When the Doors Played the Fillmore East and Dined at Ratner’s

Posted on: May 30th, 2013 at 11:53 am by
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[Photo: LIFE Magazine]The passing of Doors co-founder Ray Manzarek last week got us thinking again. Obviously too young to have witnessed their glory, The Doors was nevertheless household music growing up. Mom always deemed the vinyl Soft Parade as the perfect soundtrack for cooking. Lots of hummable melodies, etc. However, it wasn’t until much later on when we finally discovered the rest of their catalog. The self-titled debut, in particular, certainly resonated with its mysterious lyrics, raw style, and insertion of the tongue-in-cheek Whiskey Song cover; a well-worn cassette carried Waiting for the Sun and L.A. Woman on either side.

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[Photo: LIFE Magazine]We’ve already written about the Fillmore East and its importance in the canon of rock history. The Doors played four shows over two nights in 1968, March 22-23, two weeks after the joint opened. Forty-five years ago. Doors History chronicles the entire weekend as such:

In the early show on Friday, giving his all and extremely stoned, Jim falls into the lighting pit! Later during the same performance, Jim introduces the New York premiere of The Unknown Soldier by pretending to be a college professor and asking the “class” to pay close attention to the movie because afterward there will be an exam. After the movie they play “The Unknown Soldier” followed by what is possibly the first full length rendition of “The Celebration of The Lizard.”

In the late show on Friday, The Doors open with “When The Music’s Over” in which Jim, seemingly absent, comes flying over the drum kit and leaping down in front of the microphone just in time to scream the opening and signals the beginning of what is to be a totally outstanding show.

In the early show on Saturday, the audiences on their way to the Fillmore has picked a considerable amount of daffodils and throughout the show they are flung onto the stage. Jim picks some up and methodically places a few on each members instrument and between songs seemingly picks on John by placing many on his drums and under his nose in an attempt to get him going.

In the opening number of the second show on saturday, Jim holds onto the rising curtain to the point of maximum safe height and even a little more before letting go at the very last second soaring down right in front of the microphone in perfect timing to open the show with his characteristic introductory scream. The band plays The Unknown Soldier and follows it up with live performances of the song during each show this evening and do “Celebration” again during the late show. After Saturday’s late show The Doors are in such a good mood they tell Bill Graham they want to do another encore. Graham comes out on stage as the audience is filing out and asks them if they want some more, which they graciously accept, and the band ends up playing another entire set lasting over an hour.

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[Photo: Cal Deal]It’s also worth noting that Jim Morrison and the band loved dining at the Ratner’s location just next door to the club. The following was pulled from the Stephen Davis-penned band biography:

Afterward, Bill Graham took Jim and the band to Ratner’s, the old Lower East Side kosher dairy restaurant next door to the theater, for an early breakfast of blintzes and potato pancakes. Albert Goldman, who was profiling Jim for Vogue, noted that Jim automatically sat at the head of the table, and decided he must have an authoritarian personality.

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