Wild Child, the premiere Doors tribute band, will headline an upcoming Jim Morrison celebration at the Paramount in Huntington, NY on January 7th, at the Gramercy Theatre in New York, NY on January 8th, and at The Fillmore in Silver Springs, MD on January 9th. The band is led by Dave Brock, who is by no means a newcomer to the Doors scene. He was chosen by Anna Morrison Graham to play the lead in The Jim Morrison Rock Opera, and both Robby Krieger and the late Ray Manzarek both anointed him to handle the Lizard King’s vocals on tour.
Krieger remarked, “I think when people came to see Ray and I, they want to see us do the Doors music the way it should be done, so why not use a guy who is really an expert? He knows the songs better than we do, really.”
Jim Morrison died on July 3rd, 1971, and left behind a mystique that no mere mortal could ever match. Although handsome as Adonis and arguably as lyrically gifted as anyone in rock except for Bob Dylan, Morrison was imploding for some time before his death.
Meanwhile, Dave Brock’s healthy physique strikes a visage from the stage that tears at the heart strings of a fan, causing one to wonder what might have been had Jim been saved from his own excess. Brock and Wild Child’s ability to transport us magically to what a Doors tour might well have been today, and is not to be taken lightly. We chatted with Dave Brock about Wild Child, the Doors, and the upcoming shows.
L4LM: At different times, all three Doors have stated that you are the closest singer to Jim Morrison that they have worked with. That is high praise, and we have to ask what it has been like playing with them?
Dave Brock: The best and most fulfilling thing that I have ever accomplished professionally. After two decades of performing these great songs to look to my right and left and see Ray and Robby on stage with me was a fantasy come true, to say the least. From the very first show with them, they treated me like a full member of the band, as if I had been with them a long time. Neither of them advised me or told me to how to deliver this show. I tried to be a trouble free front man without all the drama that usually comes with that position. We got along great.
Many times Ray would ask me what songs I would like to do on tour. I went for some of the more obscure tunes that he would go along with. He would say, “Okay, let’s do that one.” (Black Train, Money, Summers Almost Gone…).
Up to our last show, Ray never showed signs of weakness. He was always the first to the bus and first to the stage, rallying the band together. He kept his illness to himself until a few weeks before the end. He was truly a great man!
L4LM: What was it like to have Jim’s sister Anna Morrison-Graham choose you to play her brother in ‘The Jim Morrison Rock Opera’?
DB: I was the last one to audition. I guess I did a pretty good job because, the producer, Jim’s sister, Anne, came up to me after I was done, brought the photographers over, took pictures, and I thought, Wow, this IS really neat.
L4LM: The Doors never really toured with the material from the LA Woman album due to the loss of Jim. Tell us how you became a part of rectifying that?
DB: In 2011, Manzarek-Krieger toured, and featured songs from the LA Woman album to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the record. We will likely hear some of those songs this time around, too.
L4LM: John Densmore and Robby Krieger have spoken of a more extended tribute to Ray Manzarek in the near future. Can we realistically hope for that, and might you handle vocals?
DB: That would be nice, but I don’t think it’s going to happen, other then perhaps a charity benefit at some point. John has spoken along those lines, I believe. I don’t see him going on a tour with Robby. John was against touring with the Doors songs, as far as I know. I think John would rather leave it alone in favor of leaving it to memories when they were all a unit. On the other hand, Robby loves to play music for the fans. It is in his blood. Robby continues to thrill the fans, and give them what they want.
L4LM: Last year you blew through New York like Hurricane Gloria. What can the fans expect this time around?
DB: This trip is even quicker, three shows in three days. Then we are back on the plane. Never overstay your welcome, and be the last one at the party. This cast of Wild Child is the best band I have ever had. There are tens of thousands of musicians in LA to choose from, and I found the best.
L4LM: Were you ever tempted to play any tracks from the records the band released after Morrison passed on? Some true fans might really like to hear your interpretation of them.
DB: When I was with Ray and Robby, we worked up “Ships with Sails” and did that a few times. The songs from those albums were a departure from “Jimbo” type of songs they had done in the past. I don’t think Jim would have gone in that direction. At that point if Jim were still alive and wanted to write songs again, I think he would have sank deeper into the Blues or maybe even evolved into a Blues Country style artist? After all he did predict that was the way music was going. He was right.
L4LM: Jim Morrison has a mystique that is as deep and unique as any found in the history of rock and roll. What is it about Morrison that has extended his popularity into the start of 2016, while many other artists are forgotten?
DB: Many things: His complexity, intellectual lyrical content, He was a sex symbol, his rebellion of the norm, the songs were so good and much more. His early demise also makes one think of what could have been. Brilliance, joy, excitement, sadness and sorrow are some of the elements of his persona. There is also a limited amount of non concert footage that leaves one wondering what he was really like off stage. most of the non concert footage that exists does not appear to be “candid ” in nature. He knew the camera was there and manipulated what was on it. Perhaps guarding his true self from invasion?
L4LM: What positive things did the Doors leave to us, and what pitfalls did they teach us to avoid?
DB: The music will always be with us. Each song paints a picture. I have no favorite, they are all just part of the same movie and I love the movie.
The pitfalls are many and should be avoided! When I get a chance, I always try to steer young Doors fans away from the over indulgent drug and alcohol life discovery process that Jim took. He did not have to do that. He was a very intelligent and learned person. You don’t have to destroy yourself to find out about life and the things enclosed in our universe and dimension to be enlightened. There are better ways, you must remain alive and healthy to enjoy any answers you find! I hate it when people try to tell you Jim had to take that course so we could learn…or it was for us….babble. They are lost.
L4LM: As a fan exits one of your performances, what would you like to have them take away from the experience?
DB: I would hope their expectations have been met or exceeded. The tribute band market is somewhat convoluted. The approach some of these acts take and quality leaves a lot of people feeling ripped off or jipped. My main approach to our show is delivering the music at sonic-ally close as possible to the original without corn ball antics or make believe statements in between songs.
If people feel uplifted in spirit when they leave one of our shows, I am happy! I see it all the time and its a good feeling.
L4LM: Thank you for your time!
For more information about the band’s upcoming East Coast Tour, head to the band’s website.
Wild Child Tribute To The Doors East Coast Tour
Words by Bob Wilson, Photos by Wayne Herrschaft