More than three decades after the Doors ankled their residency at the Whisky on the Sunset Strip, the band’s keyboardist Ray Manzarek delighted a crowd of diehard fans Wednesday with fond memories of his time in one of rock ’n’ roll’s legendary bands. Sharing anecdotes of Jim’s often reckless behavior, show antics and writing techniques, Manzarek was joined by a tribe of latter-day Sunset Strip stars (X’s John Doe, the ubiquitous Perry Farrell) and a Beat-inspired poet (Michael McClure) to rekindle some of that ’60s magic. For the most part, it worked.
The dot-com-sponsored event was promoted as a VIP extravaganza, which did not materialize. Fans didn’t seem to mind, instead cheering wildly as Doe took Morrison’s place out front and the band charged through the Doors’ last two hits “Riders on the Storm” and “Love Me Two Times.” Doors guitarist Robby Krieger leaned on blues stylings for the two numbers — his only performance during the two-hour show — and Manzarek went into free-form, full-handed piano banging as each song reached its climax.
The overzealous fans supplied group vocals as Manzarek did straightforward solo piano renditions of “The Crystal Ship” and “Moonlight Drive.” Curiously, there was no drummer for the entire night. (Doors drummer John Densmore was in Europe.)
McClure read an excerpt from his current collaboration with Manzarek, “The Third Mind,” a documentary film of live performances directed by William Tyler Smith and narrated by Peter Coyote. McClure, whose works share a spiritual connection to those of Morrison, read sans accompaniment and was well received; a later reading by Danny Sugarman, author of the Doors bio “No One Here Gets Out Alive,” was constantly interrupted by audience shouts.
Farrell, who ruled the Sunset Strip in the 1980s as lead singer of Jane’s Addiction, read excerpts from Morrison’s “The Lizard King” as Manzarek plucked at the inside of the grand piano. Doe joined Farrell, Manzarek and Krieger to deliver the archetypal Doors rocker “L.A. Woman,” which conveyed the brilliance rather than the excess that gave this L.A. band its notoriety.