Original Unperformed Replacement Lyric Recently Unearthed in Sullivan Archives
50 years ago tonight, on Sunday, September 17, 1967, the Doors shocked Ed Sullivan and CBS by refusing to change the word “higher” while performing their #1 hit, “Light My Fire”.
Recalled Doors’ drummer John Densmore, “'You will never do this show again,' Ed fumed after we'd directly disobeyed his censorship requirements. Jim turned to him and remarked, 'Hey, that's okay - we just did The Ed Sullivan Show.'”
Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger’s reaction was. “We thought they were joking - who were they kidding? Wanting us to change the lyrics on the number one song in America?? We decided to just do the song as-is and maybe they would forget all about it. What could they do? After all, it was live television! So, yeah, we never played the Ed Sullivan show again. But we didn't care.”
It may seem ridiculous today, but their action created an absolute furor and media firestorm. Almost anything goes on today’s television, but America’s prudishness about drugs, sexuality and “the counterculture” in the 1960s was extreme by modern standards. In fact, just a decade earlier, Lucy and Desi had to sleep in twin beds, and the word “pregnant” couldn’t be uttered on television. “Light My Fire” was not the first time The Ed Sullivan Show, a Sunday night viewing ritual in American homes, had censored pop music performers — Elvis and The Rolling Stones included. The Doors’ famous moment was dramatized in the 1991 Oliver Stone film The Doors.
As Doors’ co-founder and keyboardist Ray Manzarek explained in an interview filmed in 1991, Jim Morrison and his bandmates decided they would not buckle to the network censors. Manzarek promised the CBS executive just before the performance that they would go ahead and replace the offending lyric. But they would be performing live, so The Doors knew that they could get away with singing the controversial song as it was written. In the process, the Doors won their battle with CBS and made television history.
[What??? - not, "Girl, your love makes me perspire"??? ... "Can't wait till Old Ed retires"??? ... "Changing words makes me a liar" ... "JFK, they did conspire" ... "Is it the red or blue wire?" ... God, there are SO many other options!!! -kk]
JAM, Inc’s Jeff Jampol, manager of the Doors, and of the Morrison Estate, was also surprised by the discovery of the absurd suggested replacement lyrics. “It’s fascinating to get an inside peek at how television, the media and corporate culture continually conspired to censor art and free expression, all in the name of selling more cereal, while at the same time, they were co-opting pop culture themselves (and definitely not for the betterment of art). But even more scintillating to me is to take a look back at a time when artists took a stand, not only for their art, but for their ideals and for freedom of expression – their own, as well as others’. It’s a refreshing reminder and contrast to so many of today’s mainstream artists who seemingly refuse to take a stand, to speak out against injustice, or who are unwilling to put their wallet (and sometimes, their entire career) on the line to take a stand for anything, let alone freedom of artistic expression. Thank God for Jim Morrison; thank God for The Doors.”
To get a behind the scenes look at the historic moment and to access more details about this story, go to www.EdSullivan.com. You will be able to view clips from “Light My Fire” and you can also watch Ray Manzarek’s interview where he explains what went down backstage. One can also check out the altered lyrics and the director’s shooting script. Finally, the story can be told.
The Ed Sullivan Show gained notoriety for two other high profile censored rock moments – when Elvis Presley was filmed from the “waist up only” on January 6, 1957, and eight months before the Doors’ appearance, when the Rolling Stones were pressured to change the lyrics to their hit, “Let’s Spend the Night Together” to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.” Mick Jagger also made TV history by rolling his eyes for the home audience during the band’s forcibly-altered performance.
The Doors remain one of the most beloved and influential rock bands of all time. They have over 16 million followers on Facebook alone, and every year their records continue to sell in the millions.
With an intoxicating, genre-blending sound, provocative and uncompromising songs, and the mesmerizing power of singer Jim Morrison's poetry and presence, The Doors had a transformative impact not only on popular music but on popular culture. The Doors' arrival on the rock scene in 1967 marked not only the start of a string of hit singles and albums that would become stone classics, but also of something much bigger - a new and deeper relationship between creators and audience. The Los Angeles quartet relentlessly challenged, confronted and inspired their fans. Though they've had scores of imitators, there's never been another band quite like them. And 50 years after their debut album, The Doors' music and legacy are more influential than ever before. www.TheDoors.com
The Doors: The Singles - a brand-new collection of all the band’s singles and b-sides available together for the first time as a two-CD collection, an expanded two-CD/Blu-ray version and a limited-edition vinyl version featuring twenty 7-inch singles.
Available now at http://bit.ly/2wWWnUd
The Ed Sullivan Show is the longest running primetime variety show in American television history. It ran on CBS for 23 years and is currently broadcast daily on the Decades Channel, a digital broadcast network, which is a joint venture between CBS and Weigel Broadcasting. www.EdSullivan.com
Be sure to check out our daily calendar page for more on this memorable night of rock and roll television!
>>I'm up for taking votes but my guess is they'll come in exactly the way you've listed them here. If taken in the true spirit of "Majority Rules," then the set list should be golden. And, I would encourage you guys to do some shows outside the realm of Cornerstones so you can have it both ways as a means of satisfying EVERYONE in the band ... think how many more cool songs could be added. (James had suggested "Hey Joe" and has even written a new track ... honestly within the context of a stand-alone Cryan' Shames show, the prospects are limitless! And I'll betcha fans would LOVE to see it!) But, for the sake of Cornerstones, put your very best foot forward ... and give the fans what they came to hear. (kk)
I have had requests for Requiem For The Masses during my Saturday night show. A caller told me recently that the only reason they knew that song was because a bar they used to frequent had Never My Love on the jukebox and someone used to play Requiem instead of the bigger hit side. That happened to me several times. I would plow my way to the jukebox and look for the read out, only to find it was a b-side. There are younger listeners today that have no idea what was a hit and what was not. They find songs they like on line. A young man recently wanted to hear Otis Redding's song My Girl. He listened to the song on youtube and did not even know the Temptations had the hit version.
Phil Nee / WRCO
Furvus of The Fifth Estate here!
I wanted to do a little piece for the '67 page on The Fifth Estate (it was exactly 50 years ago that we just finished a national tour with the Buckinghams and all), mainly about our struggles with having a "hit" follow up to "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead."
As some may recall, we did The Witch on a dare and a bet from some folks at a NYC party that it couldn't be made into a hit. Remember that we were basically a quirky, underground, rock and roll dance band out of Greenwich Village. But we liked doing weird stuff. Well, we won the bet!! Now what next to follow-up something like that!!?? AND that was one pretty good party as I barely recall. AND record as well!!
While we were out on tour with The Bucks, Easies, Music Explosion, Happenings, Dio, and Pitney, our record company released as a follow-up another tune off the album - "The Goofin' Song." Not a bad choice really for the Summer Of Love - kind of a nice day in the park, layin' on the grass, takin' the sun, havin' fun kind of thing. BUT it wasn't a big hit. It got airplay and it helped us. But all the programmers seemed to want from us was another Ding Dong! Well, there just aren't that many Ding Dongs layin' around out there if you know what I mean.
But THEN on the next one we came pretty close, exceeded Ding Dong in musicianship and vocals in my opinion, with "Heigh Ho." Actually another tune which was kind of put on us to do by the record company. We recorded it just now, 50 years ago, as we got back from the Pitney tour. The band always called it "High Ho" just to give ourselves a little something to go on and laugh about in doing this also rather insane thing. BUT the band had always done insane things, very quirky things and this fit quite well actually. It made the top 40 in Canada and did well in other places around the world.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN2HTB1-L4Y&list=PLoRJKjaf7A2gkhijnldymzLFWjHqIyDEw&index=17 We had some good success with that one, but we liked it better when we got more of our own original rocking stuff out which was the real natural place for the band.
We had another US charting tune in 1968 with "Do Drop Inn." "That's Love" did particularly well in Brazil. And one of my favorites of all of ours, "Morning Morning," was a hit in Australia. So we did rather well considering we were a Village underground band who never really had any big hit making aspirations. We were basically happy just putting out our versions of rock and roll dance music as we liked it.
Also, I wanted to let you know that that Rock and Roll History of Connecticut book I said was coming just came out. They had asked me to write the Foreword and there are extensive 5E interviews in there.
AND we are the only band to make the cover!!! :) Right under Weezer at the top, and standing on Allen Freed's door step in Stamford, CT, our home town. Well, we were #1 on CTcharts and all around there at the time.