Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens, New York was built in 1923 to host the U.S. Open tennis tournament. In the 1960s as America was being gripped by rock ‘n’ roll, the stadium turned to concerts to fill seats and coffers during fallow times for tennis. Forest Hills was a venue for a lot of the big name rock acts of the day. In 1964 The Beatles played there, arriving by helicopter that landed on the grass courts, Bob Dylan played there. It was natural The Doors played there August 12, 1967, and it turned out it wasn’t the best venue for the band.
Just a couple of weeks before the Forest Hills show “Light My Fire” had become the number one selling record in the U.S. and The Doors were at the height of their musical prowess and riding the high a number one record will give a band. Paul Simon was lobbied by Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman to have The Doors open for Simon & Garfunkle, and he assented after Holzman played a tape of The Doors telling Simon they were going to be the biggest group in America.
The Doors opening for Simon & Garfunkle, maybe that should have been seen as an omen, or somebody should have realized the soft folk rock of Simon & Garfunkle and the harder edge of The Doors weren’t compatible. When The Doors came onstage things didn’t go well right from the start, the crowd jeered the band and laughed at Morrison’s histrionics. Ray Manzarek later quipped “I didn’t know whether I was playing Forest Hills or Forest Lawn Cemetery. We were in hell. That was one of the all-time lows.” Morrison later told people “I hated them (referring to the audience). I wanted to kill them.”
Maybe it was Morrison’s aloof manner that put the audience off, but Forest Hills had a reputation for a being a contentious audience. When Bob Dylan played there the audience reportedly gave him a harder time than the audience at the Newport Jazz Festival when he went electric. Later a Forest Hills audience would boo Jimi Hendrix offstage.
After The Doors left the stage, Simon, who still believed in The Doors went onstage and reprimanded the audience. Forest Hills was an outdoor venue, and it was the beginning of the belief among The Doors that their sound was diluted by outdoor venues.
Note on Source for this article “Break On Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison” by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky.
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