Photo c/o Joel Brodsky, New York City, 1967
Conduits of counterculture and the mainstream, the Doors were a transcendent sensation prior to September 17th, 1967 when Ed Sullivan welcomed the undeniably talented libertines to the stage (vis-à-vis the wholesome homes of the American people) with a reluctance that would soon be corroborated. Stopped just short of camera frame by producers anxiously waiting in the wings, Jim Morrison promises to redact the lyric "Girl we couldn't get much higher" from the live televised performance of breakout hit "Light My Fire."
After a strong but altogether unremarkable rendition of "People Are Strange", the stage is set for music history. With shut eyes and a dry smirk of schoolboy gravitas, the leather-clad troublemaker promptly breaks his promise, surprising virtually no one save Sullivan and producers who, according to Doors co-founder and bass keyboardist Ray Manzarek, told the band "Mr. Sullivan liked you boys. He wanted you on six more times...You'll never do the Sullivan show again.", a sure-fire threat and promise to which the Botticelli-curled frontman is said to have quipped back, "Hey man, we just DID the Sullivan show." To these ends, let the record show that the scorned Ed Sullivan's avowal of a lifetime ban still rings true more than a half-century later, earning the Doors a time-honored place on the show's blacklist of renounced guest including the likes of Bo Diddley, Jackie Mason, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan who earned his spot of his own volition in 1963 with a last-minute cancellation after being asked to change the lyrics of “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues."
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