The city of West Hollywood declared August 16, 2012 to be “The Doors Day” in a celebration that honored Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger at the House of Blues. Following a star studded red carpet, guests headed inside for a tribute to the band followed by a performance by Manzarek and Krieger, accompanied by Billy Morrison, Matt Sorum (ex-Guns n’ Roses) and special guest vocalists Mark McGrath, Emily Armstrong, Linda Perry and Franky Perez.
John Densmore, drummer for The Doors, told Billboard on the carpet prior to the ceremony that to have this day in The Door’s honor was “inflating.” He explained that The Sunset Strip was where the band grew up. “The police used to hassle us for our long hair and now we’re cool!” Densmore said that his favorite memories of playing with The Doors were not what most people would think. “It wasn’t the Hollywood Bowl or Madison Square Garden, it was the small clubs where we felt that the audience got what we’re doing.” He also mentioned that he’s in the process of working on a book which he joked would be “another self centered memoir about our struggles.”
Raw Video: “Back Door Man” With Linda Perry
Marilyn Manson showed us his “15” tattoo behind his left ear, explaining that his favorite Doors song is “Five To One.” “It was the first song that I learned how to sing. Fifteen is my magic number and I also like the duality of the statement. It’s political and sexual at the same time. It would have been the song that I wish I would have written but I didn’t.”
Billy Morrison, who performed later in the evening with Manzarek and Krieger, said he was shocked to have received a phone call asking him to perform with The Doors. “I got a phone call saying, ‘Would you like to play with The Doors?’ and I thought they got the wrong guy. No one turns that down. It’s a huge honor.”
Following the carpet, rock DJ Jim Ladd took the stage to introduce a slew of presenters. Jeffrey Prang, the mayor of West Hollywood, and several city council members kicked off the ceremony and a screen popped down to reveal a tribute video of old band footage. John Doe, of LA punk band X, shared tales of seeing The Doors live when he was a teenager. “Even though Jim Morrison didn’t move one muscle while he was singing, it was one of the most tense and compelling shows I’ve ever seen,” he joked.
Manson, who says he will be fulfilling a childhood dream by performing with Manzarek and Krieger during his Sunset Strip Music Fest set on Saturday, spoke about what an influence The Doors were on his career. “My first show in Los Angeles was at the Whiskey a Go Go. I now somehow strangely live in the circumference of where all the Door-ness happened in Los Angeles. Don’t try to come to my house. I do have a weapon,” he said (and probably meant).
Raw Video: “Break On Through” With Franky Perez
Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman reminisced on signing The Doors back in the day, telling the crowd about how he opted to go out and see cult favorites Love, fronted by Arthur Lee, perform right from the airport during a trip to LA instead of heading to bed at 2 a.m. his time. It was during this show that he discovered The Doors, who were the opening act. Following Holzman, Roxy Theater owner, Nic Adler, and Whiskey A Go Go owner Mikael Maglieri presented Manzarek and Krieger the Elmer Valentine Award. Manzarek accepted the honor with a sentimental analogy. “In primitive cultures, there’s something called the axis mundi is the center of the earth — the center of your tribe, the center of your existence around which everything swirls. So for The Doors, the Whiskey a Go Go and The Sunset Strip are the axis mundi of our lives.”
The band took the stage shortly after to a crowd of screaming fans. They opened with “Break on Through” and “Roadhouse Blues” on which they were joined by vocalist Franky Perez who did his best to channel his inner Jim Morrison. Dead Sara’s Emily Armstrong lent her raspy rock vocals to “Soul Kitchen” while Mark McGrath tackled “Light My Fire,” summoning Manzarek to leap from his chair, stick one foot one the keyboard, and step up the energy. Krieger took continuous solos throughout the show proving that all these years later, The Doors still have it. The evening closed with Linda Perry belting out “Back Door Man” and “LA Woman.”
It was a fitting tribute to such an iconic Los Angeles band.