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John Densmore

John Densmore
Publicity photo, 1968
Background information
Birth name John Paul Densmore
Born (1944-12-01) December 1, 1944
Maine, United States
Origin Los Angeles, California
Genres Psychedelic rock, acid rock, blues rock, hard rock, blues, jazz fusion
Occupation(s) Musician, drummer, filmmaker
Instruments Drums, percussion, flute, piano
Years active 1965–present
Labels Elektra
Associated acts The Doors, The Butts Band, Tribaljazz.
Website .com.johndensmorewww

John Paul Densmore (born December 1, 1944) is an American musician, songwriter, author and actor. He is best known as the drummer of the rock band The Doors.[1]


  • Early life and the Doors 1
  • Later career 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Early life and the Doors

Born in Los Angeles on December 1, 1944, John Paul Densmore grew up playing piano and later took up drums/percussion for the marching band at his school. He moved to California to attend college. Densmore attended Santa Monica City College and California State University, Northridge; at the latter he studied ethnic music under jazz cellist Fred Katz.[2]

He joined the Doors in 1965 and remained a member until the band's dissolution in 1973. According to Densmore's own book, he quit the band on one occasion in reaction to Jim Morrison's increasingly self-destructive behavior, although he returned the next day. He repeatedly suggested that the band stop touring, but Krieger and Manzarek were resistant to this notion. After the Doors' final, disastrous performance with Morrison in New Orleans on December 12, 1970, the band agreed to discontinue performing live. The New Orleans debacle would be the band's last public performance as a quartet.

Densmore allowed "Riders on the Storm" to be used to sell Pirelli Tyres, in the UK only. Densmore later stated that he "heard Jim's voice" in his ears and ended up donating the money earned to charity. In 2002, Densmore vetoed an offer by Cadillac for $15 million for "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" because of Morrison's vehement opposition to licensing the Doors' music for commercial use.[3]

Later career

Densmore formed a band with fellow ex-Doors Robby Krieger in 1973 called Butts Band. The band released two albums with two different lineups but disbanded in 1975. Densmore left rock and roll in the 1980s, moving to the world of dance as he performed with Bess Snyder and Co., touring the United States for two years.

In 1984, at La Mama Theatre in New York, he made his stage acting debut in Skins, a one-act play he had written. In 1985, he won the LA Weekly Theater Award for music with Methusalem, directed by Tim Robbins. The play Rounds, which he co-produced, won the NAACP award for theatre in 1987. In 1988, he played a feature role in Band Dreams and Bebop at the Gene Dynarski Theatre. He developed and performed a one-man piece from the short story, The King of Jazz, at the Wallenboyd Theatre in 1989. With Adam Ant, he co-produced Be Bop A Lula at Theatre Theatre in 1992. He has acted in numerous TV shows, most memorably as himself in the show Square Pegs, working as a drummer for Johnny Slash's band Open 24 Hours. His film credits include: Get Crazy with Malcolm McDowell, Dudes directed by Penelope Spheeris, and The Doors directed by Oliver Stone. In the latter film he was portrayed by actor Kevin Dillon.

Densmore wrote his best-selling autobiography, Riders On The Storm (1990),[4] about his life and the time he spent with Morrison and the Doors. In the first chapter Densmore describes the solemn day on which he and the band finally visited Morrison's grave[5] around three years after he had died. As the drummer and an influential member of the Doors, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He worked as a technical adviser on the 1991 film The Doors,[6] and was very impressed with Val Kilmer's performance as Morrison. Also, John Densmore appeared in an episode of "Beverly Hills 90210" in 1992, in Series 2, Episode 23. John plays Ben, Dylan's sponsor.

Densmore appears alongside Krieger and Manzarek in 2012's RE:GENERATION, a documentary directed by Amir Bar-Lev. It features Densmore collaborating on a new song with Skrillex.

In 2013 Densmore released The Doors Unhinged, a book covering his legal battle with Krieger and Manzarek over the use of the name the Doors and Densmore's veto over a 2003 offer by Cadillac to buy the rights to the Doors' music.[3]

In 2015 Densmore backed the U.S. presidential run of Bernie Sanders.[7]


  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "Biography: John Densmore".  
  2. ^ Densmore, John (1990). Riders on the storm: my life with Jim Morrison and the Doors (1st ed.). New York City:  
  3. ^ a b Rolling Stone: The Doors' John Densmore Talks About the Band's Ugly, Six-Year Feud
  4. ^ Densmore, John (1990). Riders on the storm: my life with Jim Morrison and the Doors. 
  5. ^ Densmore, John (1990). Riders on the storm: my life with Jim Morrison and the Doors. p. 1. It smelled like rain. I had hoped it would storm. Then we wouldn't have had to see his grave. My heartbeat was increasing. I looked over at Robby, Danny, and Herve in the car as we approached the cemetery. 
  6. ^ John Densmore at the Internet Movie Database.
  7. ^ Washington Times, Oct. 26, 2015

External links

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