1967 Twenty-five Years Ago

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The Monterey Pop Festival, in California, was over by July, but the hippie assault on Haight-Ashbury continued long into the summer. Tourist buses were rerouted to pass through the ragged crowds of drug dealers, guitar poets, and flower children. Scott McKenzie’s anthem to this new San Francisco, one of July’s top songs, urged visitors to “wear flowers in your hair.” Among the ringing successes at Monterey had been a Los Angeles band called the Doors, named for a line from William Blake and a hallucinatory memoir by Aldous Huxley. Singer Jim Morrison’s voice achieved a pop gravity when combined with a mockbaroque organ, splashy jazz drums, and the invocations of sex and death in the lyrics. In the last week of July, “Light My Fire” (written by guitarist Robby Krieger) became the Doors’ first top-selling single. It was peppy and affirming compared with the later, darker efforts of Morrison, who became a kind of Nietzschean crooner.

The band had four smash years after breaking in; its run lasted until 1971, when “Love Her Madly,” from the L.A. Woman album, became its last number-one record. In the music world of 1967, the Doors were a relative rarity: neither folk singers nor Englishmen doing American blues. Morrison was recuperating in Paris after some very hard living when he died in 1971 of a heart attack. He was buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery there. Young girls still weep over his grave.