“The most horrifying rock and roll I have ever heard.”
– rock critic Dave Marsh on Morrison Hotel
The Doors gather at the Morrison Hotel in downtown Los Angeles with photographer Henry Diltz. It’s a crumbling beauty, frozen in the LA of the 1940s. Ancient lampshades in a noir lobby. Pale brown lounge chairs. Two dollar and fifty-cent rooms. The perfect place to shoot for the Doors’ fifth album.
Unfortunately, the hotel management doesn’t agree.
You’ll have to speak to the owner. I’ve got work to do.
The Doors, radical, anti-authority beatniks that they are, break rank, sneak in and take a quick series of clandestine shots.
That was easy.
Afterwards, they head to skid row to drink with the locals at the Hard Rock Cafe, which is nothing like the tourist trap restaurant chain that took its name many years later.
The band drinks ice-cold Bud bottles with the winos and the down-and-outers, the true denizens of the LA underground.
All is well.
The Morrison Hotel and the Hard Rock Cafe are no longer, but the images captured on that December day in 1969 have forever tied the Doors to the gritty streets of the City of Angels.
The original album cover and interior:
The Morrison Hotel series outtakes:
The Hard Rock Cafe series outtakes:
Photographs by Henry Diltz