The Doors, no matter what appendage is used on the rock band’s name, have been shut.
Los Angeles Superior Court judge Gregory Alarcon ruled Thursday that Doors founders Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger may not continue to use the name Doors of the 21st Century or any other name that includes the word Doors and must give former Doors drummer John Densmore one-third of all profits earned by the Doors since January 2003.
In October 2004, Manzarek and Krieger were found liable for breaching the Doors’ written 1971 agreement and fiduciary duty while Densmore was found liable for breach of fiduciary duty. Lawyers were both allowed to submit their interpretations of the jury’s rulings, which resulted in the court decision.
Alarcon also confirmed that the parents of Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson are partners of the Doors partnership and that the Doors partnership is governed by unanimous consent of all the partners. Few bands have had such a clear agreement over the rights to a band name. In the 1970s, for example, the Byrds reunited to establish membership in the group; many 1950s groups, including the Drifters and the Coasters, have been forced to go to court to determine ownership of a name.
In 2003, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory W. Alarcon denied a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by the drummer, who had asked for a restraining order to block Manzarek and Krieger from using the name. Densmore had given permission to Krieger and Manzarek to call themselves the Doors for two concerts celebrating Harley Davidson’s 100th anni in September 2002 but nothing beyond that. After he filed suit, Manzarek and Krieger countersued Densmore, stating that he had blocked sync license opportunities for Doors’ songs, specifically in commercials for Cadillac and Apple. The counter suit was rejected.
Manzarek and Krieger had hired singer Ian Astbury to replace the late Jim Morrison and former Police drummer Stewart Copeland to take Densmore’s place. After perfs at the Harley concerts and the “Tonight Show,” Copleand was replaced by Ty Dennis of Krieger’s band. Angelo Barbera was hired to play bass.
Densmore testified that when the band decided to tour, Krieger OK’d his request that the Doors logo not be used and that words in the title distinguished the act from the original Doors. A newspaper ad for a perf at Universal Amphitheatre featured the old Doors logo and no indication that it was not the original lineup, which prompted Densmore to file suit three days before the Feb. 7, 2003 concert
“As I said from the very beginning, Ray and Robby are great musicians, and I never wanted to stop them from performing,” Densmore said after the decision. “I just never believed they had the right to call themselves the Doors or the Doors of the 21st Century.”
The Doors of the 21st Century were scheduled to perform this week in Canada and had eight gigs slated for August, including shows in Las Vegas and the Antelope Valley Fair in Lancaster. Band had issued a DVD, “L.A. Woman Live” but no other recordings.