Light My Fire (as made famous by The Doors)

“Light My Fire” is a song by the Doors, which was recorded in August 1966 and released in January 1967 on their self-titled debut album. Released as an edited single on April 24, 1967,[2] it spent three weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in late July, and one week on the Cash Box Top 100, nearly a year after its recording.

A year later, it re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968 following the success of José Feliciano’s version of the song (which peaked at number 3 on the Billboard chart), peaking at number 87. The song was largely written by the band’s guitarist Robby Krieger,[3] and was credited to the entire band. The single was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in September 1967 for 500,000 units shipped.[4] As of December 1971, it was the band’s best-selling single; with over 927,000 copies sold.[5]

A live version was released in 1983 on their album Alive, She Cried, the first of several live albums released in subsequent decades to include the song. “Light My Fire” achieved modest success in Australia, where it peaked at number 22 on the ARIA chart. The single originally reached number 49 in the UK in 1967, but experienced belated success in that country in 1991, when a reissue peaked at number 7. This reissue was more successful in Ireland, peaking atop the IRMA chart for two weeks in June. The reissue occurred due to a revived interest in the band following Oliver Stone’s film biopic The Doors. The song is ranked at number 35 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[6] It was included in the Songs of the Century list, ranking number 52. Feliciano’s cover version won a 1969 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, the same year he won another Grammy for Best New Artist.

The song originated as a Robby Krieger composition,[7] with Jim Morrison writing the second verse. Although the album version was just over seven minutes long, it was widely requested for radio play,[3] so a single version was edited to under three minutes with nearly all the instrumental break removed for airplay on AM radio.[7]

Ray Manzarek played the song’s bass line with his left hand on a Fender Rhodes Piano Bass, while performing the other keyboard parts on a Vox Continental using his right hand. After the recording session, producer Paul A. Rothchild brought in session musician Larry Knechtel to overdub[8] a Fender Precision Bass guitar to double the keyboard bass line.[9][10][11] When the Doors played the song at live concerts, Manzarek used the Fender Rhodes Piano Bass without augmentation.

The band appeared on various TV shows, such as American Bandstand, miming to a playback of the single. However, “Light My Fire” was performed live by the Doors on The Ed Sullivan Show broadcast on September 17, 1967. The Doors were asked by producer Bob Precht, Sullivan’s son-in-law, to change the line “girl, we couldn’t get much higher”, as the sponsors were uncomfortable with the possible reference to drugs. However, the meaning of the line was confirmed to be literal. [12][13] The band agreed to do so, and did a rehearsal using the amended lyrics, “girl, we couldn’t get much better”; however, during the live performance, the band’s lead singer Jim Morrison sang the original, unaltered lyrics.[12] Ed Sullivan did not shake Jim Morrison’s hand as he left the stage. The band had been negotiating a multi-episode deal with the producers; however, after violating the agreement not to perform the offending line, they were informed they would never do the Sullivan show again. Morrison’s response was “Hey man. We just did the Sullivan show.”[14]