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John Densmore wins lawsuit against The Doors of the 21st Century

Doors history isn’t all in the ancient past (the 60’s) when your grandparents were young, Jim Morrison noted ‘we’re passing through history’ and there is some Doors history of the recent past. July 21, 2005 John Densmore prevailed in his lawsuit against his former bandmates Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, winning a permanent injunction against their using The Doors name without unanimous permission of all The Doors members.

The Doors are famous for operating as a Democracy. Jim Morrison thought The Doors should share the writing credits on the songs and share the royalties equally as well. The Doors also had veto power, no business decision could be or would be enacted upon unless by unanimous agreement of all four members of The Doors. The veto power is most famously remembered when The Doors were offered $50,000 by Buick for the rights to “Light My Fire.” Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore had all agreed to the deal but when Jim Morrison returned from England after a short vacation after The Doors European tour and found out he was furious and threatened to smash a Buick onstage, Morrison’s veto prevailed and the Buick deal was dead. The Doors formalized this part of their business arrangement before Jim Morrison left for Paris in the spring of 1971 for fear that Morrison would try to constitute a European Doors.

The rift between Densmore, Manzarek and Krieger started with an appearance in 2001 of Manzarek and Krieger under the name ‘The Doors of The 21st Century.’ One of the problems was the logo had the words The Doors in much larger type than the words ‘of the 21st century,’ the second problem was the band was introduced as simply “The Doors.” When Densmore heard of this he called Robby Krieger and asked them not to use the name The Doors. In January 2003 the band appeared on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” and again was introduced only as “The Doors.” Ian Astbury of The Cult was the lead singer and he wore leather pants, a black shirt, and dark sunglasses leading to charges of being a “Jimitator.” Following this appearance Densmore filed suit against The Doors of the 21st Century, February 2, 2003.

As with any lawsuit, there are accusations, and countersuits, Jim Morrison’s family joined the lawsuit on Densmore’s behalf, and Doors fans took sides filling Doors message boards with heated debate or acrimony. Then there was an internecine falling out of The Doors of the 21st Century. Stewart Copeland (of The Police) who was sitting in on drums sued Manzarek and Krieger claiming the had used his name for publicity as well as promising him monies from a tour and a studio album. Copeland later settled his case, then Ian Astbury also threatened to sue but that was settled also.

When the permanent injunction was won by Densmore Manzarek and Krieger went on to perform as “Riders on the Storm,” and finally “The Manzarek-Krieger Band.” Manzarek-Krieger toured through 2012 and any hopes of an onstage reunion between the surviving members of The Doors ended when Ray Manzarek died of cancer May 21, 2013. Densmore released his side of the lawsuit in “The Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison’s Legacy on Trial” (see related articles below).

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