Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: The DoorsReleased: 1967
A Willie Dixon blues song from 1961, this has been covered by John Hammond Jr. and Howlin' Wolf, among others. The Doors decided to cover this after their guitarist Robby Krieger heard John Hammond Jr.'s version.
A "Back Door Man" is a guy who has relations with a woman while her husband has been out slaving away to provide for her. The usual guilty perpetrator if a wife was caught cheating was a regular tradesman caller (Ice Man, Insurance Salesman etc.). He would then run out the back door as the husband entered the front door.
The "Back Door Man" theme has been taken up in several Soul and Blues songs, including "Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter.
At a show at Winterland in San Francisco, The Doors stopped in the middle of this when their taped performance came on The Jonathan Winters Show. They watched the segment from a TV on stage, picked up their instruments, and finished the song.
In 2000, the surviving members of the Doors taped a VH1 Storytellers
episode with guest vocalists filling in for Morrison. Former Cult lead singer Ian Astbury sang on this track. He became their new lead singer when Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek re-formed The Doors a few years later. Astbury told us: "I can really say that for me it was authentic. It wasn't something I was doing as a career move. It's something I did because I was an absolutely venerated devotee. I put them in a very, very high place." (Read more about his Doors experience in our interview with Ian Astbury
The Doors played a lot of Blues songs in their early days when they were playing clubs, but this is the only one they recorded until 2 years later, when they did "Crawling King Snake" on LA Woman.
The Doors performed this at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. The Doors didn't play well, as Morrison was worried about his trial resulting from a Miami concert where he was accused of exposing himself to the crowd. Morrison was convicted of indecent exposure, but died while the case was under appeal. In 2010, the governor of Florida granted Morrison a posthumous pardon after a fan requested a review of the case.
The Doors were playing this in New Haven, Connecticut on December 9, 1967 when Jim Morrison was arrested on stage for "giving an indecent or immoral exhibition." He was angry about being confronted backstage by police after he was seen in an allegedly sexual encounter with a young girl. When he took the stage, during the middle section of this song, he said this before three officers arrested him, making him the first rock star arrested in mid-performance:
"We started talking and we wanted some privacy and so went into this little show room. We weren't doing anything. You know, just standing there talking, and then this little man in a little blue suit and a little blue cap came in there. He said 'Whatcha doin' there?' 'Nothin'.' But he didn't go away, he stood there and then he reached round behind him and brought out this little black can of something. It looked like shaving cream. And then he sprayed it in my eyes. I was blinded for about 30 minutes."
Jim Morrison left out lyrics from the original version about being accused of murder.
The Doors often opened their concerts with this song. Typically, the concerts ended with "The End." They rarely did encores.