The day after his 24th birthday, and just before taking the stage at the New Haven Arena in New Haven, CT, Jim Morrison is maced by a police officer who mistakes him for someone who doesn't belong backstage.
After performing a few songs, during the musical interlude of "Back Door Man," Jim begins to tell the audience what had happened — referring to the officer in question as "a little man in blue." Moments later, the house lights are brought up and Morrison is dragged off stage by several police officers and arrested for "indecent and immoral exhibition." The charges are ultimately dropped.
The exact setlist performed tonight is unclear as no recording has ever surfaced. Articles and the original police report state that the band had played "several songs" before the arrest was made. One article quotes lines from "Unhappy Girl" and "People Are Strange," suggesting they may have been performed, although this may be artistic license on the part of the journalist. At least two articles mention "When The Music's Over" specifically and one quotes lines from "Five To One." It's doubtful the latter was performed in its entirety as Morrison had only begun using select lyrics from the still-unreleased song in concert (see Nov. 3, 1967
and Nov. 16, 1967
). Additional songs, such as setlist regulars "Break On Through," Alabama Song," or "Soul Kitchen," may have also been performed before "Back Door Man."
The date of this concert is sometimes incorrectly identified as December 10, 1967 (especially on commemorative posters and shirts). This is likely due to the infamous mug shot taken of Jim Morrison by the New Haven police, who booked him after midnight and dated the photo 12-10-67.
This concert is also incorrectly dated to 1968 in Oliver Stone's movie, The Doors.
Jerry S. Majnich remembers: "The show was held in the New Haven Arena, where I attended many New Haven Blades hockey games in the old Eastern Hockey League. Good old time hockey. I must tell you the venue was nothing at all as made out to be in the [Oliver Stone] movie. The arena was a real shithole. I mean really bad; old as the hills. The chairs on the floor were wooden benches, four seats connected. The entrance way had many large plate glass windows. The stage was stark with no redeeming features. The arena was torn down not too long after the concert.
The show started as you would expect. However, after a handful of songs, Jim stopped singing. He then started a rant about how the police maced him backstage. His tone got increasingly harsher in his taunts toward the police, who by the way were present in significant number. Insults turned to vulgarity, at which time police made their way to the stage.
Before Jim was placed under arrest, the rest of The Doors had stopped playing and turned their backs toward the audience. I took it as showing their displeasure with Jim's behavior. However, in retrospect, it could have been in protest to the police.
Needless to say, fans were not happy. Not only for the arrest, but only getting an abbreviated concert. Even though the ticket only cost $5.00. Well, things went down hill from there. Fans started throwing those wooden chairs around in anger. I remembered those glass windows. Dean and I made a hasty retreat out the door to avoid any shattering glass. Walking at a brisk pace, we headed to the parking lot behind the arena. As we turned the corner we abruptly stopped to avoid falling on Jim and police as he was being dragged into the paddy wagon."