Fred: Danny Sugerman died on January 5, 2005. On his tombstone it's written, "There are things known and there are things unknown and in between are the Doors."

The last couple of years Danny and I became close friends as we worked together getting his book, 'Wonderland Avenue' adapted into a screenplay. The idea was to get the screenplay finished and then get it into development and then on to having it made into a movie. I promised Danny before he passed away that I would continue with the project until it was finished. Danny's brother Joe and I have now joined forces to make this happen.

In the last part of 'Wonderland Avenue' there is a quote, which says: "That's one of the wonderful things about human beings, we can and often do change, not always gracefully and not often willingly, but occasionally just like that, in a snap, we change. Sometimes fast, sometimes slowly, sometimes for no reason at all or maybe a hundred and fifty."

Danny's change was unbelievable. He took the quote, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" quite literally. Danny was a cat with 18 lives - I don't know how he survived it all.

At the end of Danny's long road, the wisdom that he got from it all was that it is a matter of choosing life over death. He wanted his book to show people how far and how deep into the pits of hell being a slave to drugs would take him. He was on that wild, mad hatter's drive to put anything into his system that would get him high or knock him out only to see if he would survive. Time and time again he repeated this.

Then he finally got to that point at the end of the book where he snapped and made a change. He realized that he wanted to live and didn't want to be a slave to drugs. From there, he kicked it and went on to co-author 'No One Here Gets Out Alive' which was a major event in the rebirth of The Doors. The book made people want to know more about the Jim Morrison myth, the legend and the real truth behind it. Danny was a pivotal character in reviving The Doors.

I think people should remember that he was 12 years old when he was opening fan mail for the band only because Jim Morrison had taken him under his wing. Shortly after this Jim died. It was a sustaining experience for him that he never got over.

I've had many conversations with Danny over lunch, together at my office or at his office where we ended up talking about Jim Morrison and what an impact he had made on him.

Jim was almost a brother/father figure but also kind of a star figure to him. He wanted to be so much like him and near him. He opened the doors of knowledge for Danny because Jim hand picked a ton of books for him to read, which he did read, and that's really where his education came from. Because Danny saw that Jim liked words so much, he turned out to be a very, very good writer himself.

'No One Here Gets Out Alive' and 'Wonderland Avenue' are just a couple of things that I think are miraculous. Danny also published 'The Doors Illustrated History' and 'The Complete Illustrated Lyrics.' His introductions to these books about The Doors are so well written. He really understood The Doors and he understood Jim Morrison.

Kerry: Yes, he did! Danny always impressed upon me that he was just a fan. He wanted Doors fans to understand this. He was totally impressed with the band and caught up in it just like everyone else. His goal was to do whatever he could to make the whole thing continue and to make other people understand the same feelings that he had. I think this is what made his writing so effective.

Fred: Yes. He knew that the Doors' music was different and was going to be universal. He told me that Jim and The Doors weren't ever going to die because of this and it has been true for several generations now.

Ray and Robby, along with Ian Astbury on vocals, are now out there keeping the music alive. That's a good thing, but I think the legacy that Danny's helped create is that you know he took part in writing the book that woke everyone up one more time about what The Doors were about; what Jim Morrison was about; and how different they were from anyone else in the music at that time. And they continue to be a part of our life and our culture.

There must be 14 or 15 different tribute albums to The Doors. I just keep collecting them.

Kerry: Me too! I just got a 'String Tribute to The Doors' the other day. They just keep coming out!

Fred: I know they had a lot to do with it. It must've been '93 when they came out with the book, 'No One Here Gets Out Alive,' right?

Kerry: No, it came out in '81 just after Apocalypse Now. It was that film and that book that pushed The Doors into the spotlight again, 'cause nothing happened in the late 70's.

Fred: Danny closed with something in the book that was pretty touching. He really got into talking about Jim Morrison. Danny emotionally never got over Jim's death. I think the other thing about "the road of excess…" living life idea, is that he knew there was something that he had to fulfill in his life when Jim left this earth - and that was to keep the Doors' music in play in our culture and to continue writing about Jim and The Doors. He had a great talent for it and was able to do it.

Kerry: Still today people are picking up No One Here Gets Out Alive, reading it, being blown away by it and then becoming fans. A lot of people don't know that Danny was very instrumental in getting Ian Astbury to play on the VH1 Storytellers and in continuing on to be the singer in The Doors of the 21st Century / Riders on the Storm band. Danny was the one that put that whole thing together.

Fred: Danny was instrumental because he knew Ian had a husky voice and could sing those songs similar to Jim's style; well, not as good as Jim but close enough that you could dig it, you know? Ian Astbury fits the bill and he does that very well. I think that's why the band is experiencing continued success.

Kerry: Yeah. It's just one more of Danny Sugerman's works that continues on after his death that keeps bringing people into the Doors' music.

Fred: How long did you known Danny?

Kerry: I got to know him back in 1991 when we started 'The Doors Collectors Magazine' - that was the first time I was in contact with him. It began as a business relationship but when he saw the first issues of the magazine and understood what we were all about, the relationship grew from there. It turned out to be a 14-year friendship.

Fred: When you made friends with him, he was very loyal. I can tell you that I enjoyed my relationship with him and want to let people in on something that only a few people know.

Many years ago, my son picked up two pebbles from on top of Morrison's grave. I had given Danny one of these years ago. The one I gave him was a little black pebble as big as your fingernail. The one that I kept for myself had a tiny piece of sand in it and when you put it in the light, it sparkled like a diamond.

When Danny passed, I gave my little pebble to his wife Fawn, to put in his casket on his chest. He is buried with it and it's there with him now. It's a symbol. He always felt that Jim was a diamond that would continuously glow. He mentioned this in his writing. Having that little pebble with Danny made me feel good - like there is a connection from the place where he is buried in Hollywood to the place where Jim is buried in Paris. That's how much Danny meant to me.

I told you in our previous interview of the impact 'Wonderland Avenue' has had on me and others. I continuously get email from people asking me, How is the project going?, Are we going to get this into a movie? And they ask me personal questions about Danny and his life. Danny has a substantial following. People really want to see his book made into a movie.

I made a promise to him, and his brothers feel as strongly as I do, so I think the film's going to happen. It comes down to film development, which is very slow, and the business right now is a little crazy. We have to find not only the right people but also the right combination of people. We have some money down on it so the possibility of this thing getting started in the year could come true.

Kerry: I hope it does. You know it's another testament to what Danny has done to keep The Doors alive.

Fred: The good thing about adapting his book into a screenplay is that I met him early last year before he started to get really sick. We were having lunch together in his office. I got to know Danny; we had similar interests. Though there are lots of situations in the book we would discuss, he'd tell me more - about things that weren't mentioned in the book - things about Morrison that he would have incorporated into a revision had he lived long enough. Some of those I incorporated into the screenplay and he was pleased with that. The film will present information on Morrison that people don't already know. People question Morrison's shocking behavior but oftentimes there was a reason for it, you know?

Kerry: Can you share any of that with us?

Fred: Sure. I think it was Bo Diddley who was playing at the Whisky, and no one was paying attention to him. Jim had had a few drinks and jumped up on the stage and started using the "N" word. People were thinking, what a racist fool. I asked Danny why Jim did this. Danny said first of all you got to know that Jim liked black people, loved their music. Going back to that moment, Danny said Jim gave him a little smile and said, "I had to wake them up." Like at the end of "When the Music's Over" … "Wake Up!" you remember as Morrison screamed on the Live Album. If people, and they were mostly a white audience, were going to ignore a really good artist trying to put on a show then Jim would wake them up by saying the "N" word. There are a number of similar things that I got out of Danny about Jim like that. Like he knew how to manipulate and control a crowd and put them into a frenzy while he was performing. Jim was always thinking in those ways.

Danny told me that Jim wasn't always drunk 'cause he wrote so much. He couldn't have been the prolific writer and lyricist if he was always drunk. Granted, he did go on wild drinking sprees and he liked to have his drink. There's an incident when Danny was opening the fan mail. He felt a presence, looked over his shoulder and there was Jim. It was about 10 o'clock in the morning and Jim was dressed in a nice white shirt, hadn't gone out the night before and had had a good night's sleep. Then there was the time when they talked about death. Danny said, "You're going to be this comet across the sky and then you're gone." Jim smiled and said, "I want to be that comet. I also want to be a candle burning at both ends. When I'm on stage, I'm burning my flame full on because I don't know if I'll make it to the end of the performance. And then when I go out and live my life to the fullest, I don't know if I'll see the dawn. What's the time limit of the two flames meeting? I don't know."

Kerry: 27 years. That's the limit.

Fred: But you know, Danny said to me, "My candle had two ends too, but mine burned longer."

Kerry: Danny had more lives.

Fred: Eighteen of them. The other thing I'll tell you is that in his final days Danny wanted to make sure that we always talked about Jim Morrison and his book and The Doors too. He was saying to me that he was touched that I felt that he had done so much for them, and for the music and for Jim. I said to him when he was getting weaker and weaker, "You can go in peace with that." Danny always had Jim on his mind and was hoping to meet up with him again. He told me that the moment he heard Jim was dead, the lyric "It hurts to set you free but you'll never follow me," was the one that he thought about over and over again, feeling that the end was perhaps more about unfading love.

The thing about Danny is that he understood the music. Jim taught him about the books that had had the most impact on his own life. Danny witnessed a lot of the music being performed and talked to Jim about the lyrics. He was one of the few people that Jim opened up to.

The last and best thing I would like to say is that I hope we remember him for what he did for Jim Morrison and for keeping the music alive. There is no turning out the lights. The light is still on. Danny should be thought of fondly; what Jim meant to him is clearly written on his gravestone.

Danny said to me before he died, "If you really want to know what Jim Morrison meant to me read my closing line from the introduction to the Doors' lyrics book."

"Jim Morrison is not dead. His spirit lives on, in his music and in these lyrics, shining with incandescent brilliance, a fusion of light and dark made diamond bright and eternal. 'Cancel my subscription to the resurrection,' he sang.
Not likely, Jim.
This is not the end."

That's why I gave Danny my pebble, the one with the diamond sparkle in it, from Jim's grave. Let's close by saying, "This is not the end for Danny either."

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