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When the Doors went on Sullivan

Doors
The Doors: Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger.

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(CNN) -- Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek remembers exactly where he was when he got the word his band would be on "The Ed Sullivan Show." He was watching "The Ed Sullivan Show."

"We watched every week to see the rock 'n' roll band," Manzarek remembers. "So my wife and I are watching the show, and Ed says, 'Next week, Steve and Eydie, Topo Gigio, and a new rock group called the Doors. [The next day] we get a call from our manager telling us we're going to be on Sullivan. We said, 'We know.' "

There was a catch, though. The band was to perform its chart-topping hit, "Light My Fire," but Sullivan didn't want the word "higher" sung on the show. The demand was passed down through one of the show's producers, who met the group in the dressing room. Manzarek remembers the band publicly agreeing like choirboys.

" 'Yes, sir,' we told him," he recalls. "'Whatever you say, sir. We'll change.' [The producer] looked at Jim and said, 'You're the poet. Think of something else -- 'wire,' 'flyer.' "

Then the Doors went out and did the song exactly as they always did. Sullivan was so furious he didn't even shake their hands.

When the Doors got backstage, they learned they wouldn't be back -- ever. "The producer said, 'You promised,' and we said, 'We were so nervous, we're just boys, we've done it a thousand times, it just came out.' He looked at Morrison and said, 'Mr. Sullivan liked you boys. He wanted you on six more times. ... You'll never do the Sullivan show again.' "

To which Morrison retorted with glee, "We just did the Sullivan show."

The ban didn't hurt the Doors' career, of course. The group's albums continued to go Top 10 and they had another No. 1 single, "Hello I Love You," the next summer. But they never did appear on Sullivan again -- a distinction that has helped immortalize the Doors' appearance over that of the many acts who appeared on the show countless times.

Manzarek laughs. "We're still talking about it 35 years later," he says. "We're still doing Ed Sullivan."



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