After the sudden death of Jim Morrison in 1971, the surviving members of The Doors found themselves mourning the loss of their singer and, in truth, felt rudderless without him.
The reality, of course, was that Morrison’s health had declined rapidly, and while his death was still unexpected, it wasn’t a complete surprise to the rest of the band. The band forged their ideas for the 1971 album Other Voices while Morrison was living in Paris with his girlfriend, hoping that he’d return to the US to finish the album. Tragically though, he never made it back from the French capital.
The frontman was in Europe visiting Pamela Courson, and there remain conflicting reports about his health at this time. It has been said that Morrison was in the process of cleaning himself up and attempting to oust his longstanding alcoholism and drug habits. The move to a new country was his way of ridding himself of the social circle that had stopped him from reaching his potential.
On July 3rd, he was found dead in the bathtub of Courson’s apartment, and understandably, his loss knocked the band for six. The cause of death was listed as heart failure, although an autopsy was never performed because they weren’t mandatory in French law. It was also reported by several people claiming to be eyewitnesses that the real cause of death was due to an accidental heroin overdose, although this has never been proven.
Remarkably, the remaining band members didn’t stop recording the new album and completed it in the aftermath of Morrison’s demise, with it being released just three months after the singer’s death. “It was a tough time, of course. When Jim was gone, we had kept going,” Robby Kreiger later reflected. “The three of us were practising all the time, writing new stuff. When Jim passed, we said, ‘Jeez, what’re we going to do?’ We could just give it up, or, you know, we have all these songs. Let’s go in and record and see what happens.
“We probably shouldn’t have put it out that quick after Jim’s passing. We just felt like that was all we could do. We could’ve sat around and be depressed. Which we were. But, I don’t know. The record company, Elektra, they were wanting us to continue. It wasn’t that hard of a decision.”
Krieger and Manzarek stepped up on vocals, but in the end, Morrison’s boots were simply too big to fill with the album flopping monumentally.
However, they did consider replacing the singer, and one of the names they contemplated was Paul McCartney.
In a 2014 interview with Louder Sound, Ray Manzarek was asked, “Following Morrison’s death you considered bringing in another singer. I understand Paul McCartney was one of the names mentioned?”. In response, he confirmed there was truth to the rumour, stating: “Yes. Paul was going to play bass. That would have worked out great. Who knows what direction we would have gone off into had that actually happened.”
McCartney had only just getting started Wings at this time, and it would have been too much for him to balance two bands at once. However, the reality of the situation doesn’t stop us from dreaming about what it would have been like if Macca had decided to resurrect The Doors and take up their offer.