The Doors had scheduled a second European tour for 1970 (Italy, Switzerland, France), in the midst of the Miami trial. The Doors had asked for a continuance until October of that year, but Judge Murray Goodman denied the request effectively cancelling the band’s second European tour. The only survivor of the tour was the Third Annual Isle of Wight Concert (the festival still exists and will next be held in June 2014) which The Doors played on August 29.
The Isle of Wight is an island off the coast of England, and is an outdoor event. It wasn’t easy to get there. After a day in court The Doors had to fly from Miami to London, then take a smaller shuttle plane over to the concert grounds, by the time they had arrived they hadn’t slept in 36 hours. The Doors had long since avoided performing outdoors because they thought it took away the mystery of their performance, but they took the show to offset the legal fees incurred by the trial. The concert was a three day event starring Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Moody Blues, Sly and the Family Stone, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
Like a lot of concerts from the 60’s a certain level of chaos attended the events. The concert had been oversold and fans were turned away, but the crowd rioted and broke down barriers and it became a free concert. That’s much the same reason Woodstock became a free concert. Again, like many other major concerts of the 60’s D.A. Pennebaker was there filming, and his camera’s captured a lot of the tone and mood of the audience showing kids running around the grounds with sleeping blankets jostling for prime space to watch the concerts. At one point he captured the walls being breeched by the kids, and that’s the segment Pennebaker decided to use prior to his footage of The Doors.
The Doors didn’t play until midnight of the third day of the concert. Once there, Jim Morrison began drinking which added to his fatigue. Morrison’s performance lacked not only histronics but energy. The Pennebacker film shows Morrison hanging on to the microphone stand, a cigarette smoldering between his fingers while the band played songs mostly from their first two albums. After the show John Densmore in a pique of anger threw his drumsticks down and said he was he never playing with “that a$$hole (Morrison) again.”
The day after The Doors performed Morrison took a tour of the festival grounds and bumped into John Tobler of Zig Zag Magazine. Morrison gave him an impromptu interview, and a few things that were on Jim Morrison’s mind that day was the nature of revolution, wanting to start a small literary magazine, and the future of Elektra Records. Tobler also asked Morrison if the reason they had played songs off the first two albums was because the audience would know them better. Morrison replied “No, we knew them better.”
You can read the full Zig-Zag interview with Jim Morrison here.
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