Random Obscurities: Rejection of The Doors First Demo

31 August 2015 by

One day, fifty years ago, in the offices of ABC Dunhill Records, a demo by a group of young upstarts is being tested.

Needle meets vinyl. Bits of music are heard. Songs with titles such as ‘Hello, I Love You’, ‘Moonlight Drive’, ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’, ‘Insane’, and ‘End of the Night’, swirl around the room.

“Nothing here I can use”, says Lou Adler – the hipper than hip, executive producer of The Mamas and The Papas, Barry McQuire, and later, Monterey Pop Festival – after listening to only 20 seconds of each track.

Across the table from him sits a young Jim Morrison, in the company of his UCLA school buddy Ray Manzarek, listening to the man in rage.

Prior to this meeting, on September 2nd 1965, Jim and Ray (in the company of the latter’s two brothers, and one John Densmore) had entered Ocean Pacific Studios on Third Street, Downtown Los Angeles, and recorded six songs, that they had been working on since a fateful meeting on Venice Beach, on which occasion Jim Morrison had serenaded Ray to one of the many songs that he had been working on all summer – the song was ‘Moonlight Drive’.

Now, with six pieces of music nicely put down on acetate, the group was ready to knock on the doors of every record label in town, with Lou and ABC Dunhill, sitting on top of their list.

Jim (understandably) wasn’t happy with the rejection: “That’s okay, man. We don’t want to be used, anyway”, he snapped back at the famous record producer, before leaving the premises.

It would take them another year of hard work – including a couple of hundred shows – before Jack Holzman, head of Electra Records, finally saw the glorious, flash of genius, that we all have come to know and love, as The Doors.

Most of these songs from their first demo, was later re-recorded for the their studio albums, risin’ to fame and worldwide, critical acclaim.

Lou Adler, however, still wasn’t impressed – and The Doors never played Monterey Pop Festival.

You be the judge!

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Words: Anders Knudsen

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