The 21st Century Doors have lit a fire under the estate of the late Jim Morrison.
Seeing red are George and Clara Morrison, the octogenarian parents of the group’s legendary frontman, who filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against surviving members Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger on Wednesday. They claim the rockers swiped their son’s poetry and image and used them in a revamped version of the Doors currently touring the U.S., featuring the Cult’s former frontman, Ian Astbury, as a fill-in for Morrison.
The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also names Astbury as a defendant.
According to court documents published on the Smoking Gun Website, it claims the threesome “maliciously misappropriated” the name and logo of the original lineup, as well as signature parts of Morrison’s stage act which included reciting poetry during performances.
The new incarnation of the Doors has apparently found more acceptance on the concert circuit, selling out mid-range venues such as New York’s Roseland Ballroom (estimated capacity of 3,000) at $70 a pop.
The suit does not ask for specific monetary damages but seeks to “disgorge all profits which they have improperly received” since the trio decided to refurbish the Doors and launch a “national and international tour in order to wrongfully enrich themselves.”
The family filed the suit in conjunction with the parents of Pamela Courson, Morrison’s late common-law wife, since both the Morrisons and the Coursons share a 25 percent ownership stake in the Doors partnership. Manzarek and Krieger and ex-Doors drummer John Densmore each own a quarter as well.
Court papers indicate the defendants referred to the new formation in advertising, interviews, personal appearances and other promotional outlets as “The 21st Century Doors,” or variations thereof, in breach of their agreement with Morrison’s estate.
As such, Manzarek and Krieger’s trek with Astbury has yet to be listed under the news section of the Doors official Website (www.thedoors.com), a site jointly developed by all four controlling parties.
In fact, Densmore wasn’t exactly thrilled about the ex-Cult leader slipping into the Lizard King’s leather pants either. The new group, with the addition of former Police drummer Stewart Copeland behind the tom-toms for a few shows, unhinged the original drummer so much that he decided to sue his former bandmates in February, seeking to block them from using the Doors name and logo.
Densmore’s suit accused Manzarek, 63, and Krieger, 57, of misleading fans with their attempt to resurrect the classic Morrison-era tunes such as “Riders on the Storm,” “When the Music’s Over” and “L.A. Woman,” created during the band’s heyday in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Copeland wasn’t a fan for long either. He later filed his own lawsuit against Manzarek and Krieger, alleging they breached an oral contract when they unceremoniously dropped from him the tour.
While Morrison, of course, died of a heart attack in 1971 in his bathtub in a Paris hotel, his legend has lived on. Since his death, the Doors have sold a whopping 49 million albums to date. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder channeling Morrison on lead vocals. The surviving members have since released a Doors box set and recordings of rare live shows and organized a Morrison tribute concert in 2000.
The next Doors gig is scheduled for Boston on Friday night.