I’ve been in the marketing/advertising biz for over 30 years. And with the exception of a handful of very cool projects, working with Slash for the L.A. Zoo, and Guitar Hero for Aerosmith, I’ve never really had the opportunity to market a band. My background is graphic design and illustration so it’s no surprise my collection is driven by what I find visually appealing. I began to look at the ads created by Elektra and placed in music trade publications like Cash Box and Billboard. I found them all to be striking and began to research and collect them.
I found it fascinating as to how Elektra chose to market certain songs and albums. What they said about each and how they chose to visually represent their idea or concept. Maybe photography of the band, an illustration in the case of the “Light my Fire” ad, or simply just show the album.
The Doors appeared on the cover of Cash Box Magazine in November of 1967. Their debut album released in January of 1967.
Cash Box is a defunct music industry trade magazine that was published weekly from July 1942 to November 1996. It has since been revived, as Cashbox Magazine, as an online-only weekly that occasionally publishes special print issues. Cash Box was one of several magazines that published record charts in the United States. Its most prominent competitors were Billboard and Record World (known as Music Vendor prior to April 1964). Unlike Billboard, Cash Box initially combined all currently available recordings of a song into one chart position with artist and label information shown for each version, alphabetized by label. Originally, no indication of which version was the biggest seller was given, but from October 25, 1952, a star was placed next to the names of the most important artists. Cash Box also printed shorter jukebox charts which included specific artist data beginning in the spring of 1950. Separate charts were presented for juke box popularity, record sales, and radio airplay, similar to Billboard’s methodology prior to August 1958, when Billboard debuted its “Hot 100,” which attempted to combine all measures of popularity into one all-encompassing chart. In addition, Cash Box published chart data for specific genres, such as country music and R&B music.
Signing with Elektra Records in 1966, the Doors released eight albums between 1967 and 1971. All but one hit the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum or better. Their self-titled debut album (1967) was their first in a series of Top 10 albums in the United States, followed by Strange Days (also 1967), Waiting for the Sun (1968), The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970), Absolutely Live (1970) and L.A. Woman (1971), with 20 Gold, 14 Platinum, and 5 Multi-Platinum album awards in the United States alone.
By the end of 1971, it was reported that the Doors had sold 4,190,457 albums domestically and 7,750,642 singles. The band had three million-selling singles in the U.S. with “Light My Fire“, “Hello, I Love You” and “Touch Me“. After Morrison’s death in 1971, the surviving trio released two albums Other Voices and Full Circle with Manzarek and Krieger sharing lead vocals. The three members also collaborated on the spoken word recording of Morrison’s An American Prayer in 1978 and on the “Orange County Suite” for a 1997 boxed set. Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore reunited in 2000 for an episode of VH1’s “Storytellers” and subsequently recorded Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors with a variety of vocalists.
A full page advertisement for The Doors “White Hot Single” Light My Fire in this issue of Cash Box magazine. The Doors ads were always carefully designed, conceived, written and always a bit provocative and intriguing. This one has a great illustration and hand drawn typography. I’ve often wondered how much Jim and the band were involved in the advertising of the songs and albums.
The L.A. Woman poster I’m told is extremely rare.
*The “Hello I Love You” is a favorite of mine. Would have made a killer poster. These ads often show up on ebay advertised as poster ads. They’re ads, not posters.