On June 22, 1967, The Doors made their US television debut on American Bandstand, performing the bewitching fan favorite Crystal Ship along with a song that would hit the No. 1 spot a month later, the meditative classic Light My Fire.
Guitarist Robby Krieger remembers thinking that the Bandstand booking was a clear signal that the LA-based band was on its way to the big time, but he also recalls having mixed feelings about the show. "We were saying, ‘God, are we selling out here?’" he says with a chuckle. "It was such a teeny-bopper show, you know? But it was also one of the only shows, and that was a problem. When there’s just three channels, you gotta do your best to get on there. There wasn’t too much to pick from back then."
In hindsight, he admits that "it went OK, all things considered. And it was fun to hang out with Dick Clark and to see how he ran everything.”
Both Bandstand performances are featured on the new Blu-ray and DVD collection, R-Evolution (due out on January 21st and available for pre-order at this link), which also includes early TV appearances on shows such as Malibu U, Shebang, Murray The K in New York and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, among others, along with previously unreleased and rare footage. In addition, there is a 45-minute documentary called The Doors – Breaking Through The Lens, in which bandmates Krieger, John Densmore and the late Ray Manzarek reflect on the group's TV and celluloid efforts. A particularly interesting curio is Love Thy Neighbor, a never-before-seen Ford training film for which The Doors supplied the music in 1966.
Krieger sat down with MusicRadar recently to talk about the band's cinematic journey, cool clothes and bad haircuts, and the first time he heard Jimi Hendrix.
Let’s be honest: Bands in the ‘60s not only wore the best clothes, they took the best photos. Don’t you agree?
[Laughs] “Well, I think so. Yeah, I wish I still had some of those clothes. I don’t know what happened to them all. It was pretty cool stuff. We kind of liked the way the English bands looked – Them, The Animals. We weren’t so much into the whole ‘flower power’ thing. I didn’t like the San Francisco look, although I guess we did dabble in it. We did what we wanted; we didn’t have anybody at the label telling us what to wear.
“Ray was very fashion conscious. He was getting stuff at Armani and places like that, especially once we got some money. I remember Jim [Morrison] had a leather welder’s jacket he liked to wear – that was his favorite. He sewed a lizard on the back of it. I wish I had some pictures of that.”
Outside of The Beatles and the Stones, not many bands were making promotional films for their songs in 1967. Did you take any aesthetic cues from what they were doing?
“I don’t know if we were really looking at what other people were doing, really; we just kind of did our own thing. The first film we did was for Break On Through. It was very simple, just a few lights. I liked making that one, even though I wasn’t in it until the very last second.
“Break On Through was actually Elektra’s idea. They had a guy there, Peter Abramson, who was a film guy. Even though Jim and Ray had gone to film school, they were too into the music to think about videos.”