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The Doors play Forest Hills Tennis Stadium to jeers

An aerial view of Forest Hills Tennis Stadium
An aerial view of Forest Hills Tennis Stadium
Photo by Hamilton-Maxwell 1929

Forest Hills Tennis Stadium was built in 1923 to host the U.S. Open tennis tournament. In the 1960s as America was being gripped by rock ‘n’ roll, the stadium turned to concerts to fill seats and coffers during fallow times for tennis. Forest Hills was a venue for a lot of the big name rock acts of the day. In 1964 The Beatles played there, arriving by helicopter that landed on the grass courts, Bob Dylan played there. It was natural The Doors played there August 12, 1967, and it turned out it wasn’t the best venue for The Doors.

Just a couple of weeks before the Forest Hills show “Light My Fire” had become the number selling record in the U.S. and The Doors were at the height of their musical prowess and riding the high a number one record will give a band. The Doors were opening for Simon & Garfunkle, maybe that should have been an omen, or somebody should have realized the folk rock of Simon & Garfunkle and the harder edge of The Doors weren’t compatible. When The Doors came onstage things didn’t go well right from the start, the crowd jeered the band and laughed at Morrison’s histrionics. Ray Manzarek later reported “We were in hell. That was one of the all-time lows.” Morrison later told people “I hated them (referring to the audience). I wanted to kill them.”

Maybe it was Morrison’s aloof manner that put the audience off, but Forest Hills had a reputation for a being a raucous audience. When Bob Dylan played there the audience reportedly gave him a harder time than the audience at the Newport Jazz Festival when Dylan went electric. Later a Forest Hills audience would boo Jimi Hendrix offstage.

Paul Simon, who thought The Doors were one of the better groups around and had been lobbied by Elektra Records found Jac Holzman to get The Doors to open for Simon & Garfunkle, believed in The Doors and after they left the stage Simon went out and reprimanded the audience. The Forest Hills because it was an outdoor venue, was the beginning of the belief among The Doors that their sound was diluted by outdoor venues.

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