I'm probably not the only Doors fan living in Santa Monica who has discovered that my home turf was once the stomping grounds of none other than Jim Morrison himself - during the pivotal days leading up to the banding together of The Doors.
I researched Jim's history circa 1965, and decided to pedal my way to places Jim lived, played, and chowed down (cheap, when he was a broke UCLA student).
It was such a blast I wrote down the details so I could take friends and do the ride in to musical history again.
And the Jim Morrison bike tour through Jim's favorite haunts in Santa Monica and Venice Beach was created. I hope you'll enjoy this breezy beach ride into musical history as much as we did!
From Ray and Jim's first interactions at UCLA to their fateful meeting on the beach in Santa Monica - this is where it all began.
On a laid-back summer day in 1965, Ray Manzarek spotted fellow UCLA film graduate Jim Morrison on the beach in Santa Monica.
As they walked along the beach, Morrison sang the lyrics of "Moonlight Drive," and Manzarek filled in the melody with some cords of his own.
Morrison followed with "My Eyes Have Seen You" and "Summer's Almost Gone" after which Manzarek declared: "We gotta form a band!"
With the addition of drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger shortly after that, the iconic band "The Doors" was born.
In tribute, this Jim Morrison bike tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach was created.
The Jim Morrison bike tour is a leisurely, 3-mile beach cruise that hits the top 10 places Morrison stayed and played during those pivotal years from 1965 to 1970.
This bike tour starts at the very first place where Jim Morrison sang on stage on June 5, 1965. And if I've missed any spot, please let me know below, and I'll be sure to add it to the list.
Below is a map overview of the Jim Morrison bike tour route; click on the + (bottom right) to get a closer look at the route details.
The Jim Morrison bike tour begins at Turkey Joint West (today it's an English pub called Ye Olde Kings Head). This is where Ray Manzarek and his brothers played as Rick and the Ravens for extra spending money as the resident band.
Jim and other UCLA students flocked here for the cheap food and drinks, and to shout out requests for songs they wanted to hear.
One night, Ray announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a special treat tonight. A guest in the audience who happens to be a fine poet and a man I'd like to bring on stage to have him help me out in a special version of 'Louie Louie' - Jim Morrison!"
Jim joined Ray and the band onstage for an over-the-top rendition of "Louie Louie." The initial stage is visible today, to the left of the current bar. 116 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica.
The famous Santa Monica Pier leads from Ocean Avenue into the Pacific, resting on strong tree trunks. Not only the famous song "Under The Boardwalk" originated here, but also several well-known promotional photos of The Doors by Henry Diltz. 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica.
The Doors, returning from New York after a successful gig at Steve Paul's "The Scene," played a series of West Coast shows starting with the July 3, 1967 performance at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
The Civic Center today remains an active part of Santa Monica life, although concerts are a rarity. Located at the corner of Pico Boulevard and Main Street, the Civic Center has been revamped and refurbished and stands next to the Santa Monica Court House. 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica.
Shortly after Ray and Jim's meeting on the beach, Jim moved in with the couple at this garage apartment on Fraser Avenue, just off Neilson Way in Santa Monica near Ocean Park.
You'll find it a few houses in along a street full of charming little houses. Jim slept in the main bedroom, as Ray and Dorothy chose to move their mattress into the living room to be closer to the heater. And Jim had an electric blanket. The Jim Morrison bike tour wouldn't be complete without a stop here.
Watch Ray Manzarek give a tour of Santa Monica and Venice, including a quick tour of the exterior of the 147 Fraser Avenue apartment. 147 Fraser Avenue, Santa Monica.
Olivia's was a favorite soul food restaurant whose patrons were mostly UCLA students. Having just graduated from UCLA film school, Morrison was just as broke as hundreds of other unemployed bohemians who flooded the area in search of affordable living.
This young provocateur, known for saying outrageous and offensive things to get a rise out of people, needed a cheap place to eat. Morrison frequented Olivia's even more regularly than most.
He would spend hours sitting at a table and looking out the window as cars crawled past "all stuffed with eyes," writing poems and lyrics for the concert that he said filled his head.
Jim loved Olivia's, which was the inspiration for the song "Soul Kitchen." It is currently the home of ZJ Boarding House, a famous surf and skate shop at the corner of Main Street and Ocean Park Boulevard. 2615 Main Street, Santa Monica.
The Cheetah, a concert hall known in the 1960s for its psychedelic music, was destroyed by fire in 1979. The Doors performed at the 1,800 capacity venue on August 27, 1967 - a Sunday - and an old poster for this date lists three shows (at 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 11 p.m.). 1 Navy Street, Venice.
Several famous photos of The Doors were shot around Venice beach by Bobby Klien, the band's first professional photographer. In 1969, photographer Henry Diltz was hired to shoot additional publicity photos for the upcoming Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock Cafe album.
The band had their photo taken in front of a "Drink Coca-Cola" mural shown from the perspective of walking down an old Venice street.
The mirror image building that the mural was created to mimic is still there (two buildings to the right), with the original mural faintly visible. 50 Brooks Avenue, Venice.
Morrison, Manzarek, Densmore, and Krieger posed on Brooks Avenue in front of a faded green garage door graffitied with the infamous phrase: "I think I know the reason, but I can't spell it" for an iconic Henry Diltz photo shoot in 1969.
Although the garage doors are no longer green, you'll notice the door today is the same one Diltz captured in 1969 - minus the graffiti. 30 Brooks Avenue, Venice.
This is the building where Jim lived in the summer of 1965. He ate meals at his friend Dennis Jacob's apartment and slept on the rooftop. At night Jim would look out over the ocean and the Venice rooftops while tripping on LSD.
On this roof, Jim wrote songs like "My Eyes Have Seen You" and most of the songs for the first and second Doors albums. He also wrote most of his early poetry here.
Jim subsisted primarily on avocados and oranges that grew in yards around the neighborhood, assorted hallucinogens, and not much else.
When Manzarek bumped into him on the beach that June, he said Morrison had lost 30 pounds since the last time he'd seen him.
Not too soon after, Manzarek and his girlfriend invited Jim to stay with them at their apartment above the garage behind 147 Fraser Ave. in Santa Monica.
Today, Dennis Jacob's apartment is known as the "Morrison Apartments." 14 Westminster Avenue, Venice.
Venice artist Rip Cronk painted the Jim Morrison mural in 1991.
It's an unforgettable sight along a somewhat nondescript alleyway that is brought to vibrant life by this larger-than-life depiction of Jim at his peak.
The Jim Morrison bike tour ends here. But that doesn't mean you have to finish the ride. 1811 Speedway, Venice.
The Jim Morrison bike tour is an easy 3-mile pedal down the coast. But the ride doesn't have to stop at the Morrison mural on Speedway.
Santa Monica has several bike routes and paths you can ride before or after the Jim Morrison bike tour. Check out the Santa Monica bike map here.