An American Prayer is the ninth and final studio album by the American rock band the Doors. Following the death of Jim Morrison and the band's break-up, the surviving members of the Doors reconvened to set several of Morrison's spoken word recordings to music. The album features Morrison posthumously, who employs spoken-word poetry.
In 1978, seven years after lead singer Jim Morrison died and five years after the remaining members of the band broke up, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore reunited and recorded backing tracks over Morrison's poetry (originally recorded in 1969 and 1970). Other pieces of music and spoken word recorded by the Doors and Morrison were also used in the audio collage, such as dialogue from Morrison's film HWY: An American Pastoral and snippets from jam sessions.
Prior to leaving for Paris, Morrison had approached composer Lalo Schifrin as a possible contributor for the music tracks meant to accompany the poetry, with no participation from any of the other Doors members. Additionally, he had developed some conception of the album cover art work by January 1971, and was in correspondence with artist T. E. Breitenbach to design this cover in the form of a triptych.
The album includes a composite live version of "Roadhouse Blues", splicing together performances at New York City's Felt Forum and Detroit's Cobo Hall, both captured during the Doors' 1970 Roadhouse Blues Tour. This version of the song later appeared on the In Concert compilation.
Despite managing a RIAAplatinum certification in the US, the album received mixed reviews and still divides critics. When the album was originally released, longtime Doors' producer Paul A. Rothchild labeled the album a "rape of Jim Morrison." Rothchild claimed that he had heard all of the reels of master tapes from both the 1969 and the 1970 poetry sessions, insisting that the three remaining Doors failed to realize Morrison's original intent for an audio presentation of the poetry.
John Haeny (who recorded the original session tapes with Morrison in 1970 and safeguarded them before the project was resurrected as An American Prayer) insisted that the album "was made by those people who were closest to Jim, both personally and artistically" and "everyone had the best intentions," stating: "Jim would be pleased. Jim would have understood our motivation and appreciated our dedication and heartfelt handling of his work."