The Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison's Legacy on Trial
Rock & roll summer reading
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., June 21, 2013
The Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison's Legacy Goes on Trialby John Densmore
Percussive Press, 296 pp., $14.95 (paper)
Ironic that, upon my finishing this engaging account of the Doors' recent legal entanglements, the book's primary protagonist and band keyboardist Ray Manzarek succumbed to cancer. A visionary musician and architect of the infamous L.A. quartet's psychedelic-jazz sound, Manzarek gets portrayed as a greedy, egotistical opportunist eager to parlay the group's music and image into financial gain. Enter drummer John Densmore, who invokes iconic frontman Jim Morrison's edict that all bandmembers have equal standing and veto power to quash, say, attempts to lease Doors' songs for commercial use or tour as "the Doors" without permission from all parties. While providing a few insights into the band's history, Unhinged scripts a courtroom drama in which Densmore and the Morrison estate sues Manzarek and guitarist Robbie Krieger, who then countersue Densmore. It's not pretty. Densmore protecting the Morrison/Doors legacy sounds a tad self-righteous at times, but he provides excellent analysis of the nature and value of art and the constant struggle of both in commerce. Those looking for a definitive band history can turn to Densmore's Riders on the Storm or Manzarek's Light My Fire.