As a Doors fan you want every new book, CD or DVD to be the best, coolest and the most definitive work on the band that it can be. Unfortunately, not all things are equal and while people’s hearts may be in the right places in their love of the band the execution of it may not be the best for that particular work. Such is the case with “Dates With The Doors: The Chronology of Jim Morrison and The Doors” by Courtney Purcell.
The first two ‘chapters’ are lists of people and bands that had a connection to Jim Morrison and/or The Doors. Some of the people and groups are obvious, as we know them from other books. Other entries are simply inexplicable. I’m sure Warren Beatty was at some parties that Morrison attended but the connection is not explained up front. The connections are drawn but more on that later. Anita Bryant is also mentioned but her only connection to The Doors is she was one of the celebrities headlining the decency rally held in Miami after the “Miami incident”. The same with Jackie Gleason.
The next problem with “Dates With The Doors” are facts and their attribution. There are missing facts in the first chapters with the mini-synopses of deceased people connected to The Doors: Purcell misses death dates. Purcell misses the death date of Robert Gover this past January. Maybe we can forgive Purcell for missing this because Gover’s death is recent and perhaps he wasn’t able to make the change, but the Dick Clark synopsis doesn’t include the date of Clark’s death and that was in 2012!
In the actual chronology sections of the book, eight sections that span the important dates in Doors history, the attribution or lack of it comes into play. As mentioned the synopses in the first two sections are people that haven’t been mentioned before in connection to Morrison or The Doors. In the chronology Purcell brings in the connection, but the attribution of these previously unknown connections are nil to nonexistent. While Purcell correctly attributes some articles in his notes section, the section is incomplete and other attribution is from secondary sources, such as Newdoorstalk at proboards.com which is the main province of Sara Perry who does publish original articles there. That’s where the attribution should lie.
Here’s the kicker though: Purcell seems to have some previously unknown information regarding The Doors and Jim Morrison, such as Morrison talking about and trying to start a band called The Doors as early as 1963 while he was still in Florida! Or that Morrison had gotten a girlfriend pregnant in 1961 and his father ordered Jim to no longer have any contact with the girl. These are just a couple of the more interesting tidbits in the book but Purcell has no attribution to where they came from. Purcell mentions before his bibliography that a lot of his research took place before he planned a book and while he made notes on the contents of the articles he never saved the sources.
At the risk of giving unasked for advice to an author, if Purcell had made “Dates With The Doors” a narrative format (and he comes pretty close in the chronology sections) and had complete attributions this would be a great book, maybe even the definitive biography of The Doors. Maybe Mr. Purcell will be encouraged to revisit this and do justice to a subject he obviously loves, and a subject that deserves the best an author can give it.
Originally published November 11, 2015.