Why Led Zeppelin Was Appalled by Jim Morrison and The Doors’ Live Act
Before they became notorious for their wild tours, Led Zeppelin was just another band trying to build a following in America. And the Zep made that happen not long after hitting the road in the U.S. at the close of 1968.
In those days, Zep was making its impressions on stage. Roger Daltrey, for one, remembered being knocked out watching Zep open for The Who on an early tour (circa spring ’69). And as they made the rounds, Zep’s members took in the acts of American bands they’d heard so much about.
That included The Doors, the L.A. band Jim Morrison formed in the mid-’60s. By the time Led Zeppelin arrived in California, Morrison had already begun his destructively heavy drinking. And at Doors shows, Morrison’s stage behavior could border on surly.
Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant didn’t know what to make of Morrison’s act in those days. After playing a festival with The Doors in ’69, both Page and Plant described their horror at the way Morrison conducted himself.
Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page recalled the ’embarrassment’ of seeing Jim Morrison and The Doors live in ’69
While Led Zeppelin never toured with The Doors for any length of time, both bands played the Seattle Pop Festival in July ’69. With Zep scheduled to go on after The Doors, Page had the chance to take a good, long look at Morrison, of whom Page had heard plenty.
“We got a lot of advance publicity in England about how sexy Jim Morrison was, how virile and whatever,” Page told NME in 1970 (via Led Zeppelin on Led Zeppelin). “I was surprised to see how static he was on stage.”
Page noted how much he admired Morrison’s songwriting and studio performances, but The Doors frontman definitely didn’t work his magic that day in Seattle. “He [didn’t] really come across in any way like I’d like to see,” Page told NME.
“Being dressed in black leather … but standing there like my father would on stage doesn’t really comes across for me,” Page said. “As far as I can see, the Morrison thing is just an embarrassment toward the audience. He would actually insult them and swear at them.”
Zep’s Robert Plant described Morrison’s Seattle performance as ‘sickening’
After Plant had made the rounds in America, journalists began comparing the sex appeal of Zep’s frontman to that of Morrison. But Plant didn’t take away much of anything positive from seeing The Doors perform in Seattle.
“It seemed like [Morrison] was screwed up,” Plant told NME’s Ritchie Yorke in ’70. “Morrison went on stage and said ‘F*ck you all,’ which didn’t really do anything except make a few girls scream. Then he hung on the side of the stage and nearly toppled into the audience.”
Plant felt like he was watching Morrison in decline (and in hindsight, he was). “He did all those thing that I suppose were originally sexual things but as he got fatter and dirtier and more screwed up, they became bizarre,” Plant said. “So it was really sickening to watch.”
Plant said he and Zep were going for the opposite reaction. “We’re over here to have a good time, and people pay money to have a good time as well,” he told NME. The Zep definitely did their job following The Doors in Seattle. Several reviews mentioned how Zep delivered a fine performance after the mess of Morrison and his group.