Friday, December 27, 2013


The Doors concert at the Singer Bowl in Queens on August 2, 1968 was my first big-deal, legitimate rock concert experience outside of the home territory of my local high school, which on a couple of occasions hosted rather wonderful “package tours.”  (Once I saw The Shirelles, Neil Diamond and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, all at their best then.)

I was only 15, but the Long Island Railroad was an efficient way to get around and for some reason (ignorance, probably), my parents were ok with me attending the show, although I was going alone.  The Doors were at their early huge-est and The Who (at the time the U.S.-only Magic Bus compilation with that great cover photo of the psychedelic London omnibus was in release) were second on the bill.  Also, a group called Kangaroo, which featured ubiquitous drummer Norman Smart, who later played with all sorts of people.


Here are a couple of atmospheric shots from the show.  The Doors photo, showing Jim Morrison weakly lying on the stage, is mostly what I remember from their performance, along with a strong version of Break On Through (To The Other Side).  After Jim failed to stir himself for a while, I left early.  It was pretty disappointing and I can see why, as charismatic as he was, he must have been trying to cope with as a colleague.  (Much later in my life, I heard some hysterical stories from their former manager that added detail to my understanding of the man and band and put things into perspective.) 


The Who were simply astonishing.  Pete Townshend’s guitar solos alternated between the inspired and boring, but the splendor of The Who in full and literal flight (i.e., apart from John Entwistle, the band seemed constantly to move in all dimensions) playing their Happy Jack/Sell Out material (plus Fortune Teller and Summertime Blues) was riveting, stunning and timeless.  I’ve never seen anything like it since.

The Doors took their name (by way of Aldous Huxley) from a section of William Blake’s The Marriage Of Heaven and Hell (1790-93) reading: 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narow chinks of his cavern.”

I’m a little more “I suppose so,” and less gung-ho on those sentiments than I once was, perhaps, but year’s end brings both summing-up pessimism and (still, thank heaven) the seeds of optimism.   I’ve given myself marching orders and will once again try to put my shoulder a little more firmly and forcefully to the wheel and first do no harm.

By the way, don't the upcoming shows on the poster look great?  Jimi Hendrix and Soft Machine, Rascals and Vagrants.  The photo below shows me giving my school report about the concert.  I was much younger, shorter and friendlier then than I am now.

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