I was seventeen and my friends and I were crazy about The Doors. Distributed by Polydor Records in LondonElectra, so I wrote to them in early 1968 and they sent us monthly newsletters, that's how I found out about the Doors concerts.
Jorma Kaukonen (guitarist, avión de Jefferson): Even the physical configuration of The Roundhouse, a circular building, was unusual, different and very cool. For us coming from the West Coast, there was a Mecca aspect to coming to London. It was really exciting to be there, not just for the Beatles and the Stones, but for the whole scene.
Clive Selwood (General Manager, Elektra Records UK):The Doors arrived red-eyed from an overnight flight from the US and were greeted by the Grenada crew, who shoved cameras and microphones in their faces and asked them to identify themselves as they exited the plane. Ray was quiet and studious, Robby was so shy he seemed stoned and inarticulate, John was agile and looking for trouble, and Jim was enigmatic and almost impossibly handsome.
arthur braun:We had played with The Doors and Jefferson Airplane in the States, which meant we already had a connection. [Crazy World co-director] Kit Lambert put me in touch with Jim Morrison at La Chaisse Club in Soho a few days before the shows. It was a strange encounter. Lambert bought both of us drinks, so we sat in silence at the bar for about twenty minutes, until Jim realized something was playing on the radio. He asked me, "Who's that on the radio?" And I said, "I don't know." That was the whole extent of our communication.
Mick Houghton (Espectador): We had tickets for the second show on the first night. It is worth remembering that neither The Doors nor Jefferson Airplane were considered big bands around here. None of them had any big hit singles here.
John Sheppard (Regisseur der Granada TV-Documentation The doors are open): Morrison was completely upset. The rest of the gang stayed at the Royal Lancaster, he and his girlfriend having their own flat in Eaton Square. And he had already missed the soundcheck.
Grace Slick (cantante, Jefferson Airplane):I remember talking to Jim backstage...he was so stoned he had no idea what he was talking about. I asked him a routine question and he said something like, "There is a great sunrise over the green mountain." I don't know how much he knew what he was doing, but he was using himself like a lab rat. I was on a mission to see how far the human mind can go... how far it goes when you push it with chemicals.
Caroline Coon (founder of the charity Release):We had a field office at the shows those two days to help kids with drug problems. We got one or two percent of the ticket price from promoter Middle Earth to cover our costs, so we were involved in all the discussions about how the shows would run. The two bands were very competitive.
Robby Krieger (guitarrista, The Doors):We always had kind of a battle with The Jefferson Airplane because we were two bands from California and it was kind of a rivalry.
Jim Cregan (guitarist, Blossom Toes): We shared a dressing room with The Doors and I remember there was a lot of fuss about who was going to headline.
Ray Manzarek (Teclista, The Doors): "We go further first..." "No, you go..." "We are the biggest..." "No, we are bigger..." We played back and forth.
carolina raccoon: I remember being in the room at that moment when it was suggested that they might split on top billing: one band one day, another the next.
Derek Grant (Revisor, NME): The audience, more than two thousand, sat patiently from half past six and had to wait another two hours for the start of the action. The stage darkened and the audience cheered as sinister figures emerged and took up positions behind the drums, organ and guitar. The stage lights came on as John Densmore, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger entered.loverto announce the arrival of The Doors frontman Jim Morrison. He walked regally onto the stage dressed in a tight black leather suit, white shirt and brown shoes.
Brian Godding (Guitarra/Gesang, Blossom Toes): The really impressive reveal was the sound system they brought. It was light years away from what was available here. Everything very clear, acoustic amplification with JBL speakers that sounded like a giant hi-fi system. For what they were doing, quite minimalist and dramatic, it worked really well.
Ray Manzarek: We had heard a lot about you savages and we thought we were entering a primitive ecstasy hotbed and we were quite surprised... “Everyone was very reserved, very correct and very correct. But it was a great show.
arthur braun:I remember Morrison, dressed all in black leather, alone in the light and actingThe Celebration of the Lizard. It was a revolutionary way to perform for a rock artist. It was more like a prominent poet going out and reading his poetry, but with a rocking beat behind it. He didn't dance, he just writhed like a snake. It was amazing.
Ray Manzarek: Many people thought he had been electrocuted. I dropped the amp cover to fire a loud shot and people swore I was electrocuted.
Brian Godding: The Doors' music was very minimalist. Their keyboard player, Ray Manzarek, was notable because they had no bass player, so he played bass on the organ in time with their lead parts.
John Shepard: Around midnight, after we were done, the chief engineer came to me and said that we had made a mistake in the video and that it was gone all night on Friday.
Mick Houghton: My friends and I were still queuing at 2am to get in. We formed an orderly queue and waited patiently for two hours. I was more interested in seeing Jefferson Airplane, but I remember his set being pretty messed up. Everything I liked about them - the vocal harmonies,slippery graceHer perfect voice, the balance between guitar and acoustic guitar, none of that was well done live.
John Tobler (journalist): The Doors returned for their second set around 4am, when all the cameramen were home in bed. With the cameras off, the anger visibly subsided and the group played an excellent set.
Jim Morrison: The reason the second sets on both nights were so much more exciting was the presence of the TV crews on stage and in the room [for the first set of each night]. It's that voyeurism thing. It introduces an objective element that alienates people from a real community.
Joss Mullinger (Audience): Two of my friends and I went on the second night, which was Saturday. We had to sit outside forever. I took some pictures outside showing all the people waiting. Finally we climbed the rickety stairs to the door. I remember it being a huge, cavernous, barn-like space, very rudimentary, with big white sheets hanging over the stage.
John Shepard: When we [the Granada film crew] arrived at the Roundhouse, everything was sweet and light. Maybe someone spoke to Morrison, I don't know. Anyway, on Saturday night I was ready to do it right, the crew were on point and The Doors played a fantastic set.
Jim Morrison: The crowd was one of the best we've ever had. In America, they're there to be entertained, just as they're there to listen to you. But at the Roundhouse, they were there to listen. It was like going back to basics. It spurred us on. They surprised me because I expected them to be a little rambunctious, a little reserved, but they were fantastic. It was probably the most informed and receptive audience I've ever seen. I think I enjoyed The Roundhouse more than any date I've enjoyed in years.
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Johnny is a music journalist, author and archivist with forty years of experience. In the UK alone, he has written for Smash Hits, Q, Mojo, The Sunday Times, Radio Times, Classic Rock, HiFi News and more. your sitegive music(opens in new tab)is the world's largest archive of chronologically organized and fully searchable rock music facts, often supplemented by resources related to those facts. He interviewed three of the four Beatles, all for Abba, and was treated by Robert Smith of The Cure for food poisoning on a tour bus in South America.