portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Monday, July 30, 2018

Interestingly (says you!- ED) The Doors version of 'Light My Fire' was not the first time I heard this song! My brother, Steve, liked Jose Feliciano and had bought an album with his cover version on it and it was a minor hit over here before we heard the real thing. 

I discovered the Doors as I have said before either through my dear old school pals Mike Bristow - from Portland Oregon who was over here on a short time spell at my school as his doctor father was doing some work in the UK or and I say or Alan Bateman who introduced me to a wide range of West Coast Americana like Country Joe and The Fish, Love's 'Forever Changes' and more besides. One of them and I have tried checking always assuming it was Mike who compelled me to got the see The Doors at the Roundhouse in what I thought was 1968 but was really 1969 and life was never the same again. Now Mike who had definitely introduced me to Frank Zappa, Clear Light amongst others and he assures me it wasn't him who convinced me to play hooky from school that day to see them so there is really only Alan who was the brother of someone who went to school with me then, his younger brother Keith, and he was a grammar school boy who's bright intelligence drove him to research American music of the sixties. I have photos of the area around the Round House and head shops along Portobello road of the period but that is my only proof . . . . . . I still have my vinyl copy of the first album along with most others and a copy of the single too. I still have many vinyl bootlegs also and was once offered a considerable amount of money for one of them from a woman in LA who had a Stingray car who's number plate was 'L.A. Woman' she said and she considered that Jim was very much still alive . . . . . I stopped corresponding with quite of few of these folks around about then . . . . . .

On this day in music history: July 29, 1967 - “Light My Fire” by The Doors hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Robby Krieger, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison, it is the biggest hit for the L.A. based rock band. Composed mainly by guitarist Robby Krieger, it is credited to the entire band when he brings the unfinished song into the studio (in August of 1966 at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA), for the other band members to expand upon. The nearly seven minute long track is edited down to under three minutes for single release when it receives heavy airplay as an LP cut. The edited mono single version also presents the song at its originally recorded speed. The more commonly heard stereo LP version was mixed at a slightly slower speed due to an error made during the mixing process. Released as the second single from the bands self-titled debut album in May of 1967, it quickly becomes a radio staple. Entering the Hot 100 at #93 on June 3, 1967, it reaches the top of the chart eight weeks later. Shortly after The Doors top the chart, they are invited to perform their number one hit on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 17, 1967. The censors at CBS ask the band to change the lyric “girl we couldn’t get much higher”, to “girl, we couldn’t get much better”, feeling that the original lyric is a drug reference. Jim Morrison initially agrees, then sings the original line anyway during the live broadcast. The move infuriates host Ed Sullivan, leading him to permanently banning The Doors from the top rated variety show. Only a year after the original version “Light My Fire” tops the chart, it becomes a major hit again, when it is covered by musician Jose Feliciano. His version peaks at #3 on the Hot 100 in August of 1968. The song is recorded numerous times over the years by several artists including Shirley Bassey, The Four Tops, Johnny Mathis, Nancy Sinatra, Stanley Turrentine, Al Green, Minnie Riperton, and Amii Stewart to name a few. The jazz/R&B duo Young-Holt Unlimited (“Soulful Strut”) record an instrumental version in 1969, which is widely sampled in later years, most notably as the basis of Above The Law’s hit “Untouchable” in 1990. The Doors’ original recording is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998. “Light My Fire” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

thanks as ever to Jeff Harris at his wondrous Behind The Grooves

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