The Doors' John Densmore: "I'm Trying To Uphold What Jim Wanted"
It's probably a good idea to avoid people who quote Doors lyrics in everyday conversation -- unless, of course, it's John Densmore, timekeeper for the legendary group. He earned that right, having to live with those words and Jim Morrison's predilection for acting them out onstage and in real life. That part of the equation was handily covered in his first book, Riders on the Storm, a New York Times bestseller.
In his new book, The Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison's Legacy Goes on Trial, Densmore tells of the many times he's had to put on a suit and appear before a judge to ensure "Love Me Two Times" wasn't used for a Viagra commercial. Okay, that offer wasn't a real one, but $15 million offered for use of "Break on Through" in a Cadillac commercial was. The reason Densmore turned it down is the reason you're sick of Led Zeppelin now.
"There was one commercial in England only -- for Prestone Tires for 'Riders on the Storm' -- I signed off on," says Densmore. "I came to my senses and gave all the money to charity. If we needed the dough, if we were struggling to pay the rent like a new band, that's a different thing. I get that. But since we all happen to have four equal parts, and we all happen to have a nice house and some groovy cars, I'm trying to uphold what Jim wanted."
Ironically, the four-equal-votes-democracy that Densmore calls "the foundation of the band" stemmed from Morrison's insecurity.
"Jim felt insecure about writing songs. He knew nothing about playing a chord on any instrument. He had words and he had melodies. So he said, 'Why don't we write everything together, split all the money, and give all the credit to The Doors instead of me as the lyricist. And why don't we have veto power in case anybody gets weird.' And I turned into Mr. Veto."
The book also covers the legal skirmish when the other surviving Doors chose to tour as The Doors, with Stewart Copeland on drums and The Cult's Ian Astbury as resident Lizard King, while using Morrison's likeness on posters. Densmore joined the Morrison estate on that fight.
"I saw them. Ian Astbury's a good singer. They're great musicians. I didn't want them to stop playing. But the Police without Sting? You know what I'm saying."