The Doors’ Jim Morrison Gets the Setlist Wrong – Real-Life ‘Spinal Tap’ Stories
One of the reasons why ‘This is Spinal Tap’ continues to resonate is because it’s not only heavy metal groups on the downside of their career that experience real-life ‘Spinal Tap’ stories, but also bands that are trying to make a name for themselves on the road to classic rock immortality. Years before the brain trust behind the movie even came up with the concept, the Doors had a moment that could found its way into the [improvised] script.
As we continue our celebration of the mockumentary’s 30th anniversary, we spoke with guitarist Robby Krieger, who relayed a tale from before his band became famous. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it involves Jim Morrison and drugs.
“The only time Jim didn’t show up for a show was when we were playing at the Whisky and at that time, we were the house band,” Krieger tells us. “The time came for the show and [there was] no Jim. And he was always [there] — he would never do that. That’s what he lived for was to get up onstage. So we said, ‘Goddamn, where is he?’ I sent Ray [Manzarek] and John [Densmore], [they] went down to the place where he was staying, at the Tropicana Motel, which is where a lot of the bands stayed in those days. There he was in his room and he had taken too much acid and he was kind of hiding under the bed. [Laughs]”
Given the mythology that surrounds the Doors, the idea of a tripping Morrison hiding under a bed might not seem so out of the ordinary. But it was what happened next — and the consequences — that possibly could have sunk the band’s fortunes before they had even begun.
“So they dragged him out and put him in the shower and got him back for the next set,” he continued. “We said, ‘What do you want to do, what do you want to start with?’ and he goes, “’‘The End.’’” “‘The End?’ That usually closes the show — why do you want to do that?” “Well, we gotta do it.” So that was the first time that he did the Oedipal part of ‘The End’ where the guy walks down the hall and people were kind of amazed. Even we were amazed. We didn’t know what to think about that. And that was the night that we got fired from the Whisky! [Laughs] The owner was Catholic and he didn’t like the idea of wanting to kill your father and f— your mother.”
Subscribe to Q103 on