Exact Date Uncertain. The Doors audition to be the house band at a small club on the Sunset Strip near the Whisky à Go Go called the London Fog
Following months of sporadic weekend gigs, unsuccessful auditions, and the occasional private party, The Doors invite all their friends to attend their audition, packing the tiny venue with a crowd of friendly faces. The hoodwink works and the band is hired by the venue's notoriously-named proprieter, Jesse James.
The Doors begin playing four nights a week (Thursdays to Sundays) starting in late February, and after a month, expand to six nights a week (starting on Tuesdays) until about May 7, 1966
. They perform four to five sets per night on a small elevated stage just large enough to fit them and are paid only $10 each — later bumped to $15 when they start performing six nights a week.
Setlists from this period typically include many blues covers with Ray Manzarek taking on some of the vocal duties. Manzarek plays without his trademark Fender Rhodes piano bass
for at least the earliest shows.
Also featured is a bleach-blonde go-go dancer named Rhonda Layne who performs in a rope cage across from the group, dancing to UK pop records between sets.
Jim Morrison describes the venue: "Our first job was at the London Fog on Sunset Strip. It was a small club. The
most people it could hold, I'd say, would be about fifty — on a good night, there could be about fifty people.
There was a bartender named George, a doorman named Sam, sometimes Joey would be at the door, a waitress named
Susie and a dancer named Rhonda who danced in a little rope cage across from the bandstand. Jesse James was the owner. He was a young man, but he was dying of cancer and it was kind of a struggle to keep the place going."
The setlist below comes from the only known live recording
made of The Doors at the London Fog as well as lists of original and cover songs the band is known to have performed during this early period in their career. The exact date of the live recording is uncertain, but it includes a cover of Wilson Pickett's "Don't Fight It" (Jim would later incorporate verses from this song into live versions of "Break On Through"), a cover of "Lucille," and early versions of "Strange Days" and "You Make Me Real." Ray plays without a piano bass and sings "Hoochie Coochie Man." A missing second reel is said to have contained the original, short-form version of "The End."
Two instrumentals, dubbed "Latin Bullshit #1" and "Latin Bullshit #2," were often played during sets as time fillers when the band didn't have enough material to cover their time slot. As the titles candidly suggest, they were Latin-themed jams that the group improvised from night to night.
Interestingly, folk-rock group The Seeds Of Time (later renamed Shadow Legend) played the London Fog shortly before The Doors started their stint there as the house band. The Doors had already auditioned at the venue as singer Johnny Legend recalls being told he should come back to hear "this band from Venice." Although he wasn't planning to return since he was underage (band members could be underage but not audience members), Legend forgot his electric autoharp at the club and had to return to fetch it. He met Ray Manzarek there who handed the harp back to him carefully saying, "I put this aside, I thought it might be special."
Anyone with more information about shows at the London Fog, or any specific dates or photos of The Doors' tenure there, is urged to contact me