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Connections The Doors and Spinal Tap?

It’s been said a true Doors fan can see The Doors’ influence in just about any aspect of life, from Jim Morrison being the father of punk rock, to the L.A. Woman workout center, or in playing parlor games like ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ in which people try to trace back their connection to Kevin Bacon in six people or less (based on the theory that everyone in the world is connected to anyone else in the world by only six people). However, if you look hard enough anywhere you can find those connections, even in the rock ‘n’ roll world, including The Doors and Spinal Tap.

Spinal Tap is, of course, the fictional rock band satirized in Rob Reiner’s 1984 mockumentary film “This is Spinal Tap” about a band that is oblivious to their shortcomings and foibles, but has some how managed to make it. There are no obvious Doors references in the film. So what is the connection between The Doors and Spinal Tap? It’s a backstage connection. Director Rob Reiner (also the son of comedy legend Carl Reiner, and the butt of Archie Bunker’s prejudices in “All in the Family”) attended UCLA, in the theater department at the same time Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison were in the film department, and he evidently knew them well enough to talk to Ray Manzarek backstage after a concert.

While being interviewed on Sound Opinions by Chicago rock critics Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot talking about the 30th anniversary of “This is Spinal Tap” (March 2, 1984) last week with Reiner, they asked about Reiner childhood and growing up with rock ‘n’ roll. Reiner mentions knowing Morrison and Manzarek (see the video above, from the 3:26-4:13 minute mark). Reiner mentions that he knew Morrison and Manzarek in the ’pre-Doors’ days’ as well as after they became big. Reiner mentions that at UCLA he said Jim Morrison wanted to be an actor. In an anecdote about The Doors playing a concert, he mentions seeing a show where Jim just wanders off the stage and the rest of the band finished off the set, after which Reiner talked with Manzarek who said about Morrison’s behavior “yeah, you know we finish the set a lot without Jim these days.”

Another famous UCLA alumni that remembered Manzarek and Morrison from UCLA was Francis Ford Coppola (see related articles below) who of course used The Doors “The End” in “Apocalypse Now.”

If you live in Chicago, the suburbs, or will be in the city this Tuesday (July 29) Sound Opinions will be sponsoring a screening of “This is Spinal Tap” in Millennium Park at 6:30 pm.

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