Led Zeppelin and The Doors seem to exist in two different parallel universes. Sure, they were technically contemporaries, both being some of the most influential and popular rock bands of the late 1960s that liberally culled from the blues, but that’s where their similarities seemingly end.
Led Zeppelin were English heavy metal pioneers who slashed through the ‘70s on their journey to create some of the greatest music, and most hedonistic stories of rock star excess, of all time. The Doors were emblematic of the ‘60s psychedelic scene, creating fervour and controversy pretty much everywhere they went, personified by the wild antics of their frontman Jim Morrison. By the time when Zeppelin were truly forging their world-conquering identity, Morrison had already passed away.
In the brief amount of time that the two acts overlapped, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant actually managed to catch a live performance of The Doors in 1969 when Zeppelin and The Doors shared the bill at the Seattle Pop Festival in July of that year. By this point, Morrison was already far removed from the svelte rock and roller of the band’s early days. His drinking had increased dramatically, and this era of the band was marked by his frequent debaucherous behaviour.
“We got a lot of advance publicity in England about how sexy Jim Morrison was, how virile and whatever,” Page told NME in 1970. “I was surprised to see how static he was on stage. He [didn’t] really come across in any way like I’d like to see.”
“Being dressed in black leather … but standing there like my father would on stage doesn’t really come across for me,” Page said. “As far as I can see, the Morrison thing is just an embarrassment toward the audience. He would actually insult them and swear at them.”
Morrison had been arrested in March of that year during an infamous concert in Miami where he antagonised the audience and allegedly exposed himself onstage. Plant agreed with Page’s assessment, hypothesising that Morrison was under the influence and mentally not there.
“It seemed like he was screwed up,” Plant said in the same interview. “Morrison went on stage and said ‘F*ck you all,’ which didn’t really do anything except make a few girls scream. Then he hung on the side of the stage and nearly toppled into the audience.”
“He did all those things that I suppose were originally sexual things but as he got fatter and dirtier and more screwed up, they became bizarre,” Plant said. “So it was really sickening to watch. We’re over here to have a good time, and people pay money to have a good time as well.”