**Road Manager for The Doors,
December 26 1967-January 19 1972**
BILL GRAHAM – CANDIDATE
The Doors definitely wanted to get out of the contract with B&D, but they did not want to fall into the same situation with someone else. I felt that their best choice was Bill Graham. I think they could have worked out a nice contract with Bill. He was one of the pioneers of the theatrical rock performance and gave every group every courtesy and consideration in support of their presence in his establishments. He also made every effort to make the performance of any group that appeared on his stage a well-organized, professional event. He even designed special equipment that made changeover fast and trouble free. I can say that in the several times I worked with Bill, it was a gratifying experience. I saw Bill get angry, but absolutely never without cause and always the result of unprofessional behavior by a member of a group or their staff. He never expressed anger toward any person who worked for him. One mistake and they had a hearing. The cause of failure had to be a very good one or that person was dismissed immediately. There was rarely a second chance and never a third. Bill felt that, in consideration for the audience that was paying for these performances, they had a right to the utmost professionalism. If you failed to provide that, then there was no better punishment than termination.
At this time, Bill Graham had two or three groups under contract. Most notable was the Jefferson Airplane. Perhaps it was for this reason that the boys did not consider him as a possible replacement. They felt he would not be able to devote the time and effort to yet another major group and promote them with the effort necessary to bring them to the heights they envisioned. In any case, they thought and they debated. Under the circumstances, their attention was always drawn to one obvious Candidate, Bill Siddons.
REASONS FOR BILL, MANAGER
When you think about it Bill was, in many ways, what they wanted. They knew him. He had been on many road trips and had proven capable of dealing with all the problems that might arise, except for Jim’s drinking and drug use. He had handled large sums of money and was proven honest and trustworthy. Because of the many road trips, and the planning that had to be done, he knew the hall managers where they would likely play in the future and the promoters who would be putting on most of the shows. He was 19, energetic, enthusiastic and devoted to the group. He did not have the reputation, age or experience in the business to make unwanted or unacceptable demands for his services. He could be molded into what the Doors wanted and, with the proper contract, could be controlled. This was what they most wanted; a manager they could control and who would not come to control them.
REASONS AGAINST THIS CHOICE
It is said that Jim proposed Bill for the position. I have reservations on this account. Jim was not particularly friendly toward Bill. Bill was younger than Jim and was hired as an informal Equipment/Road Manager. By any consideration, he was an employee. Yet on more than one occasion, Bill treated Jim like a spoiled brat. Perhaps he was, but Bill’s attitude was one of disrespect and contempt. Jim did not like Bill. Had I been Jim, Bill would have lasted only until his second transgression. I saw one incident that, had I been Jim, Bill would have been fired at that moment. Regardless of the relationship between Jim and Bill, there was a bigger problem. Jim was not behaving himself. He kept pushing the limits of bad behavior before and during performances. He was testing to see just how far he could go before the group - or the managers - rebelled. The group needed someone who was willing to follow their lead. He also had to be strong enough, in personality and demeanor, to maintain some sense of order in Jim’s relationship with the group, and his conduct during performances. Bill was absolutely incapable of doing this. With his attitude toward Jim, he made the situation worse. Jim resented the way Bill treated him. Jim did things that were completely uncalled for just to aggravate Bill. As a result of Bill’s treatment, sometimes in front of other people, Jim did not like Bill - Which I know because Jim told me on more than one occasion that he felt that Bill was, “childish,” “just a kid,” disrespectful, power hungry, immature, and did not really know what life was about.
On one occasion, in one of our chat sessions, Jim stated clearly that he had made a big mistake in agreeing to have Bill become their manager. John, for one, had great doubts about the wisdom of hiring Bill. He knew Bill could not control Jim at a time when Jim really needed control. For reasons still unknown, John never expressed his doubts strenuously enough to affect the outcome or, the likely possibility of his being over-ridden is another option.
This is taken from John’s book, written many years after the incident:
“I was full of dread. Bill was a great guy, a peer as well as a good worker, but Jim was destroying himself, and who was going to stop it...”
I think that had Jim been better controlled in that period, things would never had reached the crisis they did eight months later. Jim was like a spoiled kid, testing the limits of discipline. He got away with it and kept going. Eventually, he paid for this with his life.
JANUARY 24 - BILL SAYS - “GO HOME”
It may or may not be the case that one or more of the Boys had spoken to Bill about his interest in becoming their manager. I have no idea what the relationship was between Bill and the Boys in the period following the performance at the Carousel Theater. The exact dates and situations of the following event are hard to place after 37 years. However, what happened is more important than exactly when.
It was about 01.24, when the Boys were rehearsing, that Bill approached me and said, without a lot of fanfare. “Vince, you can probably go back to your home now. The Doors are just rehearsing and I can handle that. They really won’t be needing you any more.” (This is a paraphrase of the conversation). I was a little surprised. I had been hired to come and work with these people by their managers. The group certainly did not say that there was trouble nor dissatisfaction. Bob Greene, who was paying me every other week, had not said anything about my being unwanted. I was quite puzzled by this.
Basically, Bill wanted to get me out of the organization. He likely knew he was to take over. If I had returned to Andover, he could tell the Doors that I had quit and no one would be the wiser. He would then replace me with one of his friends, someone his own age; someone he could control. I did not, for some reason, entirely believe him. As it turned out, that was a good thing. One mistake I made was not going directly to Robbie, without delay, and find out what was going on. Looking back, it probably would have changed the course of events in the next two months. This was the first time Bill tried this stunt. It was not the last. But I did take the hint.
JANUARY 26 - I GO TO ACOUSTIC
I remembered that Steve Marx had offered me a job, so I went to see him. I told him about my relationship with the group and my work. He listened with interest and not much comment. When I was finished, he suggested that I stick with the group as much as possible. In the mean time, he offered me a job as his production manager. Thus I began my Dual existence. It was not one that demanded the use of phone booths, however.
JANUARY 29 - PRODUCTION MANAGER
It was a Monday when I first went to the new Acoustic plant in El Segundo. Steve was already there when I arrived, even before 09:00. We talked for some time until all his crew had arrived. Then Steve introduced me to all the people who were working there and told them that I would be working as Production Manager. He explained how each person would work and left it to us to get things going.
That was quite a responsibility. I had to work with Dave, who was responsible for purchasing everything Steve needed. I had to work with Steve to schedule production of amplifiers that were to be provided to the promotional groups, or those groups that had purchased them. The most important facet was working with the production team to make the amps, get them tested and delivered. When they moved to the El Segundo plant, Steve had hired two more girls and a boy, Chris, to make the amps.
The first thing was designing a wiring harness so we could do the wiring much faster. The harness would be made on a board, ties together pulled off, and the ends of each wire stripped and ready to connect.
Next, we set up a sort of assembly line with each person having a special area of operations. That reduced the number of parts trays, made it easier to see who was working fast or slow, and gave better quality control on each aspect of construction.
The overall result was that production went from two or three drivers or power amps per week to five or six. We were able to start catching up on orders. That made Steve happy because it improved his cash flow position. It also made the groups happy because they were getting these magnificent amps. Orders began to flow in at a great rate.
I was working hard. Each day I had to set up for the Boys, whether they were in Studio or in Recording. Then I drove to El Segundo and spent the day at the Acoustic factory making amps and keeping everyone happy. In the evening I would return to the studio and sit through the rest of the recording session and then pack up and move out. This routine went on for several days. Bill evidently did nothing to replace me after telling me to go back to Massachusetts. I still did all the work though he assured me he would take over when I left. Bob Greene may have warned him that his impetuous suggestion would cause him a lot of trouble if he pushed it.
END OF JANUARY - PREPARED
By the end of January, they had new mikes, mike stands, and mike cables that were all color-coded for number and length, neatly bundled and packed in the new equipment cases. We had also taken delivery of six beautiful new Acoustic Amplifiers. These were the big ones. They were four feet high, two feet wide and 12” deep, 200-watt amplifiers from two 12” speakers and a horn tweeter. Each one had a “brain” that controlled both cabinets. This gave us one pair of amps for Organ, Piano Bass and Guitar. We had four of the smaller cabinets for Jim ,but nothing for the drums. I knew that this was not going to work, especially in big halls or in performances where we were outdoors.
Of course, these had to have road cases made for them. I delivered them to the case maker and in just a few days I got a call. They were finished and they looked nice. But they were not convenient. The bottom was a small tray with a six-inch lip. It was lined with blue foam for shock padding. The top was a little over 4’ high and slipped down over the amp. Two straps went under the tray and were buckled to short strap ends on the other side.
These were designed to absorb the shock of being dropped or having other equipment tossed on top of them. The cases did work well. The problem came when you put the amps into the base trays. You had to muscle them up and set them down into the tray. If you didn’t get it right, the amps tended to tear the foam off the sides of the tray. We had to make the best of it. There really was no other convenient way to do it.
We were ready to go on the road for the first major tour.
MARCH 4 - ROBBIE GIVES ORDERS
It was about the week of 03.04. I had got caught up in traffic and was somewhat late for the TTG set-up. Robbie asked me why I was not around so much. I told him that Bill had told me to go; I was no longer needed and was working for Acoustic Control. I was just doing what I could to help the Doors out. I reminded him that I was still receiving only One Hundred dollars per week. L.A. is an expensive place to live. Robbie was absolutely furious and told me to quit working for Acoustic, which I did.
MARCH 5 - LEAVE ACOUSTIC CONTROL
The next day, when I went in to Acoustic, I had to tell Stave that the Doors demanded that I had to work for them full time. I would have to quit. Steve was pretty upset. He suggested that rock groups are not all that stable. I would have a better future if I stayed with him than continuing with the Doors. During the remainder of the week I gave that some thought. The one factor was that I had given up everything to come with the Doors and I firmly believed in their music and continued success. To go from building and maintaining musical instruments to building amplifiers did not seem like much of an upgrade. Of course, it turned out that Steve was right. However, my career, but not association, with Acoustic Control came to an end on March 8th.
The lawyers for Sal and Asher were adamant that they would not allow the contract to be dissolved without a fight. Abe Somers was like a bulldog with a bone. He was not going to give it up. The fighting dragged on. After one or two weeks of legal infighting between the lawyers, Somers declared, in view of B&D’s refusal to release them from the contract, they would go to court. And so they did.
I knew about the argument with B&D. I was asked by Robbie and John to testify of any problems that they had caused me. There were none. They treated me with respect because - remember - I had been recommended by Bill to replace him. I could not provide any ammunition for their attack on B&D. I was left out of that messy business. Personally, I am glad of it because those guys did not deserve what they got. This thing was purely subjective and based only on personality clash. It should have been resolved is a more rational and equitable manner
CONTRACT TERMINATED - 1968.03
Application for a court date was made and the issue was put on the Court Calendar. Sal and Asher with their lawyers on one side, and the Boys and Somers on the other, began to present the arguments for their respective positions. After two or three days of hearing arguments by the lawyers for both sides, and listening to the really shallow testimony from the Boys, it became apparent to the Judge that, aside from the bad move by B &D to have Jim leave the Doors, the boys could not prove any important reason why he should declare the contract void.
Finally, he asked Robbie a simple Question, “You people feel that you cannot work with your managers?” Robbie, as spokesman for the group said this was true. The Judge then told them he thought, “This was a clear case of personalities and had nothing to do with business”
Robbie had to agree that it was the case. The judge then acknowledged that if the relationship did not end there it would not be a co-operative effort in the future. If for no other reason than they were fighting each other in court instead of working out their differences peacefully and reasonably. He suggested that after taking such action he could not believe that the two groups could get along as a result of the hostilities that would naturally be generated.
He ordered the contract null and void. The Doors were to pay Sal and Asher all the fees due them up to the time of their last performances, all percentages from any performances that were already booked as a result of their efforts, a percentage of The Doors recording royalties, and a financial penalty as a result of loss of future earning from a group that their efforts had made famous and potentially wealthy. And that was the end of that.
In retrospect it is likely that the events of that courtroom set in motion a series of incidents that lead to the eventual destruction of the group. No one knew it then, most certainly the decisions and actions made for and by those involved, set the course for tragedy.
Edited by Psychic Linda Lauren