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Music

The story of how The Doors were managed by a teenager

@TylerGolsen

Nothing was ever off-limits for The Doors: the freewheeling attitude of the California psychedelic rockers meant that they were available to indulge in whatever drugs, music styles, and lyrical focuses they desired. That openness extended to whoever might be hanging around the band’s orbit: spiritual leaders, actors, artists, pagan journalists. All were welcome, including literal children.

While the band were coming up in the mid-to-late 1960s, they were regularly accosted by a feverish young fan by the name of Danny Sugerman. Despite barely being 13-years-old, Sugerman was taken in by the band and made a part of their organisation. Sugerman answered fan mail and did various odd jobs around the band’s management offices. All the while, he got a front-row seat to rapid high and extravagant lows of Jim Morrison, whom Sugerman idolised.

The Doors already had a tenacious manager: Bill Siddons, who was himself a teenager when he began managing the band’s affairs. Still, there’s a major difference between a 19-year-old dealing with record companies and a 13-year-old trying to argue on behalf of a bunch of adults. Sugerman learned the ropes of the music business from Siddons, and he was eventually granted responsibilities beyond that of just answering fan mail.

Unfortunately, by the time that Sugerman ascended to a prominent role within The Doors organisation, Morrison had died in Paris. The rest of the band decided they wanted to continue without Morrison, with Siddons and Sugerman splitting management duties before Siddons left in 1972 and Sugerman took over as the band’s manager.

Remarkably, Sugerman took the management reigns before he even graduated from high school. How Sugerman managed to keep going to class in between his responsibilities with one of the biggest rock bands in the world is a fascinating question, but The Doors struggled for stardom without Morrison. By 1973, the band agreed to part company, and The Doors were officially put to bed.

Sugerman managed keyboardist Ray Manzarek briefly before being employed by Iggy Pop, a figure massively influenced by Morrison. Pop and Sugerman both fell victim to heroin addiction, and by the time Pop hooked up with David Bowie in Europe, Sugerman was out of the picture.

Later, Sugerman contributed to the book No One Gets Out of Here Alive, which helped revive interest in The Doors in the 1980s. The book would be a direct catalyst for Oliver Stone’s wild 1991 film adaptation The Doors, but Sugerman was not a featured character in that story.