April 27th, 2010
When You're Strange, a film about The Doors
Interview with John Densmore

John Densmore, the drummer for The Doors, talks to PBS about AMERICAN MASTERS When You’re Strange, the first feature documentary about The Doors.  The film is directed by Tom DiCillo and narrated by Johnny Depp. Densmore discusses the documentary’s opening sequence featuring Jim Morrison’s rarely seen original film “HWY: An American Pastoral,” and the different path he has taken as a rock star.

Densmore’s autobiography, Riders on the Storm: My Life With Jim Morrison and The Doors, was published in 1991 and was a New York Times bestseller.  He joined Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger for The Doors induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

AMERICAN MASTERS When You’re Strange, a film about The Doors premieres Wednesday May 12, 2010 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).

  • davey

    this dude never really knew too much about the Doors ,I heard of him ,cause he decided not to fire Jim from the Doors :) smart move ,,, it just, doesn’t seem like he ever got it ,yet . i just say it cause he insults my heroes every time i ever heard him talk. (2 or 3 times) cant wait to see Jims movie though so coool :)

  • garthegreat

    i dont get it ive seen the film highway when hes beaten that rusty car he takes a piss in some hotel driven doen donuts in his car why do they say its never been seen before

  • J

    The music of gods! No end no limits a river of music a pure symbol of joy,life and death!

  • Patti Martone

    Can’t wait to se this !!!! In my local listing doesn’t have anything about this Movie??Om PBS???for May 12th ??

    in The TV guide for Wilmington, Delaware new journal??? soo is there a way I can see this ???
    Thanks soo much !!
    Patti Martone

  • BW

    The footage(HWY) has been seen before by many Doors fans(just look on youtube), but it has never been seen like it is in the film. It is crisp, clear and beautiful. Plus, the motel he “took a piss in” he lived in for a few years in L.A. The Alta Cienega(Room 32). He refers to it in one of his poems, “the green hotel.”

    A real treat for newbies, a visual treat for hardcore Doors fans!

  • M.C. Camero

    Hey Davey, “this dude” might actually know a thing or two about the Doors, he was actually the drummer in the band.

  • Jim Nightshade

    a bad VCD copy of HWY has been knocking about for years… you can view the entire thing in sections on YouTube… what’s interesting is the restored footage of the movie from the original negative, which had been “lost”… yeh, right!

  • Steve in Arlington

    davey says:
    “This guy never really knew too much about the Doors”…..you talking about this guy in the interview..the drummer..Jim Densmore ?
    “Never really knew too much”….
    Yeah…sure..he was only w/ Morrison since the beginning..and refuses to cash in on the name today…like Manzarek & Kreiger.

  • Mojorisin

    Yep.he wrote a good book too.
    The 3 of them are rarely seen together.
    Manzarek has helped in keeping their name alive and miliking the gravy train.

  • Morpheus

    Is this documentary available on PBS.org?? I don’t have cable or satellite; I have a crappy converter and a crappy antenna and the signal sucks!!

    I really pray….that this is going to be available on PBS, by this weekend if not tonight!

  • Paul

    John Densmore was a crucial component to The Doors’ success. He gave hit songs like “Light my Fire” and “LA Woman” their essence with his Latin/Jazz-inspired beats. Densmore is the only member that actually sticks to his (and Morrison’s) philosophy of keeping their identity and not trying to create something different (like the others). John gets a bad name from Manzarek, who’s far more frequently in the media.

    The movie was pretty good and the footage was great, but for a diehard fan it’s basically a more serious, respectful telling of their tale. It’s not the “anti-Stone” version that Ray claims. This could’ve been SO much more with all that treasured footage being readily available.

  • griezzel

    the HWY footage blew me away! obviously has been restored and remastered in HD, probably for use in this doc. it looked so flawless. so i hope to god it gets some kind of release soon. i’m hoping it will included on the DVD of the film with lots of other extras. i’d pay money for that!!!

  • dave

    i would like to be able to purches the DVD at the movie stores or wall mart…

  • Jim

    John is always my favorite to hear speak of the Doors legacy. Read his book “Riders On The Storm.” It finally speaks honestly to Jim Morrison’s legend.

  • Frank McGovern

    Saw the movie in theatre already……great!! Can’t wait to watch again on TV. Hope to see more unseen footage soon.

  • hardrain

    ‘The Negroes in the forest-brightly feathered-they’re saying FORGET THE NITE-live with us in forests of azure!”- J.D. Morrison

  • JeanO’Reilly

    Thanks John, that is great prespective… I liked the footage of him interacting with folk, so impish!

  • Jeerad McShambles

    who said the footage of HWY was “lost”? it just hasn’t not been officially released yet due to legal reasons and the estates involved etc…I don’t recall anyone in the Doors camp ever saying it was “lost”…

  • Mark Underwood

    Agree that Densmore’s bio is worth reading.

    Densmore created several memorable phrases in their songs – Break On Through, Wild Child and I Looked At You are simple but tasty.

    When Krieger and Manzarek played Jones Beach in Long Island a few years ago, I was sorry Densmore didn’t tour with them for the sake of the fans.

    He definitely carried his musical weight.

  • sandy beberian

    wow! i’m making another donation to channel 13 for this beautiful film. i also thank pbs for the interviews with john densmore and robbie krieger – great! i think johnny depp’s naration of the film added a lot too. it was both visually breathtaking and of course, the music was and still is great. i recorded this on dvr and will never erase it. looking forward to merle haggard next.

  • Glenn

    It is an interesting fact that among Doors fans, the Doors movie directed by Oliver Stone and backed by Carolco pictures is widely regarded at best inaccurate, and at worst total BS.I personally could not care one way or another, as I never knew the guy intimately enough to provide the masses with a conclusive perspective on his life.

    From the various sources who have managed to gaze upon the new documentary, “When You’re Strange”, directed by Tom DiCillo, and narrated by Johnny Depp, the faithful seem to have gone unusually quiet in regards to the overall performance of the film.

    When the documentary was being touted by Ray as the Anti-Oliver-Stone version of the Doors history as opposed to the 1991 portrayal, I personally thought this documentary was going to be the absolute definitive, bare bones, never-before-seen, avant garde mystical journey into the unknown I had been waiting for since 1991.

    The general consensus from passionate fans is that “When You’re Strange”, is a fantastic and intimate journey into the creative minds of four talented artists, the machinations of how they created their music and lyrics, their impact on the sixties, and of course their influences and film projects.

    Will this documentary have far reaching appeal to casual fans, or have the impact on hardcore fans Ray Manzarek hoped it would? I doubt it. I think, almost 20 years after the Oliver Stone epic, to a large majority of new fans, besides what they hear of Doors music on the radio, the Doors movie is their first real introduction to Jim Morrison and the Doors. Fortunately, the brighter part of that audience will delve closer into the Doors material, and become fans of the Doors like myself.

    Publicity within the realm of film, whether it is good or bad will always have an audience, and the content and perspective of what is being projected is only relevant in terms of how the material intrinsically resonates with the viewer.

    Oliver Stone my have created of load of hogwash in terms of truthful fact. But he definitely delivered a new audience and a truckload of keen fans to the doorsteps of desperate Doors shareholders. Will we see the impact both in fan base increase, and box office earnings from When You’re Strange? Not if the TRUTH has anything to do with it. Keep your anecdotal truths and precious Doors facts; I’m going on the ride.

  • super8monsters

    I Saw this in an empty theater at the Angelika in N.Y.C. The film was a re-thread of Oliver Stone’s version of The Doors. It was style over substance. And nothing really captured the silver screen with anything awe-inspiring or captivating (with one exception – when the song Touch Me is featured, Jim Morrison’s performance of the song on The Smother Brothers Show is “morphed” with the recorded vocal track on the album the Soft Parade, was mesmerizing at best. In that brief glimpse, moment, Jim Morrison looked and sounded like Apollo the Sun God or something like that. The music was amazingly loud and clear and 3-dimensional like the horn section. best scene in the entire film. All too brief.

    But that was it for it. Hopefully, a better doc comes along real soon.

  • Janis

    Hey John,
    Glad to see you are still your soulful self.

  • Jim Woods

    I absolutely agree with what Densmore said about the Highway film scenes, I honestly thought they were a re-creation. Amazing that that’s the real Jim. Those segments were so much clearer than the other footage from that era. Priceless part of the documentary.

  • Bill

    I also saw this at the Angelika in NYC,also at the Village cinema a few weeks later.Thought it was very good.At first sad because I really miss Jim.But during and after the movie I felt great knowing how special these guys really are. I even snuck in some beers.Jim would be proud,but dont tell the ushersLOL

  • Rory

    The “Doors” are no more…it was fun while it lasted…move on Manzarek& Krueger…Densmore has. :)

  • Jan Little

    This doc has stayed with me since viewing it last night. I enjoyed reliving those times (high school for me) and feel a little better about Jim Morrison as a result. It occurred to me while watching the film that Robbie Krieger and John Densmore now have their chance to speak! Usually, the focus is entirely on Jim Morrison. Ray Manzarek, my favorite Door, has been the spokesperson, also authored a book about these experiences.

  • Derek

    Frankly, many people mistakenly claim that Oliver Stone’s movie was inaccurate. Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore have never said it was inaccurate, but rather that it was not the protrait of the Doors and of Jim that they wanted portrayed. Any true Doors fan should hae long ago read the book by Danny Sugerman and Paul Rothchild titled “No one here gets out alive” If you have read that book,you which all of the player have agreed with, you would agree that Oliver Stone’s movie was very accurate in substance just not flattering to Jim. And well, Jim was an idiot at times and did self destruct in a world of alcohol and drugs. Been there myself, following his lead! This movie eems to have captured a better way in which the former band mates prefer that folks think of Jim. Yet both movies have been factual in nature. Our heros? lives are not always as pretty as we may iagine them to be.


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