Saturday, July 29, 2017

50 years ago: The Doors hit #1 with “Light My Fire”

Light My Fire

The Doors

Writer(s): John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison (see lyrics here)


Released: April 1967


First Charted: May 27, 1967


Peak: 13 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 1 CL, 7 UK, 2 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 36.75 video, 177.17 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The song that “positively dripped with sexual desire” TC was a fitting launch for the Doors and helped establish their frontman, Jim Morrison, as one of rock’s most legendary sex symbols. Ironically, though, it was guitarist Robbie Krieger who had more to do with creating the song than Morrison. This was the first song Krieger ever wrote, although the band helped. RS500 Krieger explains: “Ray had the idea for the opening part, which was the real hook. Jim helped me out on some of the lyrics...and the beat was John’s idea.” BR

The song had more than just sex. Its blatant reference to drug use with the line “We couldn’t get much higher” got the band in trouble with the Ed Sullivan Show. The band had promised to replace the word “higher” when performing the song on a live television broadcast, but sang it anyway, getting them permanently banned from the show. AMG

The group wasn’t thinking of the song as a single when they created the version that runs near seven minutes on LP. BR However, the song was whittled down to less than three minutes for radio consumption. After the song hit #1, though, many radio stations opted for the longer version, which today remains mainstay of album rock radio. BR

Proving its power beyond the psychedelic and sexual revolutions of the sixties with which the song became synonymous, AMG the song also garnered José Feliciano a Grammy in 1969 for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance of his flamenco version of the song. More than two decades later, when Oliver Stone’s 1991 film biopic The Doors WK rekindled interest in the band, the song trounced its original #49 peak on the UK charts by landing all the way up at #7. The UK also gave Amii Stewart a #5 hit with the song in 1979 and Will Young took it to #1 in 2002.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for The Doors
  • DMDB page for parent album The Doors
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Lindsay Planer
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 227.
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 848.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (4/7/2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • WK Wikipedia

Last updated 4/24/2021.

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