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The Doors in Concert

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Published on Mar 6, 2010

The Doors Live Onstage Video
May, 1968

On May 19th, 1968, my brother and I took our girlfriends to an outdoor rock concert - the Northern California Folk-Rock Festival at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Besides the Doors, other performers at the venue were the Grateful Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Company (Janis Joplin's group), Country Joe & the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, Steve Miller, Taj Mahal, the Youngbloods, the Sons of Champlin, the Loading Zone, and a few other San Francisco bands from that era.

My brother Mark thought to bring our dad's 1962 era Bell & Howell "Zoomatic" 8 mm movie camera -- the exact same model with which Abraham Zapruder captured the assassination of JFK. No batteries, no electronics, just a wind-up spring for power. As far as anybody knows, this is the only known footage from this concert. There are lots of still shots on the Internet, but no video.

After trying unsuccessfully to get the remaining Doors to sign off on allowing me market this footage on E-Bay -- they asked me to "donate" it to their archives -- fat chance, I've decided to upload it for all the world to see instead. Mark entrusted me with the film, so I had the original 8 mm Kodachrome footage remastered digitally. The images were passed through an aerial image optical system from a projector to a high end camera which then sends the signal directly to a DVCAM/Mini DV deck.

It's in color, about three and a half minutes long (the last half exclusively of the Doors), however there's no audio. Repeat; THERE'S NO AUDIO. Those old 8 mm movie cameras weren't set up for sound at that time. But Jim Morrison's performance that day was captured beautifully. All his strutting, flopping around, his infamous olive-green leather pants, and at one point, nearly falling off the stage.

This concert took place 16 months before Woodstock. It was the progenitor of many of the outdoor concerts that followed, before they came crashing to a halt at Altamont. I don't know how many people were there, but we were stoned, stinky and stupid ... and happy. Pot smoke wafted all around, and nobody seemed to care. If you were around the Bay Area during those days, you know what I'm talking about. It was a great time and place to be a teenager.

The footage begins with about 30 seconds of the camera panning the audience. Then it shows a skydiver parachuting into the crowd. Then a few seconds of panning hippies, yippies, and freaks as we rocked out to the performers onstage (and a momentary glimpse of yours truly as I tried to find my way back to my place in the crowd). Then the Youngbloods, Country Joe & the Fish, and finally, the Doors.

Country Joe McDonald himself got wind of this footage through my friend Ricardo who works with Joe's wife, so I sent him a copy on DVD. After more than 45 years of championing human rights, saving whales, opposing wars, and entertaining an entire generation, I figured that's the least I could do. He still lives in Berkeley, and still tours, mostly in Europe now where he's more popular there than here for some reason. Thanks again Joe!

I hope you enjoy it.

UPDATE: Thanks to a very knowledgeable viewer, a bit of a bonus has turned up in this video. At the 1:50 mark, there is a young man with a camera on a tripod wearing a light blue shirt. That young man is none other than Harrison Ford! It turns out he was an assistant to the band, building stages, etc., and happened to be on a camera that day.
Much thanks to Logan for this information!

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