The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Jim Morrison Says to Millions: "Girl, We Couldn't Get Much Higher"

Tuesday, September 17: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Fan photo of the Doors collection at the Rock Hall, shared using hashtag #rockhallsatisfaction

In addition to the Jim Morrison–led call to arms “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” the Doors self-titled debut album included “Light My Fire.” Penned by guitarist Robby Krieger in his first songwriting attempt, the song catapulted the group to stardom, topping the charts for three weeks during the Summer of Love. For purposes of AM-radio airplay, the single version of “Light My Fire” was edited from its nearly seven-minute album sprawl to just under three minutes. With the Doors quickly gaining a loyal following – and notoriety owing largely to the charismatic if untrammeled personality of Morrison – the group were booked as a musical guest on The Ed Sullivan Show airing September 17, 1967. It didn't go as the producers had hoped, as the resulting episode followed keyboardist Ray Manzarek's assessment of the mid Sixties: "the battle was between the hip and the non- hip, the heads and the straights, the psychedelics and the squares – and that was basically the battle – the establishment against the hippies." 

Scheduled to perform their Number One hit "Light My Fire" before millions on the same show that had helped make the likes of Elvis Presley and the Beatles household names in America, the Doors arrived at CBS' Studio 50 to rehearse on the afternoon of September 17. All seemed well, but a producer visited the band's dressing room informing Morrison that the lyric "Girl, we couldn't get much higher" from "Light My Fire" would need to be changed for the family friendly variety show, which couldn't condone such suggestion of drug use during a broadcast. The group capitulated, though the gentlemen's agreement wouldn't stick.

As the last act of the evening, the Doors were beamed out to TV audiences around the United States following an introduction by Sullivan: "Now, The Doors: here they are with their newest hit record, 'People are Strange.'" With their first song finished, the group transitioned into "Light My Fire." In a moment of unbridled rock and roll defiance, a brooding, black leather–clad Morrison deliberately – and repeatedly – articulated "Girl, we couldn't get much higher," while the band showcased the depth of their musicianship, particularly Mazarek's keyboard dexterity. The Doors were summarily banned from ever again appearing on Sullivan, to which Morrison was reported to have cheekily responded to with "Hey, man, we just did the Ed Sullivan Show."

Can you imagine Jim Morrison as a cub scout? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is home to a collection of rare artifacts spanning the Doors' career, including Morrison's boy cub scout uniform circa 1950. The collection also includes instruments played by Ray Manzarek and Robby Kreiger, as well as riveting letters exchanged between the Florida Probation and Parole Commission and Admiral Morrison, Jim's father, in 1970, following Morrison's conviction in Miami.

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