Riders on the Storm

As a member of the late-1960’s rock band the Doors, John Densmore is able to tell the story of the band’s success and Jim Morrison’s disintegration from a unique perspective—as Densmore puts it, “from the drum stool.” The Doors were unusual among the bands that emerged during the late 1960’s; their music explored the dark corners of the psyche, somehow achieving commercial success while expressing a gloomy alienation. Central to both the success and the moody darkness was singer and songwriter Jim Morrison. Morrison was a compelling presence, yet his self-destructive nature (particularly his alcoholism) constantly threatened to destroy his personal relationships and the band’s career.

Densmore begins his narrative with a visit to Morrison’s grave in Paris in 1975, then writes of the moment in 1971 when he first heard of Morrison’s death. He then begins to skip back and forth in time, first telling of his own life before the Doors, then alternating between his years with the band and his life since the Doors disbanded. Therefore, two stories are interwoven—the Morrison story and the Densmore story—one of them outrageous, the other, by comparison, downright ordinary.

Densmore writes, in one of the many passages “spoken” to the dead Morrison, “For thirteen years I’ve been trying to crawl out from under your—our—shadow.” The statement typifies the odd situation in which Densmore finds himself as...

(The entire section is 419 words.)