Interview: The Doors drummer, John Densmore to do book signing


John Desmore, drummer for 60s rock band The Doors to do book signing at Radio-Active Records, Sept. 5. Flier courtesy of Radio-Active Records


The Doors: Unhinged is Densmore's second book. Courtesy of Densmore's press.
The Doors: Unhinged is Densmore’s second book. Courtesy of Densmore’s press.

Drummer and founding member of  60s rock band, The Doors,  John Desmore will be doing a book signing at Radio-Active Records Friday, Sept. 5.

“We’re excited to have someone of John’s legendary status in our store,” said co-owner of Radio-Active, Mikey Ramirez. “The fact that he wanted to tour independent shops versus big box retailers speaks very positively about his character.”

Desmore will be signing copies of his new memoir, “The Doors: Unhinged”

The event will also be accompanied by Miami based grilled cheese food truck, Ms. Cheezious.

This week, FAU’s Owl Radio conducted an interview with Desmore (audio and transcript below).

“It was surreal to talk to such an accomplished musician,” said Aris Hernandez, who conducted the interview. “Apart from music, he’s an honorable man and was a pleasure to speak with.”

John Densmore will appear from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5, at Radio-Active Records, 845 N. Federal Highway, in Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free, but signing requires book purchase, which costs $14.95-$24.95. For more information, call 954-762-9488 or go to the store’s event page.

 Owl Radio interview with John Densmore, conducted by Aris Hernandez


Aris Hernandez: This is your second book, the first having been a New York Times best-seller, so you have quite a bit to live up to in that sense, how do you feel about how the book’s been received by the general public as well as your musical colleagues.

Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 1.41.19 PMJohn Desmore: Woah, that’s a big question. You know, the second book, I had a New York publisher —The Doors: Unhinged — they kept telling me to write more about Jim and I was like ‘what?’ I did that. You can pick it up, it’s called “Riders on the Storm.” ‘No there’s more stories.’ So they were wanting dirt, you know what I mean? So I left, passed on some pretty good money and self-published, which was very educational. [I] learned a lot about the book business. So what I’m doing is sort of under the radar. I mean everywhere I go, people love it but it’s not going to be on the best-seller list because it’s not in the corporate world. You can’t get on those lists without a giant corporate publisher and they were ruining my baby, so I left. But it’s very very well received by everybody that reads it.

AH: I think your book’s content is unbelievable. The whole story, and you sharing this particular story about having to deal with publishers and so forth is a microcosm of what your plight as a member of The Doors has been throughout your career.

JD: Exactly. And to the second part of your question, how did my band mates receive it — before it was published I sent the last chapter to Ray and Robbie with a note saying ‘listen it’s going to be a tough read but I want to make sure you get to this chapter where I say, “how can I not love you guys, we created magic in a garage: we’re musical brothers.”’ And then when Ray got really sick I called him and was very pleased that he picked the phone up because you know our relationship was pretty strained — mine with Ray and Robby — due to the subject of this book.

AH: One of the things I found really interesting about this is the fact that you guys were prominent throughout the 60s and 70s. Obviously your legacy remains — you’re Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, you’ve got all these different accolades. So how do you feel about today’s day and age in music, where artists now almost have to give in just to make what they feel is suitable or commensurate for their talents?

Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 1.44.31 PMJD: Yeah, downloading has kind of created a situation where it’s so difficult. If a new band is trying to pay the rent and you get an offer to use one of your songs for a commercial do it. But if you get successful later you might want to re-examine that decision because you are flirting with the idea of changing your lyrics, as Tom Waits said, into a jingle. In our situation Jim was so angry of our considering “Come on Buick light my fire,” and that’s when he was alive, and he didn’t write that song really. I mean he wrote a few lines and sang it beautifully but it was mainly written by the guitar player. What does that say? He cares about all of the songs, the whole catalog, and what we represent. So in our case since we did so well we don’t need to do that and that wasn’t his wishes and he’s dead — he’s my ancestor now and I want to try and honor that.

AH: Have you received formal training in being able to assess the world around you, things that are rhetorical in nature? I ask because some of the principles that you’ve alluded to here are matters that people pay to learn.

JD: Well I have another year and I can get my B.A. in something, I quit. School is good sometimes, sometimes not. Sometimes you have a great teacher and he just feeds you like crazy and other stuff is real tedious. I don’t know — wisdom is in school and it’s also on the street.

Visit Owl Radio’s website.