Morrison Hotel

Morrison Hotel is the fifth studio album by American rock band the Doors, released on February 9, 1970, by Elektra Records. After the use of brass and string arrangements recommended by producer Paul A. Rothchild on their previous album, The Soft Parade, the Doors returned to their blues-rock style and this album was largely seen as a return to form for the band. The group entered Elektra Sound Recorders in Los Angeles in November 1969 to record the album which is divided into two separately titled sides: "Hard Rock Cafe" and "Morrison Hotel". Session bassists Lonnie Mack and Ray Neapolitan featured on the album's songs.

Morrison Hotel
The Doors - Morrison Hotel.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 9, 1970 (1970-02-09)
RecordedNovember 1969 – January 1970
StudioElektra Sound Recorders, Los Angeles
ProducerPaul A. Rothchild
The Doors chronology
The Soft Parade
Morrison Hotel
Absolutely Live
Singles from Morrison Hotel
  1. "You Make Me Real" / "Roadhouse Blues"
    Released: February 1970

The album reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200, and performed better overseas than the preceding album (it was the group's highest-charting studio album in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at No. 12). The accompanying "You Make Me Real" / "Roadhouse Blues" single peaked at No. 50 in May 1970 on the Billboard 100 chart. The cover photo was taken by Henry Diltz.


On March 1, 1969, Jim Morrison performed while intoxicated at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove, Florida, in front of a crowd of nearly 12,000; he was charged for his performance and behaviour with indecent exposure, on April 4. The incident negatively reflected on the band's publicity, sparking a "March for Decency" at the Miami Orange Bowl.[2]

Consequently, twenty-five dates on the band's next tour were cancelled, and their records were blacklisted from radio airplay, resulting in the band abandoning the rest of their potential tour, costing what Densmore characterized as "a million dollars in gigs."[3] Nevertheless, the band gradually regained momentum by playing concerts throughout the rest of the year, including the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival.[4] In July, the Doors released their fourth album, The Soft Parade, a heavily orchestrated affair that augmented the band's sound with horns and strings. Around early 1969, Morrison traded in his stage leathers for more conventional attire, grew a beard and gained weight as he attempted to live down his "Lizard King" image; however, his worsening alcoholism often undermined his efforts.[5]

In November, a drunken Morrison caused such a disturbance on a flight to Phoenix, Arizona to see a Rolling Stones concert that he was charged with a new skyjacking law that carried up to a $10,000 fine and a ten-year prison sentence.[3]

Recording and compositionEdit

Morrison Hotel's back to basics approach largely stemmed from the group's dismay over the protracted sessions for The Soft Parade, which took nine months to record and cost $86,000 (equal to $606,917 today), far more expensive than any previous Doors record.[3] The band had also been stung by the critical reception to the record. On this album, there is a slight steer toward blues, which would be fully explored by the band on their next album L.A. Woman. Morrison Hotel was recorded between November 1969 and January 1970 with the exception of "Indian Summer", which was recorded in August 1966 during sessions for The Doors,[6] while "Waiting for the Sun" was actually written during the sessions for the band's third album.[7]

Although Morrison Hotel contains no major hit singles, it features some of the band's most popular songs, including "Roadhouse Blues" and "Peace Frog", which would go on to become staples of classic rock radio. "Roadhouse Blues" took two days to record (November 4–5, 1969) with Paul Rothchild striving for perfection. Several takes from these sessions were included on the 2006 remastered album, with Morrison repeating the phrase "Money beats soul" over and over again.[8] The sessions only took off on the second day, when distinguished blues guitarist Lonnie Mack (also signed to Elektra Records) joined in on bass[9] and former Lovin' Spoonful bandleader John Sebastian (appearing under the pseudonym G. Puglese due to the constraint of his Reprise Records recording contract)[10] joined in on harmonica. Over the course of the session, keyboardist Ray Manzarek switched from his Wurlitzer electric piano to a tack piano previously used on the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations".[10]

The hook of "Peace Frog" is a distorted G5 chord played three times by Krieger, followed by a brief percussive wah-wah effect.[11] Morrison, who took the words from a notebook entitled Abortion Stories, begins nearly every line with the word "blood", often referring to "Blood in the streets".[12] A brief musical interlude is next, followed by a guitar solo, and a spoken word verse ("Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleeding"). The song ends with a final chord as it segues into the next track, "Blue Sunday".[13]

"The Spy" and "Queen of the Highway" celebrate Morrison's intense but troubled relationship with longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson. Originally "The Spy" was called "Spy in the House of Love", as shown on the Master Reel Control File, a line borrowed from A Spy in the House of Love, a novel by Anaïs Nin published in 1954.[14] Both songs are tinged with ambivalence; on "The Spy" Morrison cautions, "I know your deepest, secret fears", while on "Queen of the Highway" he sardonically concludes, "I hope it can continue a little while longer". According to the 1980 Doors biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, it was during the Morrison Hotel sessions that Morrison and Courson had a violent argument after she drank his bottle of liquor so he could not drink it, with engineer Bruce Botnick recalling: "So here were the two of them, completely out of their minds and crying. He started shaking her violently. I think he was putting me on. She was crying out of control, telling him he shouldn't drink anymore and that's why she drank it. And I'm cleaning up and I said, "Hey man, it's pretty late." He looked up, stopped shaking her, said, "Yeah, right", hugged her and they walked out arm in arm ... he'd always give you a funny look afterward, to see your reaction."[15]

Album coverEdit

A photo of the Morrison Hotel building in 2012, when it was restored.

The cover photo was taken by Henry Diltz at the Morrison Hotel on South Hope Street in Downtown Los Angeles. The band weren't given permission to photograph, so did so while the clerk was called away from the desk. The band jumped right behind the windows and hit their places without shuffling as Diltz took the shot.[16] The rear cover features a photograph of the Hard Rock Café at nearby 300 East 5th Street. The building is now home to a convenience store. It has been vacant for years, but a new development plan announced in 2018 may restore the building.[17] Thirteen years later parts of Michael Jackson's music video for the song "Beat It" were also filmed inside the former Hard Rock Café on 5th Street.[18]

Release and receptionEdit

Initial releaseEdit

Upon its release, Morrison Hotel was seen by many as a comeback for the Doors following the critical failure of The Soft Parade.[19] Although the accompanying "You Make Me Real" / "Roadhouse Blues" single only peaked at No. 50 in May 1970 despite strong FM radio play of the latter song,[13] the album was immediately certified gold by RIAA in February 1970 (the band's fifth consecutive album certification, a record among American hard rock bands of the era) before reaching No. 4 on the Billboard album chart in March during a 27-week stay. Additionally, it became the band's highest-charting studio album in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at No. 12.

Dave Marsh, the editor of Creem magazine, called the album "the most horrifying rock and roll I have ever heard. When they're good, they're simply unbeatable. I know this is the best record I've listened to ... so far",[20] while Rock Magazine called it "without any doubt their ballsiest (and best) album to date".[20] Circus praised it as "possibly the best album yet from the Doors" and "good, hard, evil rock ... and one of the best albums released this decade".[20] Rolling Stone critic Lester Bangs wrote a mixed review, praising the opener "Roadhouse Blues", but criticizing the album's continuation: "It’s really a shame, too, because somehow one held high expectations for this album and wanted so badly to believe it would be good that one was afraid to listen to it when it was finally released."[21]

During this period, the de facto blacklisting continued to persist in more socially conservative markets, particularly the Deep South; consequently, the band's 1970 American tour itinerary was largely confined to the Northeast, West Coast and more progressive Midwestern cities amid ongoing (albeit more sporadic) cancellations, including planned concerts in Salt Lake City and at the Jesuit-operated Fairfield University.[22]

Retrospective reviewsEdit

Professional ratings
Retrospective professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic     [24]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[25]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [26]
Slant Magazine     [27]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [28]

In his 1981 retrospective review, Robert Christgau rated Morrison Hotel "B+" on an A+ to F scale. He expressed his preference of the A side (Hard Rock Café) over the B side (Morrison Hotel), both lyrically and musically. He noted that the "band is rocking tighter than it ever has, Robbie Krieger's phrasing keeps things moving, and Morrison's gliding vocal presence–arty and self-absorbed though it may be–provides focus."[25] The Rolling Stone Album Guide gave a rating of full five stars out of five, and praised it as the Doors "most cohesive record," and noted that aside "from the throwaway grunter 'Maggie McGill,' every song was masterful—and the band swings tougher and easier than they ever had before."[26]

More recently, Thom Jurek of AllMusic expressed that the Doors "employed them to some degree on all of their albums, but never as consistently, adeptly, or provocatively as they did on Morrison Hotel, with absolutely stunning results."[24] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine gave the record three stars out of five; he praised Jim Morrison's vocals as "cleaner and clearer" than before, and hailed particularly "Peace Frog" as one of greatest songs in the Doors catalogue.[27] Morrison Hotel holds currently 78/100 approval rating based on 5 critic reviews on Metacritic.[23]

Track listingEdit

Original albumEdit

Details are taken from the 1970 Elektra Records album and may differ from other sources.[29]

Side one: Hard Rock Café
1."Roadhouse Blues"Jim Morrison, music by the Doors4:04
2."Waiting for the Sun"Morrison3:58
3."You Make Me Real"Morrison2:50
4."Peace Frog"Morrison, Krieger2:52
5."Blue Sunday"Morrison2:08
6."Ship of Fools"Morrison, Krieger3:06
Side two: Morrison Hotel
1."Land Ho!"Morrison, Krieger4:08
2."The Spy"Morrison4:15
3."Queen of the Highway"Morrison, Krieger2:47
4."Indian Summer"Morrison, Krieger2:33
5."Maggie M'Gill"Morrison, music by the Doors4:24


40th Anniversary bonus tracks[10]
12."Talking Blues"Morrison0:59
13."Roadhouse Blues" (takes 1–3, recorded November 4, 1969)Morrison, music by the Doors8:47
14."Roadhouse Blues" (take 6, recorded November 4, 1969)Morrison, music by the Doors9:26
15."Carol" (recorded November 4, 1969)Chuck Berry0:56
16."Roadhouse Blues" (take 1, recorded November 5, 1969)Morrison, music by the Doors4:32
17."Money Beats Soul" (recorded November 5, 1969)Morrison1:04
18."Roadhouse Blues" (takes 13-15, recorded November 5, 1969)Morrison, music by the Doors6:21
19."Peace Frog / Blue Sunday" (false starts & dialogue)Morrison, Krieger2:00
20."The Spy" (version 2)Morrison3:48
21."Queen of the Highway" (jazz version)Morrison, Krieger3:36
50th Anniversary second CD: Mysterious Union – bonus tracks[30]
12."Queen of the Highway" (take 1; recorded November 15, 1968)Morrison, Krieger 
13."Queen of the Highway" (various takes; recorded November 15, 1968)Morrison, Krieger6:23
14."Queen of the Highway" (take 44, recorded November 15, 1968)Morrison, Krieger 
15."Queen of the Highway" (take 12, recorded January 16, 1969)Morrison, Krieger 
16."Queen of the Highway" (take 14 - Krieger guitar overdub, recorded January 16, 1969)Morrison, Krieger 
17."Queen of the Highway" (take 1)Morrison, Krieger 
18."Queen of the Highway" (takes 5, 6 & 9)Morrison, Krieger 
19."Queen of the Highway" (take 14)Morrison, Krieger 
20."I Will Never Be Untrue"Morrison1:21
21."Queen of the Highway" (take unknown)Morrison, Krieger 
22."Roadhouse Blues" (take 14, recorded November 4, 1969)Morrison 
23."Money (That’s What I Want)" (recorded November 4, 1969)Janie Bradford, Berry Gordy 
24."Rock Me" (recorded November 4, 1969)Muddy Waters 
25."Roadhouse Blues" (takes 6 & 7, recorded November 5, 1969)Morrison 
26."Roadhouse Blues" (take 8, recorded November 5, 1969)Morrison 
27."Roadhouse Blues" (takes 1 & 2)Morrison5:00
28."Roadhouse Blues" (takes 5, 6 & 14)Morrison 
29."Peace Frog / Blue Sunday" (take 4)Morrison, Krieger5:43
30."Peace Frog" (take 12)Morrison, Krieger 


Details are taken from the 2007 Rhino Records CD 40th Anniversary Edition liner notes with Bruce Botnick's and David Fricke's accompanying essays and may differ from other sources.[10]

The Doors

Additional musicians

  • Ray Neapolitan – bass guitar[31]
  • Lonnie Mack – bass guitar on "Roadhouse Blues" and "Maggie M'Gill"
  • John Sebastian (as "G. Puglese") – harmonica on "Roadhouse Blues"



Chart (1970) Peak
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[32] 6
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[33] 13
UK Albums (OCC)[34] 12
US Billboard 200[35] 4
Chart (2020) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[36] 124
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[37] 12
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[38] 83
Chart (2021) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[39] 70
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[40] 40


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[41] Gold 25,000*
Australia (ARIA)[42] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[43] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[44] Platinum 300,000*
Italy (FIMI)[45] Gold 25,000 
Poland (ZPAV)[46] Platinum 100,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[47] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[48] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[49] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[50] Platinum 1,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Buskin, Richard. "Classic Tracks: The Doors 'Strange Days'". Sound On Sound. Retrieved May 18, 2021. Engineer and producer Bruce Botnick recorded some of the greatest artifacts of West Coast psychedelia, among them the first five albums by the Doors.
  2. ^ "Jim Morrison Is Charged with Lewd Behavior at a Miami Concert". March 5, 1969. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 247.
  4. ^ Weidman 2011, p. 97.
  5. ^ Riordan 1991, pp. 313–316.
  6. ^ "The Doors' Debut Album: Things You Didn't Know". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  7. ^ Kubernik, Harvey. "Ray Manzarek on the Doors' 6 Studio Albums: The 'Lost' Interviews". Best Classic Bands. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  8. ^ Marcus 2012, p. 100.
  9. ^ Wawzenek, Bryan (April 13, 2015). "The Secret History of the Doors' Bass Players". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d Botnick, Bruce; Fricke, David (2007). Morrison Hotel (40th Anniversary edition CD booklet). The Doors. Rhino Records. R2 101173.
  11. ^ Bell, Max. "The 20 Greatest Doors Songs". Louder Sound. Retrieved May 1, 2021.
  12. ^ Mayhew, Jess (June 17, 2016). "Robby Krieger Explains the Story of 'Peace Frog'". Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Weidman 2011, p. 200.
  14. ^ Weidman 2011, p. 198.
  15. ^ Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 274.
  16. ^ Densmore 1991, pp. 234–237, 244.
  17. ^ "Followup: Was the name "Hard Rock Cafe" inspired by the Doors?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  18. ^ Cherry, Jim. "The Doors Michael Jackson Connection". Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  19. ^ Weidman 2011, p. 159.
  20. ^ a b c Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 284.
  21. ^ Bangs, Lester (April 30, 1970). "The Doors Morrison Hotel > Album Review". Rolling Stone. No. 57. p. 53. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  22. ^ Lifton, Dave (May 9, 2015). "How the Doors Got Banned from Detroit's Cobo Arena". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  23. ^ a b "Morrison Hotel [50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] by The Doors Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Retrieved September 12, 2021.
  24. ^ a b Jurek, Thom. "The Doors: Morrison Hotel – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  25. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: D". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 24, 2019 – via
  26. ^ a b "The Doors: Album Guide". Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  27. ^ a b Cinquemani, Sal (April 18, 2007). "The Doors: Morrison Hotel". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  28. ^ "The Doors Morrison Hotel". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  29. ^ Morrison Hotel (Liner notes). The Doors. Elektra Records. 1970. Back cover. EKS-75007.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  30. ^ "Morrison Hotel 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition [2-CD+1-LP]". Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  31. ^ Manzarek 1998, p. 284.
  32. ^ " – The Doors – Morrison Hotel" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  33. ^ " – The Doors – Morrison Hotel". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  34. ^ "Doors | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  35. ^ "The Doors Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  36. ^ " – The Doors – Morrison Hotel" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  37. ^ "Album Top 40 slágerlista – 2020. 42. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  38. ^ " – The Doors – Morrison Hotel". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  39. ^ " – The Doors – Morrison Hotel" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved November 14, 2021.
  40. ^ "Portuguese charts portal (24/2021)". Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  41. ^ "Austrian album certifications – The Doors – Morrison Hotel" (in German). IFPI Austria.
  42. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1996 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association.
  43. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – Morrison Hotel". Music Canada.
  44. ^ "French album certifications – Doors – Morrison Hotel" (in French). InfoDisc. Select DOORS and click OK. 
  45. ^ "Italian album certifications – The Doors – Morrison Hotel" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Select "2021" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Morrison Hotel" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Album e Compilation" under "Sezione".
  46. ^ "Wyróżnienia – Platynowe płyty CD - Archiwum - Przyznane w 1980 roku" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry.
  47. ^ "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1991–1995". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Año A Año. ISBN 8480486392.
  48. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (The Doors; 'The Morrison Hotel')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  49. ^ "British album certifications – Doors – Morrison Hotel". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Morrison Hotel in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  50. ^ "American album certifications – The Doors – Morrison Hotel". Recording Industry Association of America.


External linksEdit