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The Doors play the Alexandria Roller Rink

The Doors after the show at the Alexandria Roller Rink DJ Jack Alix is in front.
The Doors after the show at the Alexandria Roller Rink DJ Jack Alix is in front.
photo: Maryland Leader Star archive at Prince Georges County Historical Society

As part of a Navy family that had frequent reassignments Jim Morrison could claim many hometowns. One that has claimed Jim Morrison is Alexandria, Virginia where he lived from 1959 until he left for junior college in September 1961. Morrison had only been gone from Alexandria six years when The Doors played the Alexandria Roller Rink August 18, 1967.

As a high school student, Morrison’s life in Alexandria was one of the first tastes of freedom he had in his life. He lived in his parent’s basement, he came and went as he pleased, read heavily, painted, and when he was in search of adventure he would prowl the Alexandria area, his exploits in Alexandria being a virtual blueprint of interests that would last the rest of his life. Morrison visited the Library of Congress, went to coffeehouses (where he may have first read some of his poetry), developed an interest in the blues at many of Alexandria’s blues bars, visited art galleries and movie theatres to see foreign films.

In the days prior to The Doors appearance in Alexandria, The Doors had received the Billboard Award for “Light My Fire” hitting number one on Billboard’s charts, but the tour may have been putting a strain on The Doors and Morrison especially. The week before, the band had played at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium and the audience was unreceptive. Afterwards Morrison quipped that he had hated the audience so much he wanted to kill them. A few days before the August 18th appearance Morrison had given a drunken performance in Lowell, Massachusetts asking if “Jack Kerouac was around?” (see related articles below).

The night of August 18th The Doors were playing two shows at two different venues, a grueling night for any band. The first show was at the Annapolis, Maryland National Guard Armory at 7:30pm. The show seemed to go off without incident except for after the show Morrison got into an argument with the rest of the band, which was bad enough to cause them to ride in separate limos. By the time Morrison arrived in Alexandria at 10 pm, he was drunk. Despite his condition and the disagreement with the band earlier that night, the show was reportedly outstanding. Morrison pulled out all the theatrical stops, including an extended version of the newly minted gold record “Light My Fire.” It was the end of the show when the mood started to change. During “The End” Morrison threw one of drummer John Densmore’s cymbal stands into the audience gashing one girl, and when DJ and promoter Jack Alix came out on stage he tried to wrestle the microphone away from Morrison who finally threw it at him. As he was leaving the stage Morrison yelled out to the audience “Hey Alexandria” and flipped them off.

Sources: “Jim Morrison’s Not So Happy Homecoming” by Mark Jones, and “The Lizard King Was Here” by Mark Opsanick.

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