When The Doors were planning what to do for the Hollywood Bowl show in 1968 Ray Manzarek floated out the idea of coming out in Kabuki masks and Japanese robes. Alternatively, Jim Morrison, who was already showing the disillusionment of being a rock star, said “just give me my microphone, and do whatever you want to do.” Maybe, if Morrison had been more receptive to the idea and The Doors had gone through with it, the costumes would have distracted them from giving one of the best concerts of their career, and it was filmed.
The Doors played the Hollywood Bowl on July 5, 1968 and shows them at the height of their musical prowess and their career. The summer before “Light My Fire” had made The Doors a nationally known act when it hit number one on Billboard’s charts. Later in July of 1968 “Hello, I Love You” would do the same. The Hollywood Bowl show was to be a celebration of The Doors and it was a hometown audience for the band, as well as the prestige of playing at the Hollywood Bowl.
Before the show Jim Morrison had met with Mick Jagger at Morrison’s room at the Alta Cineaga motel. The Doors later had dinner with Jagger and Keith Richards, both of whom attended the Hollywood Bowl show with Pam reportedly sitting on Jagger’s lap during the show. That spring The Doors had started filming the shows that would become “Feast of Friends” so they decided to film the Hollywood Bowl show. If all that wasn’t enough pressure, Morrison took a hit of acid before going onstage.
The film of The Doors at the Hollywood Bowl reveals the stark theatre of The Doors, Morrison prowling the stage, the rat-a-tat-tat of John Densmore’s drums, Manzarek’s apparent joy as he played, and Doors guitarist Robby Krieger wandering the stage like a lost troubadour. The Hollywood Bowl was an atypical Doors show in a couple of ways, one, they rehearsed prior to the show, and the second was The Doors had a setlist for the show and stuck to it! Something they rarely did. The deconstruction of “Celebration of the Lizard” that had poetic segues into the more traditional songs such as “Light My Fire” created a jarring, disconcerting and theatrical effect. Morrison demonstrates his command of an audience, highlighted during “The End” when he goofs on a grasshopper he sees onstage and creates the impromtu “Ode to a Grasshopper.” When he realizes it’s a moth says “uh-oh, I blew it, it’s a moth” and gets a laugh, but he pulls everyone back into the tension and drama of the song.
In 2010 The Doors released a remastered and restored DVD and a CD titled “Live at the Bowl 68”.
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