The Doors had neither a title nor a cover concept for their upcoming fifth album when they met with photographer Henry Diltz and graphic designer Gary Burden in December 1969. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek mentioned that he and his wife had seen a skid-row establishment in downtown Los Angeles called the Morrison Hotel—which they found amusing, as the group’s singer happened to be named Jim Morrison. Diltz, Burden and the band traveled to the location in drummer John Densmore’s Volkswagen van a few days later. The manager refused to give permission for the shoot, saying the owner would have to sign off on it—but when he left the room, the group dashed inside and posed anyway. Diltz had to get his shot quickly, even as passersby occasionally got into the frame (as seen above). The best shot from what Diltz calls their “guerrilla photo raid” gave the album both its cover and its title: Morrison Hotel. The four-story hotel, built in 1914, today stands abandoned after years of neglect.

comment closed

Copyright © 2011 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·