Why The Doors Were Actually Banned From 'The Ed Sullivan Show'

The Los Angeles band called The Doors would take the world by storm for only a short while, but their sound still lives on to this day. The band was formed in 1965 and consisted of the vocalist and posthumous legend, Jim Morrison, with Ray Manzarek as the keyboardist, John Densmore on drums, and Robby Krieger on guitar.

The Doors were only together for a few years when tragedy struck

Although the legend and sound of The Doors is still appreciated, the full band only made six albums together over a total of five years. In 1965, Morrison and Manzarek, who originally met at UCLA’s film school, saw each other again by chance on Venice Beach. Manzarek, who was already a part of Rick & The Ravens, added Morrison to the group as well. From there, Densmore became a part of the group. The band was then renamed to The Doors for Aldous Huxley’s book, The Doors of Perception, as Morrison’s idea. After Manzarek’s two brothers departed, then Krieger, who had played with Densmore in the Psychedelic Rangers before, was added to the lineup.

The Doors signed with Elektra Records in 1967, according to Biography.com. The band became wildly popular, and still is to this day. Their melodic sound encompassed elements of jazz, rock, and the blues. The band had a massive following despite only being together for a few years.

The Doors also became known for Morrison’s antics while performing, including his arrest while onstage in 1967 in New Haven, Connecticut. But Morrison would eventually break away and head to Paris, France with his longtime companion, Pamela Courson in 1971. He would die there that same year at just 27 years of age from reportedly heart failure. However, conspiracy theories have abounded about what happened since an autopsy wasn’t performed. Morrison was known to use drugs and alcohol, and according to Ultimate Classic Rock, the singer died from “an apparent heroin overdose.”

Why The Doors were banned from ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’

The Ed Sullivan Show, which lasted an incredible 23 years, was the show to perform on if you wanted to declare that you were going places as an artist. According to the official website for The Ed Sullivan Show, The Doors performed on the hit variety show on September 17, 1967. After the band finished their rehearsal, Ed Sullivan himself came to see them. He mentioned, “You boys looks great, [but] you ought to smile a little more.”

They were next met by one of the producers who told the band right before going on to change the wording for a lyric in a song they were going to perform, “Light My Fire.” In the song, Morrison sings, “Girl we couldn’t get much higher.” But they wanted the band to change it because it could seem to be about drugs. Accounts vary on exactly what they were asked to change the word “higher” to. According to Far Out Magazine, they were asked to change “higher” to the word “better.”

The Ed Sullivan Show’s website reports that Morrison wasn’t too keen on the idea from the beginning, but they eventually gave in and said they’d censor it by using another lyric. But that wasn’t the truth of the matter at all. Morrison told his bandmates, “We’re not changing a word,” and they certainly didn’t.

They went on to perform two songs, including “People are Strange” and “Light My Fire.” They didn’t change the lyric as the producer had wanted, and it made some people a little upset. Sullivan also didn’t shake hands with The Doors after their performance as he’s known to do, instead cutting to a commercial break.

Although the producer told them that they were originally interested in the band appearing in more shows, that wasn’t going to happen now. “Mr. Sullivan wanted you for six more shows, but you’ll never work The Ed Sullivan Show again,” the producer reportedly said. But Morrison’s reply is epic, and he said, “Hey man. We just did the Sullivan show.”

The band was obviously banned from the show and didn’t perform on it again. It’s a moment in rock history that will always be remembered.

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