The Doors’ career had a short lifespan, from July 1965 until August 30, 1973, when the band officially broke up. The Doors’ Jim Morrison years are well known and documented but the period from Morrison’s death until August 1973 has seemed more of a footnote, with most casual rock fans considering The Doors to have ended on July 3, 1971.
Following Morrison’s death, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger released “Other Voices” as The Doors on October 18, 1971. In such close proximity to Morrison’s passing it is apparent that they’d already been working on new material, but some of the songs were obvious references or homages to Morrison, with “Tightrope Ride” and “Hang On To Your Life” being the most obvious.
To complicate matters, according to manager Bill Siddons, The Doors had been auditioning singers to replace Morrison. Siddons mentions Mike Stull of The Wackers as one candidate. But whether there were creative differences, or in deference to Morrison, it was felt that a new lead singer would be inappropriate, and for better or worse vocals were handled on the last two albums by Manzarek and Krieger.
Perhaps signaling that The Doors were falling apart, the second post-Morrison album “Full Circle” was released on August 15, 1972. Despite its title, “Full Circle” moved away from The Doors’ classic rock sound and toward funkier rock and jazz fusion. Obscure song titles like “Verdilac,” “The Peking King and the New York Queen,” and singles like “Piano Bird” and “The Mosquito” didn’t rank very high on the Billboard charts or in the public’s consciousness.
After this tepid response, The Doors decided that a change of scenery might help recharge their batteries and bolster their creativity. So the band from Venice headed to London. There they decided to look for a new lead singer, considering Paul Rodgers right before or as he was forming Bad Company. At the suggestion of Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman, they auditioned Howard Werth of the band Audience. There was even a blurb in Melody Maker Magazine describing the relationship:
“Howard Werth former singer with Audience is virtually certain to become the successor to Jim Morrison as lead singer with The Doors. Audience broke up last September and the job with The Doors has come about due to the friendship between Werth’s label boss Tony Stratton-Smith and Jac Holzman head of Elektra in America, The Doors’ label.
“‘Jac gave the early Audience albums to the Doors and they really liked Howard’s singing and writing’…Stratton-Smith told MM this week. ‘Then he called me from The States and asked how Howard would feel about working with The Doors. And he is very excited about it.’
“The Doors are coming over to England next month to rehearse with Werth and tie up a deal which will put Howard into Jim Morrison’s shoes.”
– Melody Maker, 3rd February 1973
But the plans quickly fell apart, as Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore were writing material that was diverging into different creative areas. With Jim Morrison The Doors had lost their creative focus. When Ray Manzarek and wife Dorothy left England, in August 1973, The Doors had officially closed.
Note: The Doors re-released “Other Voices” and “Full Circle” on September 4, 2015.
Originally published August 30, 2015.