When a member of your band dies, it's often a challenge to think about what comes next. Torn between grief and figuring out the next artistic venture is never easy. When The Doors frontman Jim Morrison died in 1971 at the age of 27, the loss of his voice seemed so profound that his band mates would have to find other avenues to work their psychedelic rock magic.
Except that's not really what happened. Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore all found their way in each other's live and careers for as long as all of them were alive (Manzarek passed away in 2013). Some of it was even done as The Doors, while some of their musical endeavors were so unexpected, you might not believe them unless you were reading this. Here's a look back at how the survivors of The Doors kept their musical fires lit in the ensuing decades.
Three more Doors albums (1971-1978): When Morrison died, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore were already at work on a planned follow-up to L.A. Woman. So irreplaceable was Morrison as a frontman that the other three didn't even try, and Other Voices (1971) featured Manzarek and Krieger sharing vocals. A yi9ear later, they put together another album, Full Circle; both of them were not blockbusters, and the trio decided to retire the band until 1978, when they put together new backing tracks for An American Prayer, a collection of Morrison's recorded poetry and spoken word pieces.
Hall of Fame and unfinished business (1993-1997): Though the surviving members were divided on Oliver Stone's biopic The Doors, the trio came together to accept induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. They performed a three-song set with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam on lead vocals. Four years later, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore picked out favorite tracks for a career-spanning box set which also featured a newly-completed track called "Orange County Suite," which featured previously unheard vocals by Morrison.
Storytellers to Stoned Immaculate (2000): As the new millennium dawned, two high-profile tributes to The Doors - a TV special (part of VH1's Storytellers show) and the album Stoned Immaculate - took place with a host of acts, including Stone Temple Pilots, Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, Aerosmith, The Cult, Creed, Train and others, including...uh, Smash Mouth. What made these honors interesting is that the surviving Doors just didn't offer words of encouragement as they collected royalties. Instead, they actually played in both projects. (We can't blame them, honestly: even if you'd carved your legacy into '60s rock, wouldn't you want to back up Bo Diddley on a cover of "Love Her Madly"?
The Doors of the 21 Century...and beyond (2002-2012): So jazzed were Manzarek and Krieger by the 2000 reunion that they started planning a whole tour with The Cult frontman Ian Astbury, paying tribute to Morrison and the songs they wrote together. Initially, it was claimed that Densmore sat out due to a bout of tinnitus, but he later claimed he wasn't asked to participate - and ended up joining forces with Morrison's heirs to prevent them from using the admittedly clunky name "The Doors of The 21st Century." (The group toyed with D21C and Riders on the Storm before settling on Manzarek-Krieger.)
Despite the court action, Densmore said he wsa open to joining them, so long as they picked his preferred singer - their old Pearl Jam pal Eddie Vedder. While that never came to fruition, the trio's last work in the studio occurred in 2012 (a year before Manzarek's passing), when the group joined forces with a most unlikely collaborator: electronic musician Skrillex. Their "Breakin' a Sweat," first recorded for a documentary in which DJs joined forces with musicians outside their genres, appeared on Skrillex's Grammy-winning Bangarang. "I like to say this is the first new Doors track of the 21st century," Manzarek proudly announced - and who are we to argue?