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Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Doors Live at the Hollywood Bowl- July, 1968

The Doors' show at the Hollywood Bowl on July 5th, 1968 has been immortalized on film and I am sure that many Doors fans have seen, and thoroughly enjoyed, the footage. So this wasn't really one of those moments where it was a stretch to imagine what it might have been like for Liz and the gang to be there in the audience. All I had to do is what I did every time I watched my DVD...pretend that I was among those in the stands instead of watching from a screen.

     I was ready to go with my tape recorder and my camera in hand. I had been told by Morrison that he would leave word to let me through with both and if I was hassled about them all I had to do was give my name. I had never seen a show at The Hollywood Bowl so I wasn’t entirely certain what I should expect. I knew it was an outdoor venue. I assumed it would be no different than Monterey. I was wrong. Monterey was at a camp ground, not a football stadium. I was amazed at the size of the place and that just fueled my excitement. There was already music playing but The Doors had not come out yet. Finding our spots was a task in itself yet once we were settled in I was so hyped up that it took all I had to not scream out. When the guys finally came on stage I smiled at Jim. He was too far away to smile back. He was in his zone and at that moment nothing could have taken it away. Wearing a vest that looked like something Pam might have picked up from one of the exotic locales that she imported clothes from, a long sleeve black shirt, and his trade mark leather pants he was no longer my friend who had crashed on my couch a few days before. He was once more The Lizard King.
     His mood lightened before he finished the first tune. He sounded great, he looked great, and there seemed to be a strange combination swirling around him of amusement and something darker. He had plenty of smiles and humor to give and yet there were times when he seemed far away and almost angry. Still, the audience was laughing and singing and he seemed to feel that good vibe the more that the show went on. From burping into the microphone to pleading with the light crew to turn down the lights so he could do ‘The End’ (a request that they did not grant, most likely because of the band’s reputation…like you can’t incite a riot in the light) to reciting some of his poetry, he was the great performer through it all. And just as he said, there was a film crew there to capture the whole event. I was able to get a couple of good shots of the band and I captured the whole thing on two tapes. It was, as anyone who has seen the footage will say, one hell of a good show. Because we had made no plans to talk after the show, when it ended I prepared to leave. None of us made it as far as the end of our row before we were stopped by a really young guy with glasses. “You Liz Sanders?” The kid asked. I nodded. “Jim wants you to come with me. All of you.”
Wanna know what happened after the show? Hell, I can't leave you guys hanging....
I had to laugh at the seriousness in the cat’s tone, like he was telling me to come to the principal’s office or something. We all followed him to the backstage area where Jim was already opening up a beer and chatting with Robby Kreiger about the show. When he saw us a huge grin broke out on his face. “So what did you think?” He asked as he hugged me.
     “Well, it lacked the dramatic finish of New Haven but neither of us are in a cop car so I would say it was damned good!” I replied with a laugh.
       Taking me aside he asked, “Do you want an interview with the band? You’ve never had one with all of us.”
    “Sure.” I replied.
   “Do you guys have any plans for tonight? We’re thinking of going out after we do all the press shit here.” I told him that sounded good to me but I would have to talk to everyone else. I was rewarded with another grin. “Pam and I got into it pretty heavy before I came here. She didn’t tell me not to come back but if it turns out that way, care if I come over?”
     I had to laugh. “No, I don’t care.”
  I did get an interview with the whole band and afterwards we all hit the strip. It amazed me that these four men who had just played a huge show at one of the biggest venues in town could so easily go back to just being Jim, Ray, Robby, and John. Women trailed Jim from bar to bar, groupies that he would most likely eventually have his way with. From a payphone outside one such bar with one such woman hanging on his arm he called home to see what mood his cosmic mate was in. By the time he hung up he was all smiles. “Aw, she loves me, man. The way that she says things like, ‘You can come home but you better not smell like some fucking whore’ and ‘Sometimes I wish I had never laid eyes on you’…melts my fucking heart.” I was too drunk to hold back my laughter. He looked at the woman on his arm and said belligerently, “Looks like we need to find a backseat or something cause I gotta get home to my girl.”
    That signaled the end of the evening but it had been memorable. We were all pleasantly intoxicated and hugs were passed around before we parted. I got a particularly hard squeeze from Jim. He was nothing like the person he had been on stage. He was just my friend. The transformation was too obvious for me to be the only one to notice.
And thanks to youtube, you can also watch this magical night and pretend as I have pretended more than I care to admit that you, too, were there. 

                                                                      

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