50 Years Later, The Fire Still Burns: 10 Covers Of The Doors’ "Light My Fire"
This month marks the 50th anniversary of The Doors releasing their iconic single, "Light My Fire," which put them on the map in a big, big way. Like, we're talking seriously big. We're talking about a level of awareness that ultimately involved the song being covered by people like Johnny Mathis and Boots Randolph. That's right: the guy who played "Yakety Sax," a.k.a. the theme to The Benny Hill Show, covered "Light My Fire." While that would be plenty enough proof for most people as to how big a deal the song and, in turn, the band had become, here are 10 other covers that should definitively seal the deal for anyone. 50 years later, and "Light My Fire" is still burning as brightly as ever.
1. Jose Feliciano (1968)
We might as well kick things off with the single most successful cover of the song, one which climbed all the way to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Born in Puerto Rico and blind as a result of congenital glaucoma, Feliciano used his skill as a guitarist to adapt “Light My Fire” into a Latin style, and its success led him to win Best New Artist at the 1968 Grammy Awards as well as Best Pop Song of the Year.
2. The Lettermen (1968)
By 1968, The Lettermen definitely weren't one of the hippest bands around, but that didn't stop them from giving it the old college try - see what we did there? - by tackling covers of songs by cooler artists. If nothing else, you can't fault their choice of material...or their harmonies, for that matter. (Cool or not, those guys could sing!)
3. Clarence Carter (1969)
If you don't know Carter from his single "Patches," then you almost certainly know him for delivering the classic "Strokin'" unto the world. If neither of those tracks particularly float your boat, however, you can always fall back on his interpretations of other people's compositions...like, say, something by Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger, for instance.
4. The Four Tops (1969)
Levi Stubbs had a way with delivering a lyric that could make the ladies swoon, and you’d better believe that the way he wrapped his lips around the line “come on, baby, light my fire” was one that set more than a few listeners alight.
5. Trini Lopez with The Ventures (1969)
Although fans of The Dirty Dozen may know Lopez best as an actor, his stock and trade has generally been that of a musician. That said, he landed somewhere between the two when he scored his own variety show in the late ‘60s, and this track is taken from the show’s soundtrack.
6. Stevie Wonder (1969)
As soulful in its own way as The Four Tops’ version, Wonder makes the track his own through his distinctive vocals and with a strong Motown musical arrangement swirling around it.
7. Shirley Bassey (1970)
Dame Shirley would be deemed a legend by most even if she hadn’t been graced with a title from Queen Elizabeth II, thanks to her contributions to the James Bond franchise. (Go on, admit it: you can hear her singing “Goldfinger” in your head right now, can’t you?) Bassey is also legendary for her interpretations of other artists’ material – if you haven’t heard her version of P!nk’s “Get the Party Started,” you’re missing out – so the fact that she tackled The Doors is hardly surprising.
8. Ananada Shankar (1970)
No, the last name and the picture of a sitar on the front cover of the album are not coincidental: Ananda, who died in 1999, was the nephew of Ravi Shankar. While this comes from his self-titled debut album, Ananda continued to record almost up to his death, with his final studio album, WALKING ON, being released posthumously.
9. Al Green (1971)
If Reverend Al – yes, he truly is a reverend, and he has been for quite some time – can take a song by the Bee Gees and make it into one of the most soulful covers of the ‘70s, it’s a given that he can take a track by The Doors and make it something special.
10. Mae West (1972)
Yes, that Mae West. Yes, in addition to being an actress, she was also a singer. But just to put it out there for those who aren’t already aware of it, this track found its way onto a volume of the classic GOLDEN THROATScompilations, so don’t say you weren’t warned.