Former Doors Drummer Sues Bandmates Over Reunion

By | February 5, 2003 at 12:00 AM

A reunion concert by two former members of 1960s band the Doors has sparked a lawsuit by a third member, who says they can call themselves “the Windows, the Hinges,” but not “the Doors.”

Drummer John Densmore filed a legal action in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday charging breach of contract, trademark infringement and unfair competition against keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger.

Manzarek and Krieger have joined forces with singer Ian Astbury, formerly of 1980s rock band the Cult, and drummer Stewart Copeland, formerly of rock trio the Police, to play a concert in Los Angeles on Friday.

“I’m sad and hurt that my former bandmates are misusing the logo and the name, confusing people,” Densmore, 58, told Reuters in an interview.

He wants them to bill themselves as “former members of the Doors. It could be Windows, the Hinges, I don’t care what it is,” he said.

Manzarek, 63, countered in a separate interview that Densmore’s suit was “frivolous,” and that he and Krieger, 57, were billing themselves as “The Doors, 21st Century.”

The Doors, famed for such tunes as “Light My Fire” and “Riders on The Storm,” have sold more than 49 million albums since their heyday in the second half of the 1960s. They broke up a few years after mercurial lead singer Jim Morrison died of heart failure in 1971.


Densmore said he will not prevent Friday’s show from going ahead at the Universal Amphitheater near Hollywood, because he does not want to alienate hardcore fans who do not care who’s on stage. He has no desire to play with his former bandmates, but would not rule out a reunion down the road.

The issue of control over a band’s name pops up frequently, but mainly concerns fraudulent versions of old soul groups like the Platters and the Drifters. Just last month, Beach Boy Al Jardine was prevented by his former colleagues from touring with a group dubbed the Beach Boys Family and Friends.

In the case of the Doors, the name and logo are owned by a partnership of the three survivors and the estates of Morrison and his wife, Pamela Courson. Densmore said each member of the Doors has veto power over the other three, a concept arranged by Morrison soon after the band formed in Venice, California back in 1965.

The suit also names Astbury and Copeland, whom Densmore said he loves as musicians, “but it’s not the Doors. That’s my point here… It shouldn’t be called the Doors if there’s someone other than Jim singing, y’know?”

Copeland was drafted last summer when Densmore bowed out of a reunion show near Los Angeles partly because of tinnitus, an ear complaint that has since healed, and partly on principle. (The three played with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1993, and with a series of guest vocalists for a televised concert in 2000, which Densmore viewed as “tributes” to Morrison.)

Densmore said the elderly parents of Morrison were “livid” about the reunion show, but have not joined his lawsuit since the father of their attorney died last weekend.

Densmore said he had held frequent telephone conversations with Krieger over the past few months begging him to change the name, to no avail. Densmore said he is “slightly alienated” from Manzarek because of a widely published essay Densmore wrote condemning the use of rock music in commercials.

Manzarek said he has no problem with the use of rock ‘n’ roll to promote products that can help the environment or the economy.

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