Doors no more: High court refuses to hear band members' appeal

Legal News Line Aug. 22, 2008, 2:44pm

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Two former members of the 1960s rock band The Doors will have to pay about $5 million in compensation to other members of the band for their use of the band's name during a 2002-2003 tour.

On Thursday, the California Supreme Court denied an appeal by former band members Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, of a court ruling that awarded compensation to former Doors drummer John Densmore, the parents of late singer Jim Morrison and the parents of Morrison's wife, Pamela Courson, who is also deceased.

The award included three years of legal fees stemming from the intense battle over The Doors' brand, their songs and especially Morrison's image.

Manzarek and Krieger joined Ian Asbury, the former lead singer of The Cult, on a tour they called "The Doors of the 21st Century." The groupd played many Doors songs, including the hit, "Light My Fire." Densmore refused to join the tour.

In 2005, the courts sided with Densmore, who sued his former bandmates for using the name.

"You can't call yourselves The Doors because you can't have The Doors without Jim Morrison," Densmore's attorney said in his arguments.

The four original band members signed a deal in 1970 that any business deal would require a unanimous vote of all band members.

Densmore has used the agreement to block advertisers from using the iconic rock band's songs. Since Morrison's death in 1971, the band members and Morrison's heirs have split the ongoing royalties from The Doors music and memorabilia.

A state appeals court upheld the original ruling.

The tour grossed more than $8 million. None of the profits were given to Morrison's family or Densmore.

Manzarek and Krieger still tour and still play The Doors' songs, but they now call themselves "Riders on The Storm," a title of one the band's top hits.

The Doors was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

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