Riders on the Storm

"Riders on the Storm" is a song by American rock band the Doors. It was released as the second single from their sixth studio album and last with singer Jim Morrison, L.A. Woman, in June 1971. It reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.,[3][4] number 22 on the UK Singles Chart[5] and number seven in the Netherlands.[6]

"Riders on the Storm"
Single by the Doors
from the album L.A. Woman
B-side"The Changeling"
ReleasedJune 1971 (1971-06)
RecordedDecember 1970
  • 7:14 (album version)[1]
  • 4:35 (single version)[2]
The Doors singles chronology
"Love Her Madly"
"Riders on the Storm"
"Tightrope Ride"

Background and compositionEdit

"Riders on the Storm" has been classified as a psychedelic rock,[7] jazz rock,[8] art rock song,[9] and a precursor of gothic music.[10][11] According to guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, it was inspired by the country song "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend", written by Stan Jones and popularized by Vaughn Monroe.[12] The lyrics were written and brought in to the rehearsal by Morrison. Portion of the lyrics are referring to a hitchhiker killer, while Manzarek noted that some lines express Morrison's love to his companion Pamela Courson.[13] The track is notated in the key of E Minor;[14] the main keyboard riff descends throughout the pitches of Dorian Mode scale,[15] and features a progression of i–IV–i7–IV.[16]

It is popularly believed that "Riders on the Storm" is the song that longtime Doors producer Paul A. Rothchild disparaged as "cocktail music", precipitating his departure from the L.A. Woman sessions, as corroborated by guitarist Robby Krieger.[12][17] Rothchild himself denied this claim, stating that he actually applied this epithet to "Love Her Madly".[18][19] Following Rothchild's departure, longtime engineer Bruce Botnick was selected to take over production duties, alongside the Doors themselves.[20]

"Riders on the Storm" was recorded at the Doors Workshop in December 1970 with the assistance of Botnick. Morrison recorded his main vocals and then whispered the lyrics over them to create an echo effect.[21] It was the last song recorded by all four members of the Doors, as well as Morrison's last recorded song to be released in his lifetime.[12] The single was released in June 1971, entering the Billboard Hot 100 the week ending July 3, 1971, the same week that Morrison died.[3][4]

Heidegger's influenceEdit

Speaking with Krieger and Manzarek, the German philosopher Thomas Collmer argues that the line "Into this world we're thrown" recalls Heidegger's concept of thrownness (human existence as a basic state). In 1963 at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Jim Morrison heard a lecture which was influential for him, in which was discussed the philosophers who critically dealt with the philosophical tradition, including Friedrich Nietzsche and also Martin Heidegger.[22] In 2009, Simon Critchley dedicated his column in The Guardian to Heidegger's thrownness and explained it using the aforementioned verse of the song.[23] The connection between the thrownness into the world and a dog's life was anticipated by the anti-Heideggerian author Ernst Bloch in his main work The Principle of Hope (1954–9).[24][25]


Frequently listed as among the Doors' greatest songs,[26][27][28][29] "Riders on the Storm" has remained an play-option on rock radio playlists.[30]

Doors' drummer, John Densmore, released a book in 1990 entitled Riders on the Storm,[31] detailing the story of his life and his times with the group. In November 2009, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame under the category Rock (single).[32][33] The main concept of the 1986 film, The Hitcher, was based on the lyrical content of "Riders on the Storm".[11]


The Doors

Additional musicians

Charts and certificationsEdit


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[48]
sales since 2009
Gold 35,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[49]
sales since 2004
Silver 200,000 

  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Annabel Lamb versionEdit

"Riders on the Storm"
Single by Annabel Lamb
from the album Once Bitten
B-side"No Cure"
ReleasedAugust 25, 1983 (1983-08-25)
GenreNew wave
  • David Anderle
  • Wally Brill
Annabel Lamb singles chronology
"Riders on the Storm"
"The Flame"

In 1983, Annabel Lamb recorded a studio version of the song.[5] It was released as a single from her debut album Once Bitten which peaked at number 27 on the UK Singles Chart.[50] She performed the song later that year on Top of the Pops.[51]


Chart (1983) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[52] 98
Ireland (IRMA)[44] 16
UK Singles Chart[50] 27
Swedish Singles Chart[53] 18


  1. ^ L.A. Woman (Liner notes). The Doors. Elektra Records. 1971. Back cover. EKS-75011.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. ^ "Riders on the Storm" / "Changeling" (single label). The Doors. Elektra Records. 1971. EKS-45738-B.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  3. ^ a b c "The Doors Riders on the Storm Chart History | Hot 100". Billboard. September 4, 1971. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Disco Top 100". Billboard. Vol. 83 no. 36. September 4, 1971. p. 49. ISSN 0006-2510.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Riders on the Storm – Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "The Doors – Riders on the Storm" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  7. ^ "Forty Years on, Jim Morrison Cult Thrives at Paris Cemetery". The Independent. July 2, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2017. The Doors, who broke fresh ground in psychedelic rock with such hits as 'Riders on the Storm', [etc.]
  8. ^ Whatley, Jack (October 8, 2019). "The Story Behind the Song: Ray Manzarek Explains the Doors Anthem 'Riders on the Storm'". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Pipes, Rusty (January 2002). "Part 4 of the Golden Age of Art Rock". Cosmik Debris Magazine. Archived from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  10. ^ van Elferen, Isabella (2007). Nostalgia Or Perversion? Gothic Rewriting from the Eighteenth Century Until the Present Day. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 127. ISBN 978-1282191198.
  11. ^ a b Baddeley, Gavin (2021). Goth Chic: A Connoisseur's Guide To Dark Culture. La Vergne: Plexus Publishing. p. 320. ISBN 978-0859657082.
  12. ^ a b c "The Making of ... The Doors' Riders on the Storm". Uncut. September 18, 2014.
  13. ^ The Doors (2011). Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman [Extras]. Eagle Rock Entertainment.
  14. ^ "Digital Sheet Music – The Doors – Riders on the Storm". Musicnotes.com. Sony/ATV Music Publishing. 23 July 2012. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  15. ^ Biamonte, Nicole (2011). Pop-Culture Pedagogy in the Music Classroom: Teaching Tools from American Idol to YouTube. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 93. ISBN 978-0810876637.
  16. ^ Spicer, Mark (December 21, 2011). Rock Music. Farnham Burlington, VT: Ashgate. p. 229. ISBN 978-0754629566.
  17. ^ Giles, Jeff. "Revisiting the Doors' Last Album with Jim Morrison, L.A. Woman". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  18. ^ Riordan, James; Prochnicky, Jerry (2006). Break On Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison. First Harper. pp. 420–423. ISBN 978-0-688-11915-7.
  19. ^ Jackson, Blair (July 3, 1981). "Bam Interview - Paul Rothchild". Waiting for the Sun Archives.
  20. ^ "Bruce Botnick: The Doors, MC5, Pet Sounds". Tapeop.com. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  21. ^ Smith, Rob. "The Doors' L.A. Woman: The Story Behind Each Track". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  22. ^ (in German) Gerstenmeyer, Heinz (2001). The Doors - Sounds for Your Soul - Die Musik Der Doors. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-521-89615-3.
  23. ^ Critchley, Simon (June 29, 2009). "Being and Time, Part 4: Thrown Into This World". The Guardian. Manchester. Retrieved May 27, 2013. As Jim Morrison intoned many decades ago, 'Into this world we're thrown'. Thrownness (Geworfenheit).
  24. ^ Korstvedt, Benjamin M. (2010). Listening for Utopia in Ernst Bloch's Musical Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-521-89615-3.
  25. ^ Bloch, Ernst (1954). The Principle of Hope. 1. p. 3. [Hope] will not tolerate a dog's life which feels itself only passively thrown into What Is, which is not seen through, even wretchedly recognized. In German: "Sie erträgt kein Hundeleben, das sich ins Seiende nur passiv geworfen fühlt, in undurchschautes, gar jämmerlich anerkanntes."
  26. ^ G. Gaar, Gillian (March 14, 2017). "The 15 Best Songs by the Doors". Paste Magazine. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  27. ^ "The Doors Top 10 Tracks of All Time". WhatCulture. p. 5. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  28. ^ Brayton, Rebecca. "Top 10 the Doors Songs". WatchMojo. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  29. ^ Bell, Max. "The Top 20 Greatest Doors Songs". Louder Sound. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  30. ^ Hochman, Steve (August 3, 2003). "21st Century Doors Make Grave Decision". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  31. ^ Densmore, John (1990). Riders on the Storm. My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors (1st ed.). New York City: Delacorte Press. ISBN 978-0-385-30033-9.
  32. ^ "Beach Boys Inducted Into Grammy Hall of Fame". Uncut. November 25, 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2020. Note: Scroll down to "The 2010 Grammy Hall of Fame inductees are:" section.
  33. ^ "Grammy Awards List". GRAMMY.com. 18 October 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  34. ^ a b c Planer, Lindsay. "The Doors: Riders on the Storm - Review". AllMusic. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  35. ^ Lenhoff, Alan; Robertson, David (2019). Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds that Launched Rock Music. University of North Texas Press. p. 234. ISBN 978-1-57441-776-0.
  36. ^ Rotondi, James (October 20, 2020). "Robby Krieger: 'I always like to be really near the amp, to keep the dynamics going between guitar and amp'". Guitar World. Retrieved December 2, 2021.
  37. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7513." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  38. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Riders on the Storm". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  39. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – The Doors" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  40. ^ "Flavour of New Zealand - Search Listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz.
  41. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 75.
  42. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles". Cashbox. September 4, 1971. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  43. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Doors – Riders on the Storm". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 28, 2013. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON The Doors"
  44. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Riders on the Storm". Irish Singles Chart.
  45. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  46. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1971/Top 100 Songs of 1971". Musicoutfitters.com.
  47. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1971". Tropicalglen.com.
  48. ^ "Italian single certifications – Doors – Riders on the Storm" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved April 19, 2021. Select "2021" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Riders on the Storm" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  49. ^ "British single certifications – Doors – Riders on the Storm". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  50. ^ a b Official Top 100, 11-17 September 1983.
  51. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 312. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  52. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 172. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  53. ^ "swedishcharts.com - Annabel Lamb - Riders On The Storm". swedishcharts.com.

External linksEdit