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Doors Drummer John Densmore Opens Up About Legal Battle With Bandmates

John Densmore
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Doors drummer John Densmore has been making the publicity rounds for his new tell-all memoir, ‘The Doors: Unhinged — Jim Morrison’s Legacy Goes on Trial.’

He recently told ABC News Radio that the legal battles between himself and the band’s other surviving members, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, stem from the group the two put together using the Doors name without Densmore’s involvement or consent.

“The Doors got knocked off their hinges a few years ago for a few years with the concept that Jim Morrison didn’t need to be the lead singer, and that doesn’t fly,” Densmore said, referring to the Doors of the 21st Century band Manzarek and Krieger formed with Cult singer Ian Astbury a decade ago. “The Stones without Mick, that doesn’t go, you know. Jim’s iconic, and so I had to initiate a legal struggle to straighten that out, and Jim’s estate joined me.”

Manzarek and Krieger countersued for $40 million, claiming that Densmore was hurting them financially (the 68-year-old drummer also denied Cadillac permission to use a Doors song in an ad). According to his memoir, Densmore was branded a radical who hated the U.S. He was even accused of funding al-Qaeda. “[It’s] comical now,” he said. “But at the time I felt terrorized.”

Densmore and Morrison’s estate eventually won the court battle — “The Doors are Ray, Jim, Robby and John, and not Ray, Robby, Fred, Tom and Herman,” said Densmore — which didn’t make Manzarek and Krieger too happy. But Densmore said he’s sent copies of his book to his former bandmates, in hopes of patching things up.

Apparently it’s worked a little. Densmore told ABC News Radio that they’re talking again, and he’s even open to performing with his old bandmates under the right circumstances.  “We’re e-mailing each other,” he said. “Healing has begun. I’m putting out the idea that maybe if we played together again as a benefit … that would be sweet. Not go on tour — Jim’s not around — but that’d be a nice reunion.”

Next: Top 10 Doors Songs

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