This interview does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The Doors Collectors Magazine.
Sara: After reading your book I got the impression that Jim was getting bored with being a rock star. What was your impression?
Doug: Endless amounts of adulation, booze, instant gratification and women (very pretty women) actually do become redundant. I think by March of '69 Jim was exhausted. After March 1, 1969, life was a struggle for Jim.
Sara: Jim seemed to be getting drunk more often during this period of time. It is a known fact that he was suffering from alcoholism. In your opinion what could have contributed to the rise in Jim's drinking habits?
Doug: According to many poets, the road to enlightenment was through excess. Jim wanted the whole world...NOW! He was a glutton. Jim seemed bored with the trappings of rock stardom which led to self medicating as a way of numbing himself.
Sara: In your opinion, what do you think led up to the infamous Miami concert? In other words, what were the circumstances leading up to the event?
Sara: Vince Treanor was an excellent road manager who was very skillful with sound equipment. After his career with the Doors ended, why, in your opinion was he not employed with another band?
Doug: Vince's treatment at the hand of Bill Siddons was scurrilous. On a larger scale, however, I blame the Doors for not giving Vince a much larger separation package. Actually, as far as I know, there was NO separation package. The Doors had millions. Come on. This particular incident has led me over the years to conclude that the Doors are very, very TIGHT!
Sara: You talk about the Doors' sound system in your book, particularly the use of Acoustic amps as well as Altec Lansing 15" speakers along with a Monolith System. Some of the amps weighed up to 240 pounds each. I am under the impression that there were only two people who moved the gear from gig to gig, you and Vince. I am aware of the fact that many auditoriums offered Union scaled workers to help load, unload and set up concerts. Did the Doors employ any of these Union workers to help set up or tear down their equipment?
Doug: I never saw any Union people at all. Maybe there would be a few extra people hired by the promoter but usually not.
Sara: In regards to the moving of equipment you mention the fact that Vince would try his best to move the equipment via commercial airline "excess" baggage as a way to save money in lieu of shipping via air freight or ground transportation. Vince would slip airline personnel money to take the equipment and place it on board. This equipment would have been among the passenger bags, mail and cargo already scheduled for that particular flight. It amazes me that Vince was able to move at least one dozen amps that weighed 240 a piece plus other equipment in this way because a basic model 737 only holds so much weight, and the load has to be offset so the plane is level. Could it have been that the Doors chartered these flights instead of paying off airline workers to sneak the equipment on?
Doug: No way. They never chartered any flights. Upon arrival at the airport Vince would "tip" the sky caps into securing the band's equipment into the cargo hold of the plane. In this way the band would not have to pay freight charges.
Sara: You mentioned that the two Doors' shows in Chicago were different, June 14 1969. The first one wasn't up to par but the second one 'cooked.' Was there a sound check prior to the show or was the first gig kind of a warming up process that afforded the second gig to go off without any hitches?
Doug: Yes, there was a sound check on June 14, 1969, and my friend Phil Kresler saved the day. One of the keys on Ray's Gibson Kalamazoo organ was sticking up about 1" above the others, and Phil fixed it with a small screwdriver. Other than that, I don't remember anything about the sound check except that it was Jim's first time to use the new Monolith system that Vince had built (and designed). I couldn't tell by the look on Jim's face, but he was apparently absolutely blown away by the 5,000 watts of power. Also, by now, the Doors were using the new Austrian AKG microphones. The Electrovoice 676 mics had fallen into disfavor.
Sara: On June 16 1969, you flew to Los Angeles and entered the Doors Workshop on Santa Monica Blvd. Great description of the place, by the way. It really gives you a feeling for what the place looked and smelled like at the time you were there. You mention the two secretaries in the Doors' office. Did you come in contact with Danny Sugerman at this time? The reason I ask is he was only a few years younger than yourself so I'm speculating that the two of you could relate to subjects concerning your age group.
Doug: I never saw Danny Sugerman at any time during the summer of 1969.
Sara: You mention that while in Vince Treanor's apartment where you resided during your tenure with the Doors, you came across a letter written to Jim Morrison shortly after the Miami concert from a Dalton Clarke. (Jim's mother's maiden name was Clarke). You go on to say that you did not know how Vince would have this letter in his possession, but your theory of Jim having thrown the letter away could have been the cause. In consideration of the letter Jim received from Dalton Clarke brings me to the next question. You mention that Jim wrote a song called "Land Ho" in memory of his sea faring grandfather. In your opinion do you think the writing of Land Ho had anything to with this letter that Jim received?
Doug: I've never drawn the connection between "Land Ho" and the letter from Dalton Clarke to Jim. It is reasonable to conclude that Jim loved his grandfather. The letter could have been a springboard.
Sara: You mention that Jim was not with the other band members except during concerts. Was he not present at most rehearsals that you witnessed--collaborating on songs together with the other members?
Doug: Jim was not necessarily at band practices. Sometimes he would disappear for a week.
Sara: It seemed Robby controlled which songs were played in concert. As you mentioned, one band member would start one song, and then Robby would start another and Robby won out. Was there no agreed-upon set list prior to the performance? How did audiences react to this sort of unprofessionalism, or did they even notice what was happening?
Doug: Robby didn't particularly "control" all of the songs. The group would come to a consensus, that's all. Frequently Robby and his guitar won out. Robby's guitar is a lot louder than his mouth. I don't think audiences minded the arguing. Usually they were just tripped out to see the Doors in the first place. At the more rare concerts like the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami on March 1, 1969, audiences were disappointed. The Doors could sound great at one concert and horrible the next. Sometimes Jim would just hang on the microphone stand because he was absolutely demolished. He was being crucified by his own mind.
Sara: You went to Mexico with the band. Was this your first trip outside the U.S.?
Doug: No. I'd been to Canada a couple of times previously.
Sara: You got to go for a late night swim in the hotel swimming pool with Morrison one night. I'm under the impression that as long as you did not bring up the band to Jim he was more friendly towards you. Your conversation during this brief time was like no other conversations prior to that: you both were swimmers on teams in high school, and you both had a passion for literature. I was intriged that you asked Jim what he was going to do when the Doors were finished as a band. Jim's answer was he was going to open a nightclub and call it "The Albatross." What do you think Jim meant by using the word "Albatross"?
Doug: First off, Jim was the ultimate existentialist. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk about the band so much as he didn't want to talk about ANYTHING in the past. The albatross reference (and the image of the dead albatross hanging around one's neck) was a metaphor for Jim's freedom. But he wasn't free because he had an albatross called the Doors hanging around his neck.
Sara: Vince got you into an uncomfortable situation, or should I say situations during your brief employment with the Doors as a roadie. After reading your book, I can certainly understand why you quit your job without prior notice as any young man, I would hope, would have done. Over and above the uncomfortable situations you found yourself in with Vince Treanor, you explain Vince's actions towards you as a man as his trying to be somewhat of a father figure. Nowadays I would suspect the term would be "control freak." From the many references I have read in regards to the Doors, Jim rebelled against anyone who tried to tell him what to do, even Ray Manzarek who was older. Did Vince try to be a father figure to Jim Morrison? And if so, did you witness any dissatisfaction on Jim's part?
Doug: Actually, thinking back, Jim probably felt closer to Vince than anyone else in the band. Jim would listen to Vince's admonitions for quite a long time, but ultimately would not follow through on Vince's or anyone else's recommendations because of the alcohol.
Sara: You mention the fact that up until the Mexico gig, other than transportation expenses, you were never paid for your services as a roadie. In fact, if it was not for Bill Belmont, Manager of Country Joe and the Fish you would have remained in an airport in Mexico City without a visa and no means to get back to the States. Through the generosity of Belmont he set you up with a few dollars to hold you over until you could fly back to the mid-west. Were you ever paid any wages for your services while employed with the Doors?
Doug: Not one dime. My first paycheck of $120 was waiting for me at Bob Greene's office (the accountant), but I was already on my way back to Indiana. Looking back on this moment, I can recall that the cost of my one-way airline ticket from Mexico City to Los Angeles was deducted from my first paycheck which left nothing in compensation for the work I had done.
Sara: You were invited to Cherokee Studios to hear a rough cut of what was to become "An American Prayer." Would you care to elaborate on this experience?
Doug: First off, I did attend a couple of Doors' sessions at Cherokee Records while "American Prayer" was being put together. Then I was invited by Ray to attend the premiere.
Sara: You mentioned that Ray overdubbed his parts for "Alive She Cried" due to the mistakes he made during the live performances. To your knowledge, did any of the other members do the same?
Doug: Could be, but I have no idea.
Sara: John Densmore mentions in his book, "Riders On The Storm" that he had a falling out with Ray Manzarek after his book was published due to a specific paragraph relating to the fact that Jim Morrison wanted to quit the band in mid-1968. Robby Krieger has also mentioned in several interviews that this is the reason why Ray and John parted ways. Unfortunately, Robby doesn't explain why he and John do not seem to be the friends that they once were. In your book you mention a conversation with Ray Manzarek in 1995 and specifically ask him what happened during John's last birthday party that caused a riff between the two musicians. The answer you received was Ray Manzarek changing his phone number. Why do you think Manzarek did not answer your question?
Doug: Because, and I am only guessing, it was a very acidic contention that Ray made about John and Jim in Ray's book "Light My Fire"--that Jim had talked to Ray about wanting John out of the group.
Sara: In your opinion do you think it would have made any difference in Doors' history if Jim quit the band in 1968?
Doug: "Soft Parade," "Morrison Hotel," and "LA Woman" wouldn't have happened, but Jim might still be alive. I wish he was, but there were lessons he never learned. One of the lessons was subtlety; another was moderation.
Sara: You are one of the privileged few who have spoken to the Courson family as they are very private people who have endured a lot of pain over the years. First, in the loss of their daughter, and then the pressures of dealing with the many offers that have been proposed over the years in use of Doors' music. In your book, you mention that the Coursons have no love for Ray Manzarek. As a parent, I can certainly understand their feelings. The Coursons mention that Jim Morrison tried to strangle Ray during a car ride in New York City. John and Robby had to pull Jim off of him. Do you know when this incident happened and/or why this happened? I am asking this question only to clarify the many stories that have been passed around over the years that say Ray and Jim were best friends throughout the band's history. Ray Manzarek himself maintains the same story to this day.
All I know was that it happened in New York and had to do with who wanted what. Obviously, a power struggle.
Sara: On page 104 you included a series of answers to questions that you posed to Vince Treanor. What is your opinion of the answers Vince gave you? Specifically, Vince mentions that Jim Morrison was going to start a new band and wanted you to play keyboards. Why would Vince say such a thing?
Doug: I was very pleased with his answers. Vince has strong opinions and has no fear expressing them. I learned a lot about the Doors from Vince. It was Vince that told me about Jim's asthma. And about how Paul Rothchild got Jim into cocaine starting with "Morrison Hotel."
Sara: The next question I have deals with the change in musical styles for the last Doors albums. Vince mentions in his answers to you that it was Ray Manzarek that talked Jim into blues music and subsequently this is the type of music that dominated the Doors' last two albums. He goes on to say that it was Ray's choice of selections for the Doors' two post-Morrison albums that became a factor as to why the Doors ended so abruptly in 1973. Would you care to elaborate on this?
Doug: I like the quicker Chicago style blues, and my favorite blues man is John Lee Hooker. Generally, however, blues brings me down. When the Doors played stuff like "Little Red Rooster," I didn't like it at all. I liked the earlier music, like the second album, and tunes like "Spanish Caravan." But who asked me back then?
Sara: I enjoyed your book very much as it gives another side to the Doors' story that has never been told in any other autobiography. Looking back on your book is there anything you wanted to include in your book but did not?
Doug: Actually, as time goes on I'm more and more pleased with my book. It has received a great deal of praise from all quarters, and there were even several nickels that like it.
Sara: To hear more about Doug's Doors stories, please check out his book! It is recommended 100%! Push the button!
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