**Road Manager for The Doors,
December 26 1967-January 19 1972**
(March 1, 1969 at the Dinner Key Auditorium)
It was the Spring of 1969. If we had paid attention to the weather it is likely that, like the civilizations of old, we would have seen bad omen and cancelled the massive upcoming tour for March and April. The problem was that we didn't get warning that it would rain for 40 days and 40 nights and most of the hillsides in LA would be filling in valleys complete with ready made housing. It was a bad springtime.
In the workshop we were nearing completion of the new sound system that I had designed for the group. It was powerful enough to fill any place we could play, including out side areas, without the aid of contracted sound people. The cabinets had been built in my organ factory in Andover during the break we had after returning form Europe in 1968. The cabinets were then shipped to Los Angeles and we began to make the amplifiers. There were based on large heat sinks of extruded Aluminum. It was a push-pull systems using bipolar power supplies. Everything, except the heat sinks and the lugs we used to hold the speaker into the cabinets were made in the Doors building. The rectifiers were on PC boards and there were four massive 50,000 Uf capacitors for smoothing. The transformers were 58-0-58 output on the secondary. These were housed in separate metal boxes with handles in each end - two in each box. That was to conform to the paired speaker units. The drivers were op-amps and the pre-amp signal came fromt he output of the Acoustic "Brains". Each of these rather incredible power amps could put out a signal of somewhat more than 200 Watts, RMS, continuously over a frequency range of 20 to 14,000 cycles within a 1DB level. Harmonic Distortion was about 0.1%.
The cabinets themselves are massive. The instrument amps were 6' high, 2' wide and 2' deep made of re-enforced 3/4" plywood. The front panel had six circular cut-outs for 10" Altec Lansing speakers each capable of handling 100 watts. The front and back panels were rebated into the side and top panels. One the cabinets were made - that was it. Together for life. The rear, sides and ends were covered in the typical black naugahide, popular with amp makes of that era. The front panels were painted black. However, in deference to the Acoustic company, I inlaid two vertical pale blue stripes to they were look-alikes. There was a second cabinet for high and low frequency. At the top were 6 speakers, each 6" in diameter set in pairs into a wood frame. Above and below each pair of speakers were horizontal pieces of wood set at 45 degrees. the formed little "Horns" to project the high end. Below, mounted directly into the cabinet were two 12" speakers for the bass end. These were also rated at 100 Watts each.
There were pairs of these cabinets for Ray, John's drums and Robbie's guitar. They were set 3 cabinets on either side of John's drum platform.
The Piano Bass was another story. I built two inverted horns. These had 15" speakers each with a 200 Watt amplifier to drive it. They were similar to the larger columns but only 4' high. The speaker was inside a box in the center of the cabinet, facing the rear, The sound traveled in two directions to come out the top and bottom. The frequency range was based on 16 cycles and it did produce bass.
Then there were the speakers for Jim. Think of the world trade center. There were four cabinets each 7' tall, 2' wide and 2' deep. Each had four 10" and 2 12" speakers and three amplifiers one for each pair of speakers. The stood in pairs at the front corners of the stage about 12 to 16' away from Jim. With those, Jim did not need any monitors but the boys did so we put two of the smaller Acoustic amplifiers, one on either side of John, on top of the big bass cabinets. These only had 100 Watts to drive them and were standard Acoustic cabinets. They worked well.
Together, we had 10 columnar speaker cabinets each producing 600 Watts abd two Bass cabinets with 400 watts. together they had the capacity for 6400 watts of power that could not be shaken. Now I must explain about amplifiers and wattage. When you see a speaker rated at 100 Watts that simply means that you can put the same amount of power into it that it would take to light a 100 Watt light bulb. If you rate an amplifier at 200 Watts - continuous, it simply means that the amplifier is putting out enough power to light two 100 Watt bulbs - forever, without dimming under maximum load. That would be when Jim screamed or when Ray went - Ba dum -ba-ba on the Piano Bass (Moonlight Drive) OK, now we have that down.
When you brag about how powerful your Stereo power amp is, you are just joking. The indication that the speakers can Absorb 100 watts of power does NOT mean that they will convert that into 100 watts of emitted sound. Let me tell you, if it did within 15 seconds of listening to it, you would be stone deaf for the rest of your life. The best speakers (Bose) are only about 14% efficient - fortunately for your ears. But don't let me minimize the fact that these Monster columns were neither powerful not loud. They were both and for two reasons. They were columns and could project the sound from both a low and high position. That threw the sound out over the crowd, which normally absorbs a lot of the sound energy (That's why they now hand speakers fromt he ceiling). Because all six of the speakers were firmly bolted to that face panel, it vibrated with them turning the entire face of the cabinet into a projecting surface. There was one other little item that made these speakers a little more efficient. In the center of each was a little aluminum dome made of very thin material. That was like the best tweeter. In reality it covered the spider that centers the cone over the magnet. But altec found that it added Db to the output of the speaker as well.
Now you know that all machinery is not efficient. Amplifiers are no different. So you have to put in more than you put out. We had a massive cable network consisting of 2 section of cable #6 AWG 4 wire that was connected to two splitter boxes. These had secondary cables that went to the stage front to handle the 4 transformers for the PA cabinets. The rest of the amps lined up along the back of the playing area all went into the main splitters. We had adapters that could go to European 220 or US 220 and send 110 to all the amps and other equipment that was used on stage. We could directly into the buss bars of the main power cabinet anywhere and feed out power hungry amplifiers.
We worked from November to Mid February to make this massive system and all support equipment necessary to run it. When it was finished we wanted to test it. That was OK except - it was raining. The floor inside the rehearsal room was wet and so were we. When we tried to touch anything on the amps we would get a shock from the output of the amplifiers. Remember that we had a 116 volts of DC power feeding the plus side of the driver transistors. That is quite a bit to get hit by. Anyway, about a week before we were set to leave for Florida and the first performance date, it stopped raining. We moved the amps outside and set all of them up in a row across the front of the parking lot. I had a recording of the Saint-Seans Third Concerto - The Organ symphony. And we turned it on and turned it up and went inside and closed the door. We set the needle on the entry to the last movement. If you have never heard this music you would not know why. If you have ever listened to it - you must definitely know why. Could I simply say that our building shook. The concrete slab that was the floor shook. The buildings across the street showed signs of tremor damage. (Kidding - but they, being directly in front, shook)
If you have a map of LA and look at where Santa Monica Blvd is, then Sunset and behind that are "The Hills". More than 1-1/2 miles. We were later to learn that most of West Hollywood in that radius had a music education that day. For us, sequestered in the building, you did not really hear it as much as you felt it. People came out of buildings across the street, some cars stopped and the Sheriff arrived. He attempted to walk toward the speakers. We pulled the plug. He "Suggested" that, though the music was nice they had received phone calls from a vast area wondering what and where was this sound coming from. We explained what we were doing and why. We also gave him an autographed record or two. He went away much happier than when he came. It was the first, and last, time that we ever put that on the famous "10". We had our fun and had achieved our goal - on schedule. Florida, here we come.
We had a dawn flight to Miami. The Cappies took one look at the "Excess Baggage" and nearly had heart failure. But they got it on - 5000 pounds of it in 36 cases. The flight was uneventful. The Stewardesses knew something was afoot and asked who we were. Immediate celebrities, we got upgraded to first class courtesy of Delta Airlines (AHHH!! That's why they went Bankrupt). We had been informed that when we got to Florida everything would be so nice. The promoter would have six guys and a truck waiting for us. All we had to do was make sure everything got on the truck and it would be taken careof. How nice. But - remember - there is no free lunch. Letting these guys get control of our new equipment was Mistake #1 that day.
We were driven to the Dinner Key Auditorium.That was a rather grandiose name for what had been a hangar fro the Pan American Airlines Amphibious Planes that flew between Florida, Cuba and other points south until Castro took Cuba by storm. These planes took off from, and landed on, water.
Here is a side story. When we got there it was still daylight and I was able to look around. The place had not been used for years for anything much. It was old, dirty and HOT. Naturally the large sliding doors that originally had allowed the planes to move in were closed. As I looked around outside I knew I had been in this place before. Memories came back. When I asked and was informed of the true nature of the building and ramps I realized that in 1939 I had been in this very same place and watched as my Grandfather boarded one of these planes to fly to Cuba. I that a flash-back?
We were met my some welcome faces. The Boys from Columbia had taken a bus south. We told them about the new equipment and they immediately went to recruit some help. They came back with four faces shining with expectations of a fun time. Little did they know.
Burger time. At that time $20 would feed an army. There was only a squad so I got change. We were waiting for the equipment to be delivered. We ate everything in sight and we waited for the equipment. We walked around the building and waited for the equipment. Most of all we kept coming back to the stage. This was a structure made up of four weathered sections each about five feet high. They were very unstable. I wondered how we would get all this equipment on it and have it standing. When you walked on them, without equipment, they shook in most alarming fashion. We waited for the equipment.
Finally Bill Siddons came in. On look at his face and we all knew there was trouble - Serious trouble. He explained that he had been in a mooting with the promoters - two guys who owned a Karate Club in Miami. There had been a big argument over the payment for the Doors.
The contract had called for a primary payment of $XXXX.00 and the ticket sales were limited to 8000 seats. However, when Bill had checked the places where tickets were sold he found that many more than 8000 had already been sold and more to come. The Promoters had violated the terms of the agreement. And, more astonishing, Bill knew that they had cheated at least three other groups and were being sued by the Musicians Union to recover the lost money. Yet Bill had signed an agreement with these guys.
When Bill tried to re-negotiate the payment for the extra seats the brothers laughed at him. They had an agreed price and that was it. Bill called in the Musicians Union and they got their Lawyers. Of course they wondered why Bill had ever agreed to any dealings with these guys, he had been warned by the union that they were trouble. The negotiations went no where. So Bill said - "Ok, we will not play at all. We cancel the performances on breach of contract. Well, certainly he could. However this did not seem to bother the brothers too much. The "Boss" simple asked Bill where the equipment was. Bill replied "At the Auditorium I assume."
The reply was frightening, "No, it is in our truck. If you ever want to see it again you will play."
We had scheduled a tour with at least 12 or 16 dates. It was to be the longest tour the boys had ever been on. We could not risk the equipment. Even if the police were called - where was the truck. How easy would it be to return the truck with the equipment smashed - Who could prove that these guys did it. So Bill had to knuckle under. But he didn't like it. He told me to get some counters and put people on the doors so we could get some kind of count as the people came in. We knew we would never get an accurate count from the Brothers. I sent one of the boys out to buy six simple counters and while that was taken care of the truck arrived and we started moving int. Surprisingly enough the Bully Boys helped. A good thing too. Time had gotten short and it was a new set up.
We got it done and tested. The first group then got their equipment in. As had become the policy the groups used out PA. The groups liked it because it was much better than anything they had. The Promoter liked it because he didn't have to hire an expensive, and time consuming, outsider. I liked it because I got a bonus.
Ray, John and Robbie were in town. They had flown in later than we did. Jim was on a plane. Everyone knows the story of the performance by the troop the previous evening. Jim, who advocated "breaking on through" was thinking about what he had seen. In the mean time, having gotten drunk the night before, and having a fight with Pam in the morning, he boarded the plane in no good mood for anything. Of course he added to the problem by drinking on the plane. The three boys had been told of the problem. They were angry that Bill had been so foolish as to make a deal with a proven cheat. They were angry that they would not get a rightful split of the extra ticket income. What may have been the worst was the ransoming of the equipment. They had been forced to play - or else.
Jim arrived at the airport fairly late. He was obviously drunk. They rushed through traffic to the Auditorium. The Dressing rooms were on the second level, where old administration offices had been, an a section of the building that was along the outside of one wall of the hangar. They got him up there after clearing out all the beer. At least he could get no worse. They told him about the situation. In his condition, that was a mistake. they had a short memory about his reaction in New Haven to bad news. they should have expected trouble on this one.
It was time for the doors to open. We had one guy on each door, each with a counter. There was a perfect flood of kid that poured through those doors and out onto this vast open floor. they just kept coming. And the counters kept clicking, frantically. The counting stopped when there were somewhat over 13,000 people in that space. As the human tide began to this the Bully Boys, who were standing near the doors, saw that the kids were taking a count. They put a stop to that as fast as possible. So we know that more than 13,000 people where there. We also know that there were many more. I had one of the boys take the counter to Bill so he could verify the numbers with the Union Representative and the attorney. I had other things to do.
Almost immediately the people stopped coming in the first group were told to get on stage and start playing. This they did and that went on for an hour or so. The temperature in the building was high and the humidity, already bad in Miami, was worse. There was no ventilation of any king and the place was packed with humanity. The sweat was running like water. There were rumors of kids passing out but I could never confirm this.
The first show ended and the group took their equipment off stage. The stage was, once again, set for disaster. This one would be far greater than anyone could have imagined.
I sent one of the Boys up to the "Dressing Room" to call the Doors to the stage. There were four very angry and one very drunk performers when they arrived. No matter, The kids paid money, they were not at fault. The show must go on. There was a ingle spot light directly across the room from the stage. The light was about head height - about 10 feet off the floor. If you looked directly at the crowd you could not really see anything because the light simply blinded you. It also presented such a contrast between light and dark of the audience that they were almost undectable in the glare.
Jim sang and, on the surface at least, he seemed to go along with the attitude of the other three - give the kids a show. I suppose everyone knows the famous story of the guy who came up on stage - this was prearranged - with his little lamb and asked people not to kill animals, rather respect their life as well as out own. Jim lost no opportunity to take advantage of playing that one for all it was worth. The fellow stood there for a bit and, having said his peace, he left with his lamb. This interruption of the normal pace of the show, and Jim's rather inebriated condition, led the way to the next step. He decided to interrupt a song with a talk fest. He was going to give the kids a show but not what they expected.
It started with the suggestion that they "Take off your clothes" "Let's see a little skin around here", Let's Get Naked" This was repeated in various forms two or three times. He took his shirt off. Ray, John and Robbie were not prepared for the events that were to follow. First one to start thinking was Ray.
"Vince, Don't let him take his pants off." he shouted at me and pointed with his right hand and arm toward Jim. At this point Jim had done nothing but take his shirt off. He made no other movement.
I stepped through the space between John's high-hat and the bass amp and stepped down off the drum platform. I walked directly up to Jim from behind. I was in the shadow of his body. It was probably not likely that anyone could see me. That was fine with me. I didn't intend to become the replacement star that night.
When I got behind him I slipped my fingers through his belt loops and twisted them down. Now, even if Jim tried to pull away, we were hooked together. I put my elbows on my hips and lifted. This pulled his pants up higher on his waist. So high that I think his voice went up a couple of octaves. I stayed that way for a long time.
Whereas Jim made no movement to remove any other clothing, the same did not hold true for the kids in the audience. In the heat, the humidity and the mere adventure of it all, they stripped en masse. Thousands of kids went stark naked. How they got the clothes off I don't know because there was no room to move. You could not bend over, you could not kneel down - there simply was no room. But the clothes came off. Unlike the very poorly executed movie, they did not dance around the room. They could not move to do it. They just took off the clothing, in some cases tossing it into the air, in others dropping it to the ground. In some cases I assume that they held on to whatever they took off. My guess is that of the 13,000 people in that room, probably 8000 had absolutely nothing on at all. Many of the other, mostly boys, removed their shirts. Most of those retaining their clothing were girls.
So far, Jim had done absolutely nothing wrong. It was impossible for him to get his had down into his pants. I was holding his pants tight around his waste. He couldn't pull them down even if he got them unfastened in front. I was holding them up - way up. He made no effort to pull the zipper down. His hands were either in the air or on the mike stand. I could tell that much from the position of his arms and motions of his body. Even if he did get his hand down his pants, if he wanted to show his equipment off, he had a long way to go - it had to be a record breaker.
Morrison was in a chatting mood and the show was going down hill. A policeman came on stage. Not to bother Jim, but to look over the crowd. Jim moved to his left and I let go. The crisis was over and he was not interested in clothing any more. He had other ideas. For some ridiculous reason, he grabbed the officers hat. The audience loved that. The cop was startled and began to put his hand up to ward off the gesture but he was too slow. In one sweeping motion, Jim threw the hat into the crowd. The kids cheered even louder with that.
So far the situation was non-violent. and I think, had it continued, things would have settled down. However, at this point the brothers arrived on stage. Jim headed back toward the microphone to pick up where he had left off. The guy picked up on the music and things started to get back to normal. At this point people started to get on the stage from a platform that was behind the stage. People also tried to come up from the front. The rear right section of the stage began to collapse. John's drum platform started to tilt down were the leg was on the falling rear section. Two or three of the guys saw the stage starting to go. While some of them warned off the jumpers the rest tried to hold the amps form falling over and keep John's cymbal stands from going over as he kept playing.
It was at this point that one of the brothers walked up to Jim, who was standing at the mike stage center, and violently shoved him off stage into the crowd. Jim hit the floor in a space the opened up for him as he came toward the floor. How they did it I will never know but he landed in a small open area. He then moved first toward the rear of the building, in the direction of the spotlight then veered off to his left toward the stairs leading up the wall to the offices above.
The sudden motion of the Brother and, I assume, the forward pressure of the falling rear section started the front right side to go down. This was really dangerous as the big columns would have really smashed someone if they fell on them. They weighed over 200 pounds each and the tops of them were about 12 feet above the floor - that is a lot of energy to be hit with. I had turned toward the front and was supporting the amps with help from one of the other guys who realized the danger. We wanted to lay them down on their back but fortunately things didn't get that far. I could see Jim heading for stairs and then go up. I didn't see more as things we getting frantic with kids still trying to climb on the stage from both front and back.
When Jim was pushed off Ray, John and Robbie stopped playing. I told John "Get off, the stage is collapsing. and he wasted no time with questions. Ray turned to see me holding the amps up and he also moved away. Robbie, seeing the other two get up, pulled his plug from the guitar and followed almost immediately after John. The made their way through the now moving crowd and finally got to the stairs and up tothe office. The cop who had been on stage went with them. When he got into the dressing room, Jim greeted him and, generally speaking the hat throwing incident was joked about. Jim appologiesed and offered to pay for the hat. The cop, much to his credit, refused payment and indicated to everyone there that he took it in good humor and the issue was closed.
As this was going on the brother that had pushed Jim off the stage went off as well. The crowd was milling around and those nearest the door began to clear out. It took about thirty minutes for the place to empty. The overhead lights were turned on and 3 or 4 guys were left walking around. There were clothes of ever type, size and purpose all over the floor. While we packed the equipment, these people picked up clothing and piled it in the middle of the floor. The pile, when they were done, was nearly 5 feet high and 8 or 10 feet in diameter.
What I have enjoyed thinking about over these long years, is the question of explanations. For instance, How does a girl explain to her parents why she comes home with no shoes or socks, or better yet, no dress. I can assure you there were hundreds of people who had to talk pretty fast and inventive to explaining the lack of some very important pieces of clothing. For the boys, shirts could be explained and so, maybe shoes and socks. Underwear you couldn't see to tell, but when you come home stark naked, or perhaps with only a T-shirt, What do you day? Strip Poker???
And Momma says "But dear, didn't you go to that Concert?"
We, the crew, got all the equipment into the truck that the bully-boys left for us. Without fuss they handed over the keys and told us where to leave it at the airport. A couple of the kids piled in and we were off the motel were we were staying. The remainder followed in their car. We all had dinner, re;axed a bit and then everyone went home. Randy and Mike stayed with us. They were to return to Maryland the next day. We were to drive the truck to Jacksonville, leave the equipment at the hall, turnt he truck into the airport and head for Boston to spend a few days with my parents.
WE got up early, got the boys to the Bus terminal an off we went to Jacksonville. The trip was uneventful and we arrived at about 11:00. We made arrangements with the manager to store the equipment and after unloading headed for the airport. We got to Boston where my Brother in Law met us and off we went to the family home. Good show, a bit unusual but not bad considering all. Jim even behaved himself relatively well despite the drinking.
If someone had dropped a WMD on Miami, the storm that broke the next day could not have been less. Driven by political motives for re-election, personal gain and national recognition the prosecutor from Dade County decided that Morrison had done something bad. The rest is published history so I will not recount that affair. I will point out that for some reason I was never asked to testify about holding Jim's pants up or the impossibility of his getting his hand into the waistband. However, all the photographic evidence that the prosecutor gathered and introduced as evidence showed one thing clearly - Jim, at no time, had his hand in his pants nor was any part of his body exposed other than from his waist up. It is also of interest that the office whose hat was taken was called as a prosecution witness. He could not say that he had seen Jim expose himself or even try to.
The trial was well conducted by our Lawyers. The defense was perfect. The evidence proving the prosecutions case against Jim was non-existent. No one called as a witness, at any time stated that they had seen Jim expose himself. The entire motive for the arrest, the trial and the resulting sentence as based on the ambitions and greed of one single man.
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