Saturday, December 26, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: No-One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman

By Pete Loughlin

This is the book that started it all. There are those that repeat the old saying: "If you can remember the 60s you weren't there". They say that this book is obsequious, that it's full of myth and exaggeration, that it perpetuates the stories about things that never happened, that it focuses too heavily on Jim Morrison's extreme side and his alcoholism. They make accusations of fabrication and even plagiarism. Well, they're right - but they miss the point entirely. The story of The Doors is the best rock and roll story there is. It has a magical beginning, a legendary middle - and The End - everyone knows what happened in the end. And it really happened and the sound track is unparalleled.

Penned by Jerry Hopkins the story is told in a highly readable way with considerable input from its co-author Danny Sugarman, - the original Wild Child. Published in 1980, it was the first of a series of books to tell the story of the life of Jim Morrison and the Doors. It had an amazing effect on the surviving Doors, propelling them into a second wave of fame.

Before this book, The Doors had a dedicated cult following but even at the peak of their powers, The Doors were not as big as the surviving Doors members would have you believe being overshadowed at the time by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and numerous others. But the cult following was always there sharing the bootleg recordings that circulated all over the world.

The new generation that grew up in the '70s discovered them. Echo and the Bunnymen, who later covered People are Strange for the movie Lost Boys and Ian Astbury of The Cult, later to sing with Ray and Robbie in The Doors of the 21st Century - all of whom, curiously hailing from The Beatles birthplace, Liverpool - were amongst the teenagers inspired by The Doors in the '70s. But it was the publication of No-One Here Gets Out Alive that revitalised The Doors' fame. And they enjoyed a further revival in their fame in the 1990s with Oliver Stone's movie based largely on the book.

This is a great book. If you've never read it - you must. If you've already read it, you must read it again. Read the depiction of Jim Morrison living on a rooftop tripping, the story of how he improvised the Oedipal lyrics of The End at The Whiskey, the Miami incident and Jim Morrison's death. The best rock and roll story ever told.

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