Indispensable for fans of one of rock music's most flamboyant and controversial groups is Doors drummer Densmore's insider's look at hard-living singer Morrison, who died of a drug overdose in 1971. Like the trashier (and bestselling) biography No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugarman, the book in hand provides numerous examples of Morrison's self-destructive behavior. But Densmore's love-hate relationship with the self-proclaimed ``Lizard King'' leads him to paint a more sympathetic picture of the doomed superstar, whose rebellious rock-poet persona is still worshiped today by fans (``Jim's decay was the dark side of an already very dark vision''). Densmore's detailed account of the Doors' rise and fall is often narrated in a glib style. But his extensive use of Morrison's lyrics thoughtfully reinforces his main concerns: Densmore's belief in music as a ``new religion'' on a par with his rejected Catholic upbringing; his ongoing attempt to build ``an inner life'' to match what he depicts as a heady and confusing musical career; and his ``guilt over failing to save Jim.'' Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Such is the mystique, the iconoclastic reverence, the enduring commercial success and marketability of Jim Morrison, enigmatic lead singer of the Doors, 19 years after his death, that Densmore, founding Doors member and drummer, is repeatedly upstaged in his own autobiography. Densmore's inside-out account of the group's history perceptively examines relationships, dynamics, creative evolution, difficulties, and artistry, but Morrison in his many guises--angst-ridden poet, Lizard King, pop icon, and alcoholic--invariably dominates every chapter, story, and anecdote. In fact, Densmore addresses significant chunks of italicized text directly to Morrison in a therapeutic attempt to reconcile his own ambiguous feelings, often becoming overly confessional. This book should be very popular, especially as filmmaker Oliver Stone's anticipated Doors movie will undoubtedly create a new wave of Jim Morrison/Doors mania. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/90.-- Barry Miller, Austin P.L., Tex.