The Doors’ Jim Morrison snagged more of the spotlight than his fellow bandmates, though keyboardist/bassist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger all played a significant hand in the compositional process of the band’s eight-year run of songwriting and performing. Formed in LA, The Doors have left behind a strong legacy of psychedelic rock and memorable stage antics thanks to the controversial attitude of Morrison himself. Let’s take a look at the band’s top five greatest hits of all time.
“People Are Strange”
At just over two minutes long, the song wails of circus-like feels and Broadway-inspired jazz hands. Morrison, as a songwriter, was best known for his poetic lyrics, though “People Are Strange” is different in that the words are of the utmost simplicity: “When you’re strange / Faces come out of the rain / When you’re a stranger / No one remembers your name.” The song was released as a single in 1967 from the band’s second studio album Strange Days.
”Light My Fire”
Coming from their debut record 51 years ago in 1966, “Light My Fire” landed at number one on the Billboard 100 for a solid three weeks. Its catchy hook inspired the likes of artists such as José Feliciano, Will Young, Stephen Bennett, and UB40, to name just a few. While the band received credit for writing the song, it was Krieger whose creative way first struck a chord in the birth of this seven-minute hit that still remains The Doors’ best-selling number yet.
Soft and ethereal are Morrison’s vocals as he croons “This is the end, beautiful friend / This is the end, my only friend, the end.” Morrison originally wrote the lyrics in a poem he wrote about his breakup with girlfriend Mary Werbelow. He is quoted as telling Rolling Stone in 1969, “Every time I hear that song, it means something else to me. It started out as a simple good-bye song… Probably just to a girl, but I see how it could be a goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don’t know.”
“Riders on the Storm”
Known as the last song Morrison recorded before his death in France in 1971, the jukebox track is said to represent a sort of biographical representation of the iconic front man’s life. While he considered himself a “rider on the storm.” Bass players Marc Benno of the Asylum Choir, and Jerry Scheff, who is best remembered for his work with Elvis Presley, are featured on the song.
The track serves as the lead single from The Doors’ sixth studio album of the same name. During the song’s bridge, Morrison famously sings “Mr. Mojo Risin” over and over as an anagram of his own name. He continues to sing the anagram faster toward the end of the song as a creative way of simulating an orgasm. In 2011, Manzarek told Uncut magazine that the song was about “driving madly down the LA freeway.” Fun fact: a copy of the lyrics sold for a whopping £13,000 in the UK in 2009.