Celebration of the Lizard
A RELIX Interview with Danny Fields
By Toni. A. Brown and Leslie D. Kippel
Danny fields is a very popular figure in the music industry today. He has been a part of many young musicians’ lives, and seen many of them through success and failure. His involvement continues as he guides many a new-comer over the pitfalls of the business. This interview is a brief recollection into his relationship with Jim Morrison and the Doors.
RELIX: How did you first meet James Douglas Morrison?
FIELDS: I was an independent publicist at the time, and I had promised to return a favor for a friend of mine in L.A. I was to do some publicity for a band coming east called “The Doors.” When they arrived, they were booked to play Ondines, a small rock and roll club in mid-town, NYC. I remember how impressed I was by the band—especially the lead singer. A song called “Light My Fire” kept spinning through my mind. It was a very catchy number.
The next day, I walked into the offices of Elecktra Records and told them I was the publicist for the Doors. The folks at Elektra were thrilled, and immediately accepted me! The music business was so loose in those days!!! At that time, Elektra had just chosen the Doors first single. “Break on Through,” b/w “End of the Night.” That was January, ’67.
After that first Elektra meeting, I went down to the club where the Doors were rehearsing and introduced myself to them. I gave them a brief run-down on some of my ideas for promotion. I asked if I could talk with each of them individually. That was when I first met Jim.
RELIX: How did Jim act at that first meeting and what was your first impression of him?
FIELDS: He was trying to be dramatic. It was one of the many moods and theatrical performances I was to observe throughout my relationship with him. I found him to be as charismatic off stage as he came across on the stage.
RELIX: When was your peak period of involvement with Jim and the Doors?
FIELDS: That probably was when Jac Holzman of Elektra had me start up the Publicity Dept. of his record company. The week I started, “Light My Fire” hit the number one spot on the charts. That was May, 1967.
Up until that time, there really hadn’t been too much promotion for the Doors, so it was time to get things in motion. The first thing I did was approach Howard Smith of the Village Voice and tell him about a new musical sex symbol. Howard got a copy of that Joel Brodsky photo of Jim, the one of him bare chested, wearing the string of beads. It was extremely flattering and sensual. Once that photo appeared in the Voice, the media began to recognize Jim as a sex symbol. [In later years, Jim admitted to resenting that picture. It was too good, and he felt he never looked as good as the picture made him appear. He always felt he had to live up to this image the picture seemed to portray.]
Later that summer, in my continuing publicity campaign for the band, I had arranged a television interview from L.A. to N.Y. with Gloria Stavers of the trendy 16 Magazine.
The only way of guaranteeing that the interview would take place according to plan was for me to fly out to L.A. and at a pre-arranged time, get Jim to a phone and hook the two together for this major interview.
Jim and I were staying at a place that everyone called the Castle. After finishing the interview, which went somewhat poorly, he was supposed to follow me in his car. Naturally, Jim had to be difficult. He was the worst person to have follow you. He would stay just out of sight so you had to keep slowing down and waiting, and pulling over to the side of the road for him to catch up. Finally, arriving at our destination, Jim was ready to party.
RELIX: What sort of girls did Jim hang out with?
FIELDS: That was one of the things that annoyed me about Jim. He always had these trolls—druggies and groupies all around him. He always made himself available to them. I felt that as his publicity agent, I should try to do something about it.
Two lady friends of mine were at the Castle—Nico and Dee-Dee Segewick. Nico was one of the Warhol girls and had been a cover girl in her native Germany. She sang with the Velvet Underground and she loved to drink, as did Morrison. Nico adored dressing in black leather, something else I found her to have in common with Jim. She had long silver-blond hair that accentuated her ageless beauty, I thought Nico and Jim would make a great combination. My plan was to get them together and, hopefully, elevate his taste in women.
When I introduced the two of them, all they did was stare at each other. Just stared—did not speak a word! They never stopped looking at each other or at the same things. They were like two cats. They watched each other’s movements, followed each other around the house, but did not say one word at all!
That night, Jim wanted to get a little high, so he smoked about ¼ ounce of hash I’d had, swallowed my entire stash of ups, dropped a few hits of LSD, and downed it all with two quarts of vodka. I saw him do all this, and he was still going strong!
RELIX: Was all this natural for Jim or was he trying to shock everyone?
FIELDS: Oh no!! He was just trying to get high! He got so stoned that I started to get nervous. I was worried that he was going to decide to go for a ride, so I went down to the car and hid the keys. I’m glad I did. No sooner had I done this, when Jim decided that he wanted to leave. So, he went down to his car but couldn’t find the keys. We were isolated and didn’t have a phone, so he couldn’t call for a cab either. But by then it didn’t matter, he was really off in his own world.
RELIX: How did the rest of the evening go
FIELDS: Well, it was pretty quiet until about 3 A.M. I was in my room, when I looked out of my window into the Spanish style courtyard. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Jim and Nico were standing out there under the full moon in the middle of the fountain. Jim was pulling Nico’s hair, and she was screaming. He never said anything, just kept on pulling her hair. Suddenly, he ran into the house, and Nico, in her deep voice, just stood there in the water sobbing.
I had just recovered from that scene, when I glanced up, and there was Jim—stark naked—dancing along the edge of the parapet. I watched him until he bopped out of sight. Well, somehow we survived the night.
But that was how Jim did things. He had to be the center of attention. Like the very next day, we went over to a friend’s house who had a pool. When Jim hit the water, everyone got out. He was an incredible swimmer and truly beautiful to watch. He actually took up the entire pool with his presence.
RELIX: About some of the shows the Doors did, are there any events that really stand out in your mind?
FIELDS: Boy!!! I remember that show in Forest Hills, N.Y. when the Doors played with the Who. The Who opened the show, and after their set Pete Townshend told me that the audience was real tense and ready to explode. So, I thought, I should tell Jim about it, Jim responded with, “How can you tell?”—and he walked away. Well, the show ended with a riot and about 20 people were taken to hospitals.
RELIX: Did you notice any changes in Jim as the Doors became more popular?
FIELDS: Well, one night we went to Max’s in New York for dinner—Jim didn’t say a word all night. He even pointed out his order to the waitress. He was acting like a 6 year old, making everyone feel uncomfortable.
RELIX: Morrison seemed to like dangling people from his own self-styled parapet. Do you think this was his favorite form of self indulgence and amusement?
FIELDS: Oh yes! There was another night at Max’s—we were sitting around the table and he was too stoned to go to the bathroom. So he took an empty wine bottle and pissed into it. He kept doing it all night. At the end of the evning Jim was smiling and in good spirits. The waitress was cleaning the table and he told her that since he couldn’t finish the wine, she should take it home and enjoy it. The waitress was so thankful—Jim Morrison gave her something!
RELIX: Boy, that bottle would probably be worth a fortune today!!!!! How did things actually go on the Ed Sullivan Show?
FIELDS: Not that bad really, aside from tearing down the whole set—and after promising not to use the line about getting much higher, singing it anyway. The sponsors went wild.
RELIX: Did you find the other members of the Doors resenting Jim?
FIELDS: No. They knew which side of their bread was buttered on. I think they thanked the Lord for Jim Morrison. They all knew he possessed a magnetism that they lacked. They also knew that their music was unique and that Jim was a major influence on their music. None of them would have wanted to take his place.
RELIX: Did Jim have to be watched on the day of a performance to insure he would arrive on time?
FIELDS: They hired Bobby Neuwirth to be his drinking partner, an alcohol companion that would guarantee getting Jim to the gigs. Bob said that he understood heavy drinkers and that he could handle the job. He used to boast about his long time relationship with Dylan, and having seen Janis Joplin and other heavies through the alcohol scene. Well, for a few months, Bob did his job—but after a while, he had to give up. He just couldn’t handle Morrison and he quit.
RELIX: Any other stories that come to mind? How about that legendary night at “The Scene” in New York?
FIElDS: Ah yes. I remember—the night when Jimi Hendrix was performing there. Jim was very drunk. Hendrix was jamming and it was quite late. I noticed some commotion way up front at the stage, and there was Jim crawling across the floor toward Hendrix. When he finally reached him, he wrapped his arms around Hendrix’s knees and started screaming “I wanna suck your cock!” He was very loud and Hendrix was still attempting to play. But Morrison wouldn’t let go. It was a tasteless exhibition of scene stealing—something Morrison was really into. To top it all off, Janis Joplin, who had been sitting in the back of the room, suddenly appeared at the edge of the stage with a bottle in one hand and her drink in the other. She had a strong dislike for Morrison, whom she referred to as “that asshole.” She stepped in and hit Jim over the head with the bottle—then poured her drink over him! That started the three of them grappling and rolling all over the floor in a writhing heap of angry hysteria. Naturally, it ended up in all three of them being carried out. Morrison was the most seriously hurt. His bodyguards were summoned and he was driven away. I’d heard that earlier in the evening, Jim had knocked a table full of drinks into Janis’ lap.
RELIX: What was the relationship between Joplin and Morrison prior to this?
FIELDS: They had met at a party and got very drunk together. Jim suddenly became rowdy and grabbed Janis by the hair, pulling her head to his crotch. She broke free, and when he left, she ran after him, trying to hit him with a bottle. They both frequented Barney’s Beanery, and I’m sure they’d see each other there often. Before Janis died, they had both made some amends for which Jim was grateful.
RELIX: Did Jim ever get together musically with any of the San Francisco bands?
FIELDS: No. He hated them. He considered himself a “New York—L.A.” person. This dislike arose when the Doors weren’t invited to play at Monterey. They were very upset about it. They just weren’t accepted. One night, Jim went to the Fillmore East to see the Airplane. The audience was heckling the band and Grace Slick remarked sarcastically. “Oh, I see Jim Morrison is here tonight—you must be Doors fans.” This only increased Morrison’s dislike for the Bay area musicians.
RELIX: Do you think the myth of the man, Jim Morrison, is probably greater than it would have been had he lived?
FIELDS: Yes, I think Jim did the right thing by dying at the age of 27. But seriously, I think he did what he was happy doing and that he believed he’d lived a good life.
RELIX: Jim and Pamela Courson retained a relationship of sorts for a long period of time prior to his fame until he death. Do you think Jim was capable of a serious, giving and loving relationship?
FIELDS: Not for any period of time. Jim could be violent at times, often with a women he didn’t know very well. But his relationship with Pamela was pretty positive.
RELIX: How did Pamela react to Jim’s death?
FIELDS: She’d found his body in the bathtub in Paris where they lived then. When she returned home to California, I flew out there to be with her. She was living in a little house in Sausalito with Sage, her golden retriever. Pamela was obviously quite despairing and she was all of the proof there was that Jim had actually died. So, there was Pamela with her dog. Everytime the dog would make a sound, she would kneel beside him, and in a soft voice would ask, “Yes, Jim? What are you trying to tell me?” She truly believed that Jim’s spirit had certainly returned in the dog.
“This is the end, beautiful
This is the end, my only friend.
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes again.”