How The Doors Never Got Invited Back To The Ed Sullivan Show
A Controversial Performance
After appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, several rock acts became household names and were catapulted to another stratosphere of stardom. For others, however, they became talk of the town for another reason – they got banned for life. Then again, it was no big deal because rockstars were naturally rebellious and so they wore it like a badge of honor.
And that’s pretty much what happened when The Doors made their appearance on Sept. 17, 1967. Jim Morrison, being his usual unpredictable and unapologetic self, was clearly not someone who likes being told what to do. It was just a few months after they struck gold with Light My Fire so it was kind of a given that they would appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Rehearsals went well that afternoon and just 15 minutes before they would go on air, Ed Sullivan stopped by the band’s dressing room and told them, “You boys look great, [but] you ought to smile a little more.” After he left, a producer came in and told The Doors that since the show needed to be more family-friendly, they had to sing “Girl, we couldn’t get much better” instead of “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher”. They didn’t want anyone singing about drugs.
That should be simple enough, right?
Well, Jim Morrison was furious but the other members assured the producer that they will go by what he told them. When he left the room, Morrison said, “We’re not changing a word.”
When The Doors took to the stage, they first performed People are Strange before launching into Light My Fire. Morrison, ever rebellious, went ahead and sang the original lyric. Guitarist Robby Krieger was caught on cam with a smirk, he probably knew Morrison would do that. Backstage, the producer told them, “Mr. Sullivan wanted you for six more shows, but you’ll never work The Ed Sullivan Show again.”
Morrison replied, “Hey, man. We just did the Sullivan show.”