The December 12, 1970 performance has been described as the most mythic of Doors shows. Occurring at The Warehouse in New Orleans, it was The Doors’ final live appearance with Jim Morrison as lead singer.
The Warehouse was formerly a warehouse for cotton, built in the 1850s. It was a fairly new venue having opened in January of 1970.
In its tenure it became one of New Orleans’ and even the South’s premiere music venues. Groups like the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, the Allman Brothers Band, The Who, The Police, Bob Marley, David Bowie, The Clash, Pink Floyd, and hundreds of other bands played there. The Doors’ performances in Dallas the night before had been subdued but successful, but New Orleans would prove far different.
The band again was premiering songs from “L.A. Woman” which they had started working on in L.A. That night something went terribly wrong. Midway through The Doors’ set Morrison began to forget the lyrics to the songs, so he tried telling a long rambling joke that fell flat. Morrison then began to hang listlessly on the microphone stand for support. When the band started to play “Light My Fire” Morrison got through the first verse of the song and when the solos came he sat down on John Densmore’s drum riser. When they came to the end of the solos and Morrison had to sing the last verse he didn’t get up. The band went through the cue two or three more times while Morrison sat there, until Densmore pushed Morrison with his foot urging him towards the microphone.
Morrison finally got up to sing, but it seemed everything had left him. Ray Manzarek describes seeing all of Morrison’s “psychic energy go out the top of his head.” In frustration, Morrison starting pounding the microphone stand into the wooden floor of the stage, splintering it. Then he threw down the microphone stand and walked off the stage. The band agreed to indefinitely suspend live touring and went back to L.A. to finish recording “L.A. Woman.” The Doors with Jim Morrison as the lead singer was over.
The Warehouse, realizing the historical significance of the smashed stage, didn’t repair it for several years afterwards. The Warehouse closed its doors in 1982 and was torn down several years later. Filmmaker Jessy Williamson has been working on a documentary on The Warehouse titled “A Warehouse on Tchoupitoulas.”
Originally published December 11, 2014.