May 9, 1971: “L.A. Woman” Hits Billboard Charts

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The Doors in 1971: "L.A. Woman" hits the Billboard chart

On May 9, 1971, The Doors’ album “L.A. Woman” hit number 9 on the Billboard charts and stayed there for 34 weeks.

“L.A. Woman” is the last album The Doors recorded with Jim Morrison. The Doors started recording “L.A. Woman” in November 1970, but the recording saw the departure of Paul Rothchild as The Doors’ producer. During rehearsals for “L.A. Woman,“ Rothchild said he was so bored with the band’s playing and Morrison’s lethargic delivery that he found himself laying his head on the mixing board (the song in question was reportedly “Love Her Madly“). The Doors decided to produce the album themselves along with long time engineer, Bruce Botnick, who had previously co-produced Love’s “Forever Changes.” “L.A Woman” was virtually recorded live in The Doors’ workshop which was refitted for the recording, the studio downstairs and the mixing and recording equipment upstairs in The Doors’ office.

The "L.A. Woman" Promo Poster
Crucified on a telephone pole: The “L.A. Woman” promo poster (click for full size)

“L.A Woman” is the impressionistic autobiography of a rock band in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. “L.A. Woman” also has some of the most personal lyrics from Morrison and Doors guitarist Robby Krieger. The album starts with “The Changeling” with Morrison practically telling everyone he was leaving. “Love Her Madly” is reportedly based on Krieger’s fiery relationship with soon to be wife, Lynn: “Don’t you love her as she’s walking out the door?” (“Touch Me” from “The Soft Parade”, also written by Krieger about Lynn, was originally titled “Hit Me”.) “Hyacinth House” was from an earlier demo recorded at Robby Krieger’s parents’ house. “Riders on the Storm” is a restatement of “The End,” a serial killer murdering a family, this time with maybe a little hope in the line “Girl you gotta love your man/take him by the hand/make him understand.”

“L.A. Woman” was recorded quickly, The Doors brought in Marc Benno and Jerry Scheff to fill out the sound, and by mid-December of 1970 were previewing the “L.A. Woman” songs in Dallas and New Orleans.

Note: This article is expanded and updated and appears in the book “The Doors Examined,” available on Amazon.

Originally published May 8, 2015.

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