Jim Morrison’s 65th Birthday Party Presented by KLOS 95.5 FM Starring Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek of The Doors, Barney’s Beanery, December 8, 2008
PHOTO: Richard E. Aaron
The O.G. B’s.B. at the crook of SM Blvd. is one of those institutions that mostly just coasts along–albeit inoffensively–on its past glories. Closing in on their 9th decade of existence and having spun off three additional locations (and presently threatening a 5th near UCLA) B’s.B. is more or less a notch above your better T.G.I.F’s as reliable purveyors of pulled pints and wings and things, served up, of course, atop that familar swampy waft of beer-soaked hardwood.
Tonight, though, it’s the apropos site of a KLOS-hosted private party starring surviving Doors Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, in celebration of what would have been the 65th b.d. of Jim Morrison, who, word has it, hung here at B’s.B. back in the day. (His favorite booth, if you’re wondering, was, per Robby’s reliable recollections, one with a view of the traffic [I didn’t catch the exact one.])
Also cresting in on the party wave for some well-timed buzz was Rhino’s recent release of Live at the Matrix, a double live Doors CD bootlegged up in SF back in ’67, as well as an early look at prototypes for upcoming Doors-branded Converse Chuck Taylors.
Just before 10p, a couple of hrs into a generous open bar, an attempt is made at distributing chunks from a chocolate cake the shape and size of Colorado, adorned with the classic Doors logo, “Happy Birthday, Jim”, and, in the center, a loving recreation of Jim’s handwritten lyric sheet to “L.A. Woman,” edible-ink-jetted onto a white “page” of frosting. Ladd, the popular 95.5 nighttime jock, then swoops onto the scene, looking smooth as he sounds on air in sleek all black, to conduct a freewheeling on-air Q&A with Ray and Robby, mixing in classic Doors cuts between softball Q’s. Ladd is a slick radio pro, and those attendees who made it in as lucky caller #12 or whatever on the contest hotline, eat him up (One particularly enthusiastic fanman shouts out what must be his catchphrase and sports a J. Ladd T-shirt.)
There are some clear distinctions between who are the KLOS winners and who are the industry invitees (of which we are only too lucky to be included) but let us refrain from pointing out the superficial differences in deference to The Spirit of The Doors, and, more overly to The Spirit of the 6T’s themselves, an hedonistic yet egalitarian spirit which thrives to this day within Ray and Robby, displayed as they weave The Spirit into just about every response to Ladd. Sprinkled in the Q&A are little historical bulletpoints—a mention of Robby-penned lyric for “Light My Fire,” the intricacy of their live performance on the Smothers Brothers, etc.—alongside obligatory shout outs to drugs and sex, but there’s absolutely no irony, and that’s really the takeaway here.
This easily could have devolved into a ridiculous event, as, let’s face it, most radio promos do tend to be but tonight, there’s too much good vibe in the room. Robby and Ray are genuine and the air with their public is one of mutual respect, not ironic worship. Sure, there’s a bit of product to be hawked, that aforementioned CD and those Chuck’s, but they’re tucked unobtrusively at a corner table in the back. And any discussion of whether the Estate of Jim Morrison is doing right by their charge by branding his visage on shoes is not on the agenda tonight, for it is the Lizard King’s birthday and Robby and Ray and KLOS and an open bar and a big cake are here.