It would be hard to argue that alcohol contributed to the performances of Jim Morrison. A hardened alcoholic, Morrison only truly began to spin out of control in the final years of the 1960s. His once-sleek and svelt image was now slovenly, and the man himself was bearded and pudgy. While his antagonism towards his own audience grew to new heights, it all came to a literal head when Morrison was arrested for indecent exposure on stage at a Miami concert in March of 1968.
From that point on, Morrison was a lost soul. He arrived at recording sessions already wasted, and his abilities to conjure up the mystical ‘Lizard King’ were now long gone. Morrison pushed the band towards a harder-edged blues sound during this period as well, kicking back at the overt psychedelia of the group’s first four albums. Morrison wanted drinking-man’s music, and that was found in the blues.
On November 4th, 1969, The Doors entered Elektra’s Los Angeles studio for the first recording sessions of what would eventually become Morrison Hotel. Morrison, as usual, was drunk and raving about commercialism. Frequently repeating the phrase “money beats soul”, Morrison couldn’t manage to hold it together, and the sessions broke without anything but a nebulous blues jam.
The next day, the group brought in two ringers: the first was former frontman of The Lovin’ Spoonful, John Sebastian, whose skills on the harmonica added an authentic edge to the band’s Chicago style blues. The second was Lonnie Mack, the legendary southern blues guitarist who sat in on bass to give the group a propulsive drive. The X factor was Morrison, who was more composed and focused the second time around. He was still intoxicated, but this time he was able to harness the magic in one of the most ferocious vocal takes ever put to vinyl.
Drunk, uninhibited, and channelling the blues greats of the past, Jim Morrison managed to produce one of his greatest lead vocals of all time on ‘Roadhouse Blues’. He retained his unrestrained style, adlibbing throughout the track and even employing Robbie Krieger to give his solo and extra punch with some impromptu encouragement. When it was cut and mixed, ‘Roadhouse Blues’ found The Doors at their bluesy best.
Check out Jim Morrison’s isolated vocals on The Doors song ‘Roadhouse Blues’ down below.