Poetry? You Call This Poetry?
Danny Fields: When I wasn’t getting laid elsewhere I went to Max’s Kansas City every night. It was a bar and restaurant two blocks away from where I lived and you could sit there all night and bring yourself coffee. It was free. And you always signed the check and never paid the bill. I felt so guilty, I had an unpaid bill of about two or three thousand dollars. I guess that was a lot in the sixties. I had friends that would sign the check “Donald Duck” and “Fatty Arbuckle.” It was just so wonderful and all the waitresses were beautiful . . . and all the busboys . . .
You could have sex with all the busboys. I mean, not right there, but later. And anybody who walked into the room, you could fuck, because they all wanted to be in the back room. And you would say, “You’ll have to fuck me and I’ll let you sit at a good table.” So it was wide open, but it wasn’t gay, thank god. We hated gay bars. Gay bars? Oh please, who wanted to go to gay bars? At Max’s you could fuck anyone in the room, and that was what was sweet about it:
Leee Childers: Danny was the company freak at Elektra Records. His job was to keep the stupid record company executives somehow in touch with the street. That was an actual job title then: “company freak.” He told them what was good and what wasn’t, but mostly what was cool. The record companies were wise to actually admit that they weren’t cool. In the sixties, they had to admit they didn’t have a clue. So they hired people whose job it was to be cool. It was a wonderful idea.
Danny Fields: They hired someone at a low level who wore bellbottoms and smoked dope and took LSD in the office—me. And I really would take LSD in the office. I would sit around and just lick it. My hands would be all orange.
Steve Harris: I was working for Elektra Records and was in California with Jac Holzman, the president of Elektra, when he went to see the Doors at the Whiskey for the first time. He came back and said, “I saw a really interesting group and I think I’m gonna sign them.” And he did. Then they came to New York to do a show at Ondine’s, on Fifty-eighth Street, under the bridge.
Danny Fields: I remember Morrison did “Light My Fire” that night, because it was the only good song that he did.
Tom Baker: I sat with Andy Warhol and his entourage at a long table near the stage. Pam Courson, Morrison’s girlfriend, sat alongside me and was very excited. She said to me, “Jim’s really up for tonight’s show. Forget that shit at Gazzari’s, now you’re going to see the real Jim Morrison.”
When I saw them at Gazzari’s, the club on Sunset Strip, Jim was high on LSD and staggering drunk. His performance was unspectacular, except for one moment—while stumbling through a song early in the set, he suddenly let out with a deep-throated, bloodcurdling scream. Pam was furious with him and kept telling me I wasn’t seeing him at his best. I told her he was a good guy, but he should keep his day job.
But when he finished the show at Ondine’s, I sat there stunned. I looked over at Pamela. She leaned toward me and said, “I told you so.”
Afterwards, the Doors gave a party in a club to celebrate their success. When it was over, Jim and I stood talking at the bottom of the stairs that led up to Forty-sixth Street. It was late, and the area was full of various cops and creeps. Suddenly, Morrison started throwing empty glasses up the stairs. I grabbed him by the arm and yelled, “What the fuck are you doing, for Christ’s sake?”
He ignored me and threw another glass up the stairs, simultaneously letting out one of his bloodcurdling screams. I expected a small army of cops to come charging down. After one final glass and one final scream, Jim turned and was gone. I was frustrated because I wanted to tell him that finally I had met someone who was truly possessed.
Danny Fields: The next day I had to go to the record company, so I told them there was this song about fire, and, “If you’re putting out a Doors single, put that one out.”
They said, “Uh uh, it’s too long.”
Then other people started to tell them to do that. At first they thought it was impossible, but after deejays reported back to them that they had a potential hit here, without that pretentious nonsense in the middle, they started to listen. It was a catchy tune.
So they sent Paul Rothchild into the studio and said, “Paul, cut it.” And Paul did. You can hear the separation in the middle. And it worked. It went to number one.