It seems unbelievable that this Blog is four years old and I am only now posting about John Densmore, the drummer for The Doors. I went through a Doors phase in college where I listened to the band on a daily basis and I have just about everything they put out on CD. As my tastes changed I lost interest in the band although I’ll still stop and listen to them when they come on the radio. Like The Door’s music Densmore’s drumming was always unique. What I noticed about Densmore was he referred to himself as a “percussionist” in every interview he did. Apparently he thought of himself more than just a drummer.
According to his official website: “I was in the orchestra and the marching band with those stupid uniforms, I got a rush from playing with 40 musicians, no matter how amateurish–there’s power in a marching band.” He became enamored, in his teens, with jazz–and particularly with the playing of drummer Elvin Jones, whose evocative, muscular grooves with John Coltrane’s band influenced a multitude of rock musicians. He also became a habitué of the L.A. club scene, where bands like The Byrds and Love were a foretaste of things to come.
Along with his 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Densmore, as a member of the Doors, was recognized in 2007 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also in 2007, Densmore and his band mates were awarded a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement. Densmore wrote his best-selling autobiography, Riders on the Storm (1990), about his life and the time he spent with Jim Morrison and the band.
Over his years with the Doors, Densmore used a variety of drum sets, including Gretsch and later Ludwig. He also used Zildjian and later Paiste cymbals. Here’s a transcription of one of Densmore’s smoother grooves courtesy of Redeye Percussion (Click image for full-size):