Never Had a #1 Hit… The Doors

I’m taking a quick break from the usual rundown to give a mention to the bands and artists that we will never meet at the top of the UK singles chart. If you were following along, wondering when (*insert name of your favourite act*) were going to finally appear in this countdown, then I got some bad news for you…

(I’ll do this in chronological order, with acts whom we would have met by now – i.e. in the fifties, sixties and early seventies.)

Up today… One of the sixties’ most iconic bands…


I dunno about The Doors, really. Do I like them? Were they as good, or as bad, as people say? They’re a band that seem to inspire extreme reactions, based around whether you think Jim Morrison was a lizard-leather-sex-God, or a bit of an arse.

Plus, most of the Doors’ songs that I enjoy never made it to the British charts – ‘Touch Me’, ‘Love Her Madly, ‘Love Me Two Times’, ‘People Are Strange’… In fact, for such an iconic, influential band, they only ever had four charting singles in the UK Top 75! Which shocked me, I have to admit. Here they are:

‘Light My Fire’, #7 in 1967

A US #1, and their only Top 10 hit in Britain. A sixties classic, and a pretty simple song really. It’s either about sex, or drugs, or both, with a snazzy Louis XIV riff to start and end. I like that the backdrop to this performance in the video is lots and lots of doors hanging on the wall. (Meanwhile, ‘Light My Fire’ will top the charts, much later, and in a very different version.)

‘Hello, I Love You’, #15 in 1967

Another US #1 – part of the reason why I chose The Doors for this feature is the difference between their success in the two countries – with a cool riff and some trippy sound-effects. There was only three years between ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ and this and, while they cover the same topic, the difference in sound is quite something.

‘Riders on the Storm’, #22 in 1971

A seven-minute-long bit of self-indulgence, if you ask me… But the band’s 3rd highest charting single in the UK!

‘Break On Through (To the Other Side)’, #64 when re-released in 1991

This is more like it. Quiet, then loud – loud, then quiet. Morrison sounds raw and ferocious, before the drugs took their toll. And that was it. Four hits (if you can call reaching #64 in the charts, twenty years later, a ‘hit’.) They’re a band that managed to go a long way – and become pretty legendary – without much of a back catalogue. Style and looks over substance?

One more chart-topper-less artist, coming up tomorrow…. And we’re going back a little further to find him. A rock ‘n’ roll idol, dead now, (and he didn’t die recently, if that’s who you’re thinking of…)


15 thoughts on “Never Had a #1 Hit… The Doors

  1. The funny thing about the Doors chart success in the U.S. that I learned from the Stereogum column is how their 3 Top 10 hits were all Morrison singing about how horny he is. Light My Fire and Hello I Love You were their #1s while Touch Me was their other Top 10 hit peaking at #3 in 1969. No matter your thoughts on The Doors, they definitely are an important band in rock. I like their music just fine though it does feel like Morrison’s larger than life persona and death overshadows the music. Still Light My Fire is a jam especially the long version with endless organ and guitar solos. My sister told me a funny story of her high school English teacher being at a show where The Doors opened for Simon & Garfunkel. Him and the crowd being all Simon & Garfunkel fans they were not the biggest fans of The Doors’ performance to say the least. There’s also a funny part in Linda Ronstadt’s recent documentary where she remarked on seeing The Doors in LA when they were starting out and thought they could be a hit band if they got rid of the lead singer.

    • They are very marmite – people either seem to find them overrated or better than The Beatles. Plus, Morrison does come across as fairly unlikeable, though to be fair he did have his demons. I like plenty of their songs, but in the UK they are almost an afterthought to the other huge sixties bands, and I bet many people would struggle to name three of their hits.

  2. Light My Fire is a good solid song…and if Hello I Love You would have made it…they could have thanked the Kinks for borrowing their riff.
    The Doors…I’m not the biggest fan at all…but this does surprise me on how few singles charted.

  3. I loved Morrison’s voice, It’s soulful and throaty…and does not match his face at all. I had a Doors box set at one time. That being said, he was a weird one somebody. I was only four when he died. My parents were not Doors fans so, I didn’t grow up with it being played in my house with albums but, I heard enough on the radio.

    Morrison is part of the 27 club:

    Ever heard Adam Ant’s version of “Hello, I Love You?”

    I got sick of “Light My Fire” and definitely didn’t like Feliciano’s version. I just watched “Touch Me” (the TV show version), again and remembered about Krieger’s black eye. LOL!

    • He does have a great voice, and he was pretty darn handsome. I guess the fact that he died so young means that people who loved him never stopped, while those who were unconvinced by him never got the chance to change their minds…

      I’ve actually visited his grave in Paris, and there were some people holding a vigil, smoking a joint – this was maybe 2009 – so he still resonates. And then this American tourist with a fanny-pack (sorry to stereotype!) came along and announced in a huge voice – ‘Guys, it’s Van Morrison’s grave!’ It was very funny.

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