The Doors perform their final concert with Jim Morrison at the Warehouse in New Orleans. Jim is reportedly drunk and the performance is later characterized as a "disaster." He tells several jokes, one of which seems to go on and on with no real punch line. During the evening's last song, Jim grabs the mic stand and repeatedly smashes it into the stage floor. John Densmore throws his drum sticks down and walks off stage. Tentative plans for future concert dates are canceled.
The above description of this show is the one most often repeated but it doesn't entirely correlate with other accounts and Densmore makes no mention of storming off stage in his autobiography. Over the years, this performance has achieved mythic status and separating fact from fiction has been difficult. What can be said for certain is that during "Light My Fire" members of the band Kansas (including Dave Hope on bass and Don Montre on flute) join The Doors on stage; Jim plays a tambourine and hands out sparklers to the crowd. Many accounts also agree that during the last song of the evening Jim repeatedly smashes his mic stand into the stage, splintering the wood — damage which would remain unrepaired for years to come.
New information about this show has recently surfaced thanks to a former stage manager and accountant at the Warehouse named George Friedman who purports to own a two-track soundboard recording of the concert made by a soundman known as 'Stagehand Bob.' (So far I've been unable to determine Bob's actual name, but at least one Allman Brothers
soundboard recording from the Warehouse in 1971 is attributed to him.) Although fans have known about Friedman's claim for years, no credible evidence has ever been presented to support it until now. Friedman has finally made available several photographs of his reel, including an original ticket and a complete setlist for the show (see below).
I've chosen to use Friedman's setlist for this entry as it includes many of the same songs mentioned in other accounts (though not "Break On Through") and seems to match other 1970-era concerts fairly well, with the notable addition of several L.A. Woman
songs. "Roadhouse Blues" is also listed as the opening number, which makes sense for the 1970 tour, and the blues medley listed closely resembles other blues medleys the band is known to have performed around this time.
It's worth noting that the final song in Friedman's setlist, "The End," matches Ray Manzarek's own account of the show in his autobiography, where he writes: "[Jim] put his arm around Vince [Treanor]'s shoulder and just stood there, at the mic, looking out at the audience as we finished the final chorus of 'The End.' We would never play that song with Jim Morrison ever again." Friedman also tells me that the tape includes Warehouse partner Brian Glynn introducing the band, revealing that it likely captures the entire show from start to finish.
Most interestingly, Friedman's setlist includes a poem recited by Jim Morrison during the show that's listed as "Palace In The Canyon." While Jim did not have a poem with this title, he did have a poem called "Paris Journal" (possibly written during his first trip there in June 1970
and not in 1971) which includes the line "There's a palace in the canyon..." at the start of a stanza (The American Night,
p. 200). This seems a strange and very specific detail to have included in the setlist if this were some kind of elaborate hoax. The fact that Morrison's poem was not published until 1990 and the setlist is written on yellowed index cards that clearly show significant age (matching the reel box) lends some additional credence to its authenticity. Also, though I refer to it as "Friedman's setlist," I should clarify that the setlist cards were not in fact written by him but were already in the reel box when he got it
George Friedman recalls how he got involved with the Warehouse and his memories of The Doors' concert:
"Originally, I was the Baton Rouge rep for the Warehouse and Beaver Productions. I kinda morphed into stage manager which at the time meant I had to check who was allowed up the stairs to the dressing rooms. As the shows became more complex, stage crew chief Ray Compton took over (i.e. I got canned). Later on, I responded to a classified ad in the daily paper for an accountant job. I got the job thanks to Brian Glynn, one of my three bosses at the Warehouse. He was stuck with the accounting job and he hated it [and] turned it over to me."
"I was there for the show. It ran long [with] lots of long instrumental bridges and improvisation as the singer had passed out. Word is that Morrison had drank a whole case of beer and had swallowed some opium before going on stage. The whole band walked by me as my job was to watch the staircase to the stage but I was instructed to never approach band members. Kind of speak when spoken to situation."
If the recording turns out to be genuine, and I strongly suspect it may be given this new information, I hope an arrangement can be made with The Doors so that this concert can finally be heard. Friedman tells me that the reel has not been played since 1972 or 1973 and it has yet to be transferred to a digital format so no audio samples are available; but he assures me that the tape is safe and, when the time comes, he has a referral from Abbey Road Studios for qualified engineers who could do a professional transfer. Perhaps then, all doubts will be erased and the wheels set in motion for this recording to be heard by fans around the world.
In the meantime, anyone who attended this show and can shed some more light on the events of this evening is urged to contact me