Who was there before The Doors in terms of inspiring them, or sounding similar?

I saw on the rock timeline website, there was the inception of rock music, but what I see is a lot of artists making more of happy / upbeat music, unlike The Doors.

Maybe they were more influenced by blues and just played rock. Who would be the spiritual predecessor of The Doors?

2 Answers 2


Densmore told Billboard:

What were the influences that shaped the Doors' sound and what does each member of the band bring to the table?

John Densmore: Ray grew up in Chicago so he had the blues, Muddy Waters and all that. He also had classical training. That was pretty cool. That was invoked in the intro to "Light My Fire," which was very kind of Bach-like. Robby had a flamenco and folk music background. I was so enamored with watching Robby's fingers crawl across the flamenco guitar strings like a crab.

I'm a jazz guy and Ray was also into jazz, so when we met we talked about [John] Coltrane and Miles [Davis]. I think that influence gave me freedom. Like in "When the Music's Over," I just stopped playing the beat, and I would just comment on Jim's words percussively, out of rhythm, like we were having a conversation. I got that from listening to Elvin Jones and John Coltrane.

And then there was Jim, Mr. Literary, who had read every book on the planet, but didn't know anything about music and how to write songs and trusted us. Therefore, we were a total democracy.

We shared everything—writing credits, veto power. Jim had melodies as well as words. He didn't know how to play a chord on any instrument, but he had melodies in his head. To remember the lyrics he would think of melodies and then they would stay in his head. He had melodies and lyrics in his head, and he would sing them a cappella, and we would eke out the arrangements.

With regards to the source, the intro to the article states:

The interview is from Billboard's November 4, 2006 issue and was conducted on the occasion of Ben Fong-Tores' oral history "The Doors by the Doors" (Hyperion) as well as the release of six-CD box set "Perception" (Rhino).

  • Thanks for the great answer! As original as this sounds, there must be a band or two that were somewhere between blues music and what The Doors played, if we could add a few, that would be fantastic.
    – hakunin
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 13:21
  • Morrison has been called the Rock'n'Roll Bing Crosby. He was definitely a huge Elvis fan, but I always think of Frank Sinatra when I hear that first album. If you play an Elvis song, a Bing Crosby Song and Sinatra song all at once, you get Jim Morrison.
    – Yorik
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 18:31

According to Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman, who originally signed the Doors recording contract with that company, Jim Morisson was a big fan of the band Love and of their leader Arthur Lee.

Love was the first rock band signed in by Elektra and Holzman become rather close to Lee. Reportedly it was Lee who pointed out Jim Morisson, who frequently attented to Love's gigs in several Los Angeles clubs, to Holzman (the rest is, quite literally, history :-)

You can hear the story in more detail in first person from Jac Holzman himselm in this fascinating interview on the radio show Sound Opinions.

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