Just like the Doors song, these are some “Strange Days” for the feuding survivors of the 1960s rock band, who are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their first album while waging a protracted legal battle.
Drummer John Densmore, guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek will temporarily bury the hatchet Wednesday. They have agreed to promote jointly a new book and CD boxed set during separate appearances at three locations on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, their old stomping grounds.
Densmore, who successfully sued Manzarek and Krieger to stop them touring as The Doors of the 21st Century, will be at a book store on one side of the street, his estranged colleagues at clubs on the other side.
If they agree on one thing, it’s that it is a coincidence they aren’t scheduled to appear together. Still, it does seem a metaphor for the split in a band that along with charismatic late singer Jim Morrison embraced the peace and love ethos of the ’60s
Densmore, 61, and Manzarek, 67, said in separate interviews that they do not communicate with each other. (A publicist declined to make Krieger, 60, available.)
“These things happen in a rock ’n’ roll band. If you stay together long enough in a rock ’n’ roll band, something will go wrong,” said Manzarek, who lives the life of a country gentleman in the Napa Valley, near San Francisco.
Densmore said there’s no bad blood at his end, “... but yeah, on his ...”
He was referring to an appeal filed by Manzarek, along with Krieger, of last year’s Los Angeles court decision that ordered the pair not only to stop touring as the Doors of the 21st Centur y— they now call themselves Riders of the Storm, after another Doors song — but to turn over all touring profits to the original Doors partnership.
The partnership includes the three survivors, as well as the estates of Morrison and his common-law wife Pamela Courson, who died in 1971 and 1974, respectively.
“Time is an incredible healer,” Densmore said. “The stupid appeal should wind up in a year or so.”
Close the DoorsDensmore said he only wanted to ensure the sanctity of the Doors name. He did not want it to be associated with an oldies act playing county fairs. He also wields his veto to block lucrative deals to license Doors songs, such as “Break On Through,” for TV commercials.
He wouldn’t mind getting a settlement check from the other two, just so that he can pay his legal bills.
Manzarek declined to discuss the litigation in detail, but said the democratic arrangement of the Doors partnership, instituted at Morrison’s behest in their early days, benefits Densmore in other ways. All songwriting royalties are split evenly four ways, and Densmore was a non-songwriter.
“That’s the way it is, man,” Manzarek said.
Densmore describes himself as “an ensemble guy” who allowed Morrison to shine during his poetic ramblings on such songs as ”The End,” Five to One” and “When the Music’s Over.”
To be sure, the infighting in the Doors does not exactly rival the festering hostility within the Beatles organization or the Beach Boys. And the fans don’t seem to mind. A spokeswoman said the Doors sell between 1 million and 2 million albums worldwide annually, and cumulative sales approach 90 million units.
The new boxed set, “Perception,” due in stores Nov. 21, boasts six CDs and six DVDs. Among the previously unreleased gems is video footage of the Doors recording their cover of bluesman John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake” in 1971.
The newly released book, “The Doors by the Doors,” features a “Rashomon” view of the band, both from its members, and from outsiders. Morrison’s father, retired U.S. Navy Adm. George Morrison, who joined Densmore in his lawsuit, even breaks his lifelong silence to contribute some musings about his son.