Book Review: The Doors FAQ

The Doors SAQ: Read it!

Google The Doors and you will find any number of rock ‘n’ roll websites with rock fans wanting to know more about The Doors. They want their questions about The Doors and Jim Morrison answered, everything from what books did Jim Morrison read, to what really happened in Miami, to what The Doors are doing today. Rich Weidman’s “The Doors FAQ” steps into that niche and answers those questions for everyone, from the casual rock fan all the way to The Doors aficionado.

As soon as you open “The Doors FAQ” you realize it’s a unique book, with the most obvious hint being that it’s formatted like a FAQ (frequently asked questions) found on websites. It doesn’t approach The Doors chronologically but is divided up like a FAQ — by subject, with short informative answers. You’ll easily find the answers to who The Doors were individually, Jim Morrison’s literary influences, the musical influences of The Doors, how The Doors got their name, Doors singles that reached number 1,and Doors songs used in movies. In short, any question a fan could have about The Doors is explored in “The Doors FAQ.”

The formatting of “The Doors FAQ” instantly makes it an easily accessible resource for fans, whether they’re newer fans or older fans, or should I say fans from previous generations. Each chapter starts with a question and goes on to answer it in a concise manner. But don’t let brevity fool you, because each chapter and answer is fully informative and even goes deeper than most other books about The Doors, whether they’re biographies, memoirs, or resources on some aspect of Doors history. I’ve been a Doors fan for thirty years and I was surprised at some of the new information I discovered here, such as biographies of former members of Rick and the Ravens, Ray Manzarek’s band that eventually morphed into The Doors, or the identity of the “unknown female bass player” that recorded on the nascent Doors World Pacific demos.

The Doors FAQ

In the summaries of literary or musical influences or biographies or synopses you won’t find any rote regurgitations from other books. Weidman has done his research and finds facts, quotes, and other archival information, availing himself of the most recent and up-to-date materials available, and his writing doesn’t allow this material to seem derivative. All of this combines to make “The Doors FAQ” fresh to all except maybe the most jaded of Doors fans or experts.

Most books on The Doors are overwhelmed by Jim Morrison, but not so with “The Doors FAQ.” Right from the beginning the bios of all The Doors are of roughly equal length. The lives of the surviving members, post-Morrison, aren’t relegated to the nether regions of a short last chapter or epilogue but are included from the beginning, so if you’re a fan of Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, or John Densmore, you will read about their most recent CDs and accomplishments.

Doors history sometimes seems to diverge at the dividing line of the life and death of Jim Morrison, but their collective history didn’t stop in 1971 and and Weidman tackles this later history more fully than any other book on The Doors to date. Weidman goes through the 2002 “The Doors of the 21st Century” and the action and reactions of the surviving members of The Doors which resulted in the lawsuit filed by John Densmore. Wiedman relates it factually and without any of the bias or acrimony that haunted the message boards of the time.

The Doors were first and foremost a literary band, and even their use of musical phrasing seems to take on a literary aspect. Weidman doesn’t shy away from The Doors’ literary roots, starting each chapter with a pithy and apropos quote on the aspect of The Doors being explored in that chapter. Invariably I found that the quote provided a bit of literary circularity tracking  back upon the subject and providing some illumination on the subject at hand.

“The Doors FAQ” is an easy reference tool allowing Doors fans to find the answers to their questions quickly. I can see it being used as a guidebook by Doors tourists in Los Angeles, for those hitting bookstores looking for the books on Jim Morrison’s reading list, and for those CD shopping for bands and musicians that influenced The Doors. These may be the most utilitarian of uses for “The Doors FAQ” I feel like I’ve left out many more aspects of this book, but on any short list of Doors books to have, “The Doors FAQ” is one to have.

“The Doors FAQ” is available directly available from Backbeat Books, or from Amazon.

Originally published October 16, 2011.

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