Thursday, April 01, 2010

No One Here Gets Out Alive


No One Here Gets Out Alive by Hopkins and Sugerman
No One Here Gets Out Alive, originally written in 1980, is the first biography of Jim Morrison. The Doors remain rock demigods today nearly 40 years after Morrison's death in 1971 and the break-up of the band in 1973. The Doors, unlike rock stars today, are uncorrupted by cell phone sponsorships or the preening over-scrutiny of a million Youtubers. They are chiefly remembered through dusty vinyl, CD compilations and Oliver Stones's excellent biopic The Doors (1991).

In 1980, writers Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman dutifully recorded Morrison's habit of personal myth-making that made him a star. The book follows Morrison as a young man through a long rotation of colleges before forming the Doors. According to accepted legend, Morrison and Manzerek, both UCLA film school grads, met on Venice Beach in California in July of 1965. The two decided to form a band around Morrison's writing and Ray's musical connections.

The band they formed were a rock 'n roll phenomena that stood on their own musical merits w/out the information superhighway to propell them or MTV to sell them. Jim Morrison's vocals (like silk sheets being torn apart described one reviewer) and roughly poetic lyrics hynotized massive crowds, Robbie Kreiger's masterfull bottleneck infused the band's songs with blues soul, Ray Manzarek's psychedelic rhythyms flooded out in sharp rich melodies and John Densmore knew enough to stay out of the way while contributing his own take on scene dominated by some of the best drummers Rock had ever seen.

Morrison died at age 27, the same age as several other famous rock stars, including Alan Wilson of Canned Heat, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones. Morrison's girlfriend, Pamela Courson, also died at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose.

No One Here Gets Out Alive is a must read for all true-blue rock 'n roll nerds. The writers experience make this book more than a glossy long-form article. Co-writer Danny Sugerman provided a unique perspective on the band - Sugerman (along with a 12-year-old Billy Idol) began working as an assistant in the Doors publicity office at the age of fourteen before becoming their manager for two years after Morrison died. Jerry Hopkins was a contributing editor for Rolling Stone for 20 years and has written three books on Elvis Presley and one on Don Ho.

References:
Wikipedia, The Doors
Wikipedia, No One Here Gets Out Alive
IMDB, The Doors (1991)

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