June 2, 1966: The Doors Play with Them at The Whisky a Go-Go

Van and Jim Morrison, The Whisky, 1966

The Doors hadn’t been at The Whisky a Go-Go very long at all. They had started there in an extended audition on May 16, 1966 because owner Elmer Valentine didn’t trust Jim Morrison not to get up on stage and swear. But because of the persuasive efforts of The Whisky’s booker, Ronnie Haran, a week later The Doors officially became the house band at The Whisky.

On June 2, 1966, the group Them came to The Whisky for a two-week residency. Them’s lead singer Van Morrison was known for his drunken and chaotic shows. The Doors would watch Them perform and the residency would end in The Doors joining Them onstage for a couple of songs that turned into extended jams.

(Click all photos for full size.)

Them, Van Morrison at center.

The Morrisons, Live at The Whisky, 1966

The Morrisons, Live at The Whisky, 1966

Them had taken their name from a 1954 science fiction movie about an invasion of giant ants, were from Belfast, Ireland, and had hits with “Gloria,” “Here Comes the Night,” and “Baby Please Don’t Go,” songs that would soon become rock standards. As the house band The Doors would open for the featured acts like Them, and other groups that appeared at The Whisky during Them’s residency, like Buffalo Springfield, Captain Beefheart, The Association, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. After their set, The Doors would watch Them perform. Jim Morrison, who was already known for chaotic shows, studied Van Morrison’s onstage persona and presence from the wings of the jammed club. Jim Morrison would later employ some of Van Morrison’s stage antics, such as smashing the mic stand into the stage. Paul Rothchild later commented that “It’s almost as if Jim studied their (Them’s) chaos and brought it into The Doors.” During the tenure of Them’s residency at The Whisky, the bands became friends and on May 18th Them invited The Doors onstage to jam.

The Doors and Them, The Whisky, 1966

The Morrisons, Live at The Whisky, 1966

The Morrisons, Live at The Whisky, 1966

For this encore exit from The Whisky both bands’ equipment crowded the stage, with two drum kits, two keyboards, two guitars, and two Morrisons. They first played Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour,” then Them’s “Gloria.” “Gloria” was a song The Doors had already included in their sets while building their own repertoire of songs. During Them’s stay at The Whisky The Doors had dropped “Gloria” from their set, but on May 18th it was back in. Both bands jammed, playing extended solos, and reportedly there was a 25-minute version of “In The Midnight Hour” and a 20-minute version of “Gloria.” Pictures were taken that night but no recordings of the show are known to exist.

The Morrisons, Live at The Whisky, 1966

Throughout their career The Doors would add and subtract “Gloria” from their sets, extending and jamming with it. Jim Morrison would add his own lyrical improvisations into the song including the sexually suggestive “she came up to my room” section.

Two versons: The second version is the X-rated one.

This was the first and last U.S. tour for Them, as they broke up shortly after completing the tour. Van Morrison would become a revered singer-songwriter, releasing albums such as “Moondance” and “Astral Weeks,” winning multiple Grammy awards, and being knighted in 2015. Of his duet with Jim Morrison, Van said, “[Jim] knew what he was doing and could do it very well.”

Sources: Other Voices Doors Talk Forum and DoorsHistory.com. See also this Manzarek and Densmore interview.

Originally published June 2, 2015.

Buying through Amazon.com helps The Doors Examiner! Thank you for reading The Doors Examiner! Please consider using our affiliate link when making your Amazon purchases. It doesn’t add a penny to your cost.
Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Amazon España | Amazon France

If you find these articles informative, entertaining and valuable, leave a donation. It will help sustain the site and perpetuate it into the future. Thank you for your support!

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of