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Behind The Doors - The Story Of A Legendary Band's Road Manager


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Treanor's rational perspective provides generally unvarnished accounts of what is erroneously accepted as history...the melodrama quotient is minimal here, in marked contrast to many prior publications devoted to this enduring band.
Behind The Doors -The Story Of A Legendary Band's Road Manager
Vince Treanor
522 Pages
Aldus Boek Compagnie

Vince Treanor's Behind The Doors is unlike any other book to date devoted to the iconic Sixties band. Granted, the author indulges in his share of hyperbole (usually devoted to The Doors early live performances). But he is just as scathing, if not more so, in his criticism of various personages, including but not limited to the bandmembers who appear in his story. If it's possible to seethe with equanimity, this man is a master at it.

An early devotee of classical music, Treanor broadened his horizons by learning to build and maintain organs while also helping to mentor a high school band in his native Andover Massachusetts. Both endeavors thus comprised his qualifications to become the indispensable organizational savant for Jim Morrison and company from 1967 through 1972.

From that unusual perspective, he established and honed a largely objective and often jaundiced view of their operations as well as the burgeoning music business at large in the late Sixties. Treanor's insights are thus quite keen, often unforgiving but never self-righteous (and perhaps even self-effacing to a fault at certain junctures). He is ever candid in framing his declamations, but also pulls no punches in the rationale behind them: his 'no drugs or alcohol' proviso for crewmembers, for instance, is the definition of common sense as a means to efficient time management.

The Story of A Legendary Band's Road Manager does not purport to be a biography of The Doors. It is instead a generally chronological timeline of seventy-six chapters and five-hundred twenty-two pages that read like excerpts from Treanor's personal journal. The seemingly random insertion of graphics like venue photos and tickets sprinkled throughout the manuscript only add to the sense of informal intimacy.

But such images also further a down-to-earth atmosphere that quite effectively deromanticizes that rock and roll star lifestyle which to the outsider seems nothing less than glamorous. Treanor's nuanced depictions of the laborious presentations of live concerts and the often excruciatingly slow progress of studio recordings don't add to the mystique of these musicians. As a result, the melodrama quotient is minimal here, in marked contrast to many prior publications devoted to this enduring band.

Treanor's rational perspective provides generally unvarnished accounts of what is erroneously accepted as history. For instance, he is purposeful in his narration of that famous 1969 night in Miami when Morrison alegdedly exposed himself, while his various other pointed refutations of accepted "facts" gain credence because he was actually there on stage, in the office, or en route to a scheduled event (usually with the equipment, the latter-day version of which he custom designed for The Doors).

His account of the event that led to Jim Morrison's legal woes and its adverse effects on The Doors' career sheds light on the contrived nature surrounding the controversial event. This was also the case with the New Haven Connecticut occasion where "The Lizard King" was arrested on stage mid-performance: Treanor doesn't so much deliberately set out to debunk the myths as simply render the actions of those involved in a straightforward manner that robs them of disproportionate significance.

Treanor's greatest strength as the writer of The Story Of A Legendary Band's Road Manager is the alacrity at which his narrative proceeds. Except perhaps for his recurring scabrous portrayal of Doors' manager Bill Siddons, he wastes virtually no time belaboring any points in the story line. There's no question he sometimes loses himself in explications of technical aspects of his work, but that's a shortfall easy to forgive, especially as such lapses don't happen that often and certainly not frequently enough to undermine the author's generally enthusiastic tone.

On the contrary, Treanor's descriptions of sightseeing on the road and the camaraderie arising from the often grueling travel are compelling. Descriptions of catching the northern lights on tour in Europe, for example, easily offset those driest of interludes devoted to pure jargon. In contrast, the cumulative momentum of a suspenseful subplot involving The Doors' movement to new management is irrefutable.

The depletion of the group's creative reservoir is coincidental with the very point the quartet's popularity ripened, (or perhaps over-ripened), so the conjuring of drama comes almost out of nowhere within this timeline. At such junctures, Treanor is always careful to couch his perceptions in that of a genuine fan, one with a healthy detachment from the subject at hand, whether it's the overproduction of The Soft Parade (Elektra, 1969) or the post-Morrison five-man alignment of the group.

Behind The Doors does become bogged down in some monotony by its midpoint, largely through the repetitive accounts of Doors concerts. Better that Treanor merely summarized his general impressions of the shows in musical terms, then spelled out the otherwise notable aspects of a given appearance from his personal point of view—accounts of clashes with union regulations and scurrilous promoters are cases in point.

Still, Treanor ultimately distinguishes himself by the noticeable lack of bitterness in his voice about the various indignities he endured during his tenure with the group. Likewise, he is gracious in enumerating the sequence of events involved in his roundabout firing from his position in The Doors' organization: here, as throughout this book, he sounds genuine, if ever so slightly forced, in relating his gratitude for the opportunities his employment with the band otherwise presented.

Readily available on-line direct from its Dutch publisher, Behind The Doors -The Story Of A Legendary Band's Road Manager nevertheless has no United States publisher. Perhaps when such an arrangement comes to fruition, a revised version will contain appendices like a bibliography, discography and perhaps even a concert database, in addition to the list of acknowledgements and people referenced in the book.

Such additions are certainly not necessary to reinforce the impact of Treanor's distinctive voice, but there's no doubt such supplementary material would add scholarly polish to a work that otherwise transcends mere academia and idol worship.

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