It’s a given The Doors are an influential band. Many bands have acknowledged the debt owed The Doors. But The Doors have had a more direct influence on what came after them. It can be argued Jim Morrison was the model for punk rockers (the band X covered “Soul Kitchen” and their first four albums were produced by Ray Manazarek), and Iggy Pop was directly influenced by a Doors concert in which Morrison antagonized the audience. But can The Doors take credit for inventing Gothic Rock?
Newspaper and magazine writers have a lot of influence in the phrases we use on a daily basis (this hasn’t changed with the advent of the internet, writers have migrated to the online versions of newspapers and magazines). Writers in the clamor for articles coin phrases that end up catching on with the general public and we use without really thinking about where they came from or how they came about. The term ‘beatnik’ was a conflation run together when San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen was writing an article on the Beat Generation. At the time the Russian satellite Sputnik was in the news and on everyone’s mind and Caen ran them together and Beatnik was born. The term Gothic Rock came about in much the same way, writer John Stickney in his October 24, 1967 wrote about The Doors, their music and attitude in an article entitled “Gothic Rock Is Their Thing”.
Stickney’s article gives a veritable definition or blueprint for future Goths, from Morrison’s appearance “…black curls cascading over the upturned collar of a leather jacket…” to a description a Doors performance, “They allow other people to witness the manner of their existence and the pain and pleasure inherent in their imaginations.” Even concluding the article in setting any Goth could identify with, “the gloomy vaulted wine cellar of the Delmonico hotel…”.
In hindsight you can make the case and see a connection between The Doors and Goth Rock. Morrison’s attire, of leather pants and white linen poet shirts was later emulated by the Goths. The Doors music itself lends itself to comparison, the dark timbre of The Doors songs translates easily and almost with no added interpretation to the Goth style. The themes that Morrison explored in his songs also translates easily to a Goth perspective, mortality, sex, what happens at “The End of the Night”, “blood in the streets”, and “No one here getting out alive”, all themes the Goths embraced.
The Doors were neither a punk band nor a Goth band, but they had elements of each in them (as well as other genres of rock and roll). They were one of the groups that cast their seeds into the rock and roll earth and we’re witness to the fruit they bore.
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