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LIGHT MY FIRE by Ray Manzarek

LIGHT MY FIRE

My Life with The Doors

By Ray Manzarek

Pub Date: June 29th, 1998
ISBN: 0-399-14399-8
Publisher: Putnam

If anyone were to write a Jim Morrison tell-all, band- and soulmate Manzarek would be the man. But, to his everlasting credit, he didn’t. Using his Doors experiences as the hook, Manzarek reels readers in with personal, often charming, if occasionally cloying, reflections on his life before, during, and since the Doors. He begins with his childhood in a working-class Chicago neighborhood, where his parents introduced him to the sensuous pleasures of the blues and meat-eating (a recurring theme—don’t ask). Later he attended UCLA film school, where he met Morrison. From there, the two lives followed parallel paths to different destinations. Manzarek, the more responsible (or less volatile), met and married his sweetheart, Dorothy, his wife to this day. Morrison became the band’s charismatic front man whose fixation with nihilism and violent imagery, when mated to his heavy drinking and drug use, created what Manzarek calls “Jimbo,” a sociopathic, drunken brute, “a monster. . . . the creature who eventually took Jim to Paris and killed him.” Rather than luxuriate in the sordid details of Morrison’s self-destruction, however, the author mostly prefers to revel in the giddy pleasures of life with the band: the genteel poverty of the early days; camaraderie and bickering among Doors members while on tour; success as known at the top; and even the truth about the Doors’ ill-starred 1969 concert in Miami (for the record, Morrison never exposed himself). If Manzarek feels any rancor over the end of the Doors—he claims that Jim’s 1971 sojourn in Paris was a hiatus, not a break-up—it is directed toward the hangers-on who steered Morrison down his path to self-smashing. Although Manzarek does reserve choice words for the director of the Doors movie, Oliver Stone, such as “fascist,” “psychotic,” and “bonehead.” Whatever. Even these screeds make this pop-culture memoir more engaging. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)