When Duke Ellington took the stage at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, he was viewed as a nostalgia act. His music was considered outdated. Big bands, so popular during the 1920’s and 1930’s, seemed to be a thing of the past. Ellington didn’t even have a recording contract at the time. More than a decade removed since his last commercially successful hit, Ellington and his struggling orchestra were at such a low point, they regularly played at ice skating rinks to pay the bills. Ellington was 57-years-old. His career was going nowhere.
“Every time I hear (the song, “The End”), it means something else to me. It started out as a simple good-bye song. Probably just to a girl. But I see how it could be a goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don’t know. I think it’s sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be.”
— Jim Morrison (an in interview shortly before his death at age 27)
If 1960’s rock n’ roll was all about breaking the rules, then no pop group was more unruly than The Doors, the Los Angeles-based psychedelic rock band fronted by charismatic vocalist Jim Morrison and backed by the idiosyncratic instrumentation of Ray Manzarek on keyboards, Robby Krieger on lead guitar, and John Densmore on drums.
Al Kooper is far better known for the music and musicians he’s fostered rather than for any self-defining hit single or album of his own. In fact, many of the classic rock songs he’s played on and produced overshadowed his own extraordinary talents and musicianship.