On July 22, 1967, The Doors appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand for a final push to put “Light My Fire” at the number 1 position on Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 list.
It was only in April of ‘67 that Elektra and The Doors had released the shortened, radio friendly version of “Light My Fire” that got the song and the band played on AM radio nationally and captured the attention of America’s youth. By early June, “Light My Fire” had entered Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 list at number 29 and started a steady climb to the top.
Jim Morrison, looking like Jack Kerouac’s “sideburned hero of the snowy west,” gave a sedate but seductive performance as he lip-synched the lyrics. Clearly this was an important appearance for the band and Morrison gave the best effort he could. In the between-song interview Clark gave all the members of the band a moment to shine, and Morrison managed to get out his slogan from “The End” that “the west is the best.” Ray Manzarek gave an appropriate mystical statement while John Densmore and Robby Krieger stuck to talking about future plans and recording.
Did the American Bandstand appearance help push “Light My Fire” to number one? It’s hard to say. Certainly the trajectory was headed that way, and the appearance in itself would have helped. But Dick Clark in his closing comments to the segment gave The Doors his endorsement, calling the band “the biggest, most fantastically biggest band of the year.” This was a seal of approval of The Doors to teenagers across the country, which most assuredly sent thousands of teenagers out to buy the record, giving “Light My Fire” the final push to the #1 spot. By the end of the following week “Light My Fire” hit #1 on Billboards Hot 100 list and stayed there for three weeks.
Originally published July 22, 2014.