The Doors' Densmore draws crowd at Zia
Fans wait up to three hours for drummer's autograph


 

John Densmore
Photo by Sharlene Celeskey
'The Doors' John Densmore autographed his book, 'The Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison's Legacy Goes on Trial,' at Zia Records, Mill and Southern avenues in Tempe, Ariz. on Dec. 13, 2013.

When I open Facebook a wave of excitement comes over me when I see in bold letters “John Densmore of the Doors” Book Signing at Zia, 3201 S. Mill Ave. Tempe, AZ, Dec. 13th 7 p.m.,” in my news feed. After I get over my surprise, I begin planning how to make sure I get this famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted drummer’s autograph.  First step is to find my copy of his book, “The Doors: Unhinged,” which I previously purchased at Zia Records during Record Store Day.
           
When I first saw Densmore at my first concert The Doors it was so important I still remember the details:

Place: Veterans Memorial, Columbus, Ohio
Date: Nov. 2, 1968 at 7:30pm
The Tour: Waiting for the Sun
Seat Assignment: 3th row for $5.50
The Singer: Jim Morrison in white jeans and red sweater
The Highlights: fire curtain going down with police threatening to close the show, premier of their new unrecorded future hit, “Touch Me,” and my best concert experience ever.
          
After replaying these magnificent memories over again, I start sharing Zia’s post with friends on Facebook, hoping a friend will go since it will be a long wait in line.
           
Friday, Dec. 13th arrives and I head off for the new Zia Record store in Tempe with Densmore’s’ book.  Luckily, I had stuck the receipt inside it because it is required for the signing.  My friends have previous plans so I will be standing in the dreaded line alone.  
           
Make it to Zia at 3 p.m. and I see no one in line outside the store.  Where is everyone?  This man is a legend. Walk around the store and only find a book display for Densmore’s bright red and black book.  Walk over to the high counter to show my book with receipt intact and a young clerk puts a thin hot pink paper wristband on my right wrist explaining that fans start their own line.  Also, he informs me Densmore will autograph two items so I mill around the store and pick up the brand new album, “The Doors,” a special Record Store Day release. I quickly snatch it, buy it and walk aimlessly around the store looking for a line. 
           
Then I see a 30s something, bearded man carrying a black guitar case standing outside.  I go and stand behind him, asking if he is first in line and he nods yes.  Then a young college girl and her longhaired elder brother stand behind us.  When no one else comes, we discover the line is inside by the “The Doors: Unhinged,” display.

Darn, now I will be seventh instead of second.  I watch the young bearded guy unzip his guitar case and carefully lift out a bright blue guitar autographed by both the Door’s guitarist Robby Krieger and the late keyboardist Ray Manzarek. This is his second item he wants autographed. As the line grows longer I glance around to see what others brought and I see: many vintage Doors albums, some new Doors albums and CDs, a giant four-foot drum stick, and a Doors concert program from the ‘60s in pristine condition. 

When I look at my watch, I still have over two hours to go, so I strike up a conversation with the college student from outside and she talks excitedly about her favorite artists, all old classic rock bands. I find it refreshing that she shuns today’s overproduced computerized contemporary music in favor of older rock. Then I overhear the bearded guy and several middle-aged men talking about great guitarists and I turn around to join in.  The four of us talk about bands from the ‘60s and the ‘80s and then backtrack to the ‘70s.  We all attend a lot of concerts, have vast music collections and love to talk about anything music. What a rare treat it is discussing rock with music junkies for two hours. Time passes quickly; then we descend into silence when we spy a short thin man with thick white hair entering the store. He is immediately hustled into the employee area by a Zia staff member. The drone of the crowd escalates as fans talk all at once about Densmore’s arrival.  His casual stroll into the record store escalates the level of excitement. After checking my watch I count down the minutes until the book signing begins.
           
The line now extends around three sides of the store and consists of all ages from pre teens to 70 year olds.  Doors’ fans talk animatedly to strangers around them, share Doors stories, amiably discuss which song and album is their best and why they spend their Friday night in Zia Records to obtain the Doors’ drummer’s signature of a book most haven’t yet read.
           
Finally, the 69-year-old famous drummer walks over to the signing table and starts signing his first book.  Now I feel nervous about what am I going to say and find I lost the white index card we received to print the verbiage we want for the signing. I feel disappointed that it will not be personalized but my anticipation grows.  As I watch and listen I observe how cordial and friendly he is.  
           
After three hours of waiting to see the drummer whose band’s pictures graced my high school locker, I walk up confident and smiling while greeting him with my book. Surprisingly he doesn’t worry about my absent index card and asks what I want on the book. I feel ecstatic that he is personalizing the book. While I hand him the new Doors’ album I tell him how the Doors was my first concert in November 1968 and he chuckles and simply says, “That was a long time ago.”  He stops, looks intently at the new special Doors’ vinyl, checks out the song list on the back and says, “So, this is what it looks like.”  He signs the front cover, smiles and hands it back while I make small talk, thank him and depart.

He will patiently sign his book for just over two hours for approximately 250 people. I stand around for 20 minutes longer to take pictures and watch the other fans’ interact with their idol.  Most want a photo with Densmore and to shake his hand, but they all move along without extending their time.
           
I exit the store. I see a line outside full of eager fans hoping to get in to get their books signed. Feeling happy I arrived early, I smile all the way to my car.  Wow, what fun book signings are and what a wonderful way to spend hours on a Friday night with liked minded rock-and-roll fans.

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