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Ray's use of the Vox in '69


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#1 crazyhorse80

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 01:54 AM

Does anyone know why Ray switched back to the Vox organ instead of the Gibson for a few gigs in 1969? He used it on the PBS special and also if my ears served me right, on the Aquarius concerts which were unofficially The Doors' "comeback" concerts after Miami?

Does anyone think that this switch-back to the Vox was a direct response to the negative critical reception of The Soft Parade and Ray's and/or the band's attempt to re-capture the "early" Doors sound? I myself have always preferred the deep, resonating sound of the Vox and would like to hear more concerts where Ray uses it, and because of the fact we might not see too many of the "early" 67-68 shows released, does anyone know of any other 69-70 concerts that Ray used the Vox at that might see the light of day on Bright Midnight one of these days? And any other thoughts on Vox vs. Gibson in The Doors' sound?

Edited by crazyhorse80, 29 October 2010 - 01:55 AM.


#2 veg

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 06:39 AM

Great post. Certainly one I'll have to think about... :)
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#3 ChrisN

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 03:03 PM

What a great question. I've wondered about that myself and here's my theory: By '69 the Doors had changed...arrests, the Buick tv commercial fiasco, a change in sound. I think Ray was already nostalgic for the early days when they received a lot of praise as being the mysterious, eerie, psychedelic quartet and wanted to recapture a little bit of that magic with the Vox which was their sound at that time. Since they were being recorded he chose to use it on PBS and at the Aquarius. Unfortunately, I think the Vox that he chose to use didn't exactly have that same sound. He used to use the American wooden key version in the early days and in '69 I believe he's using the Italian version of the Vox and it's played through solid state Acoustic amps, not the tubed Vox and Fender amps he used in the clubs.

I own both organs and like them both for different reasons. The Gibson is solid with a lot more effects onboard (sustain, different vibratos, etc) and if you hit the wrong key on it, the sound is much more forgiving. You hit the wrong key on the vox and everyone knows it. Plus the vox organ seems more prone to breakdown. But nothing looks or sounds as cool as the vox and when I go to play When the Music's Over (my favorite song) I just love that Vox under my fingertips. My guess is nothing sounded cooler on this planet than seeing a Doors show at The Whisky or Ondines or The Scene Club and that would be the Vox organ!

As for other times Ray used the Vox after 69 he did use it a lot on the Morrison Hotel album (Peace Frog, Land Ho, Ship of Fools) and it was also used at another concert that's bootlegged, I think it was in Seattle during 1970 but I forget. Plus it's seen in photos of them recording the LA Woman album.

I could literally talk about this subject all day but I'll stop myself here.

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#4 snowman2

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 03:25 PM

Good question,but I don't see a clear answer and I tend to think we read into it more than Ray did. I think he simply felt like using it on a whim. He used an American Continental on PBS...you can tell by the color of the drawbar tips and the cross braces meet at a single point. In the Aquarius shows it was a different vox an Italian one. He used those in the early days too... I have a photo of Ray during Strange Days sessions and he was at the studio using an Italian Connie.

Anyway, I don't think it was a conscious effort in response as a criticism. As we all know...He played the Gibson exclusively in LIve in 1970. I think he was simply in a Vox kinda mood during that time in 69.

ChrisN...I could discuss this all day as well....it never gets old. Although I sometimes get embarrassed that I am so interested in it. lol

Edited by snowman2, 29 October 2010 - 03:28 PM.


#5 ChrisN

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 05:09 PM

Thanks for correcting me on the PBS Vox Snowman. I was working from memory which is always a recipe for mistakes. I'm surprised about the Strange Days Italian Vox photo, I didn't realize they were even making Italian Continentals in 67. Did you see the recent issue of Mojo magazine? There are some more Strange Days studio photos, one has Ray building his keyboard.

Almost positive the 1970 show where he used a Vox and not his Gibson was Seattle in June but I only have this show on cassette and have no cassette player anymore. He might even start with the Gibson, have a mechanical problem and switch to an available and easily found at the time Vox. That's definitely the show because I can hear "Someday Soon" in my head with a screaming Vox sound.

Also, I was reading the notes in the Aquarius disc and one of the Doors stipulation for recording a live album was to use a small, intimate venue so maybe he used the Vox because that's what he used to use in small, intimate venues. This idea was obviously scrapped when they had to record more shows in larger arenas across the country to make Absolutely Live.

#6 veg

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 05:53 PM

Of course Ray could've used a Vox at the Aquarious shows for more prosaic reasons... his Gibson bust and, as you guys say, he brought in his Connie to fill in... but I am positive I read somewhere (Ray's book or the blurb released when the Aquarious shows first came out?) that Ray used a Vox during the Aquarious shows on purpose, and yeah I recall it was to recapture that early Doors sound, and to help put all the Miami madness behind them.

I have never had a play on a Gibson, so I am serious jealous of the guys on this board who own them. I am sure that Ray switched to a Gibson originally because it was more versitile in terms of tabs, vibrato settings, etc., and gave more breadth of sounds as the band were gaining momementum and filling stadiums. Were Gibsons more reliable, too, though? I know Ray had problems with the wooden keyed Connies and switched to plastic keys (or vice versa?) but I am also aware that Vox organs had an atrocious reputation for reliability. Don't know much about U.S. models... but over here in Europe, I understand the Spanish built ones were worst, followed by the UK built models, with the best being built in Italy.

Having owned a UK built Connie MkII some years ago, I can honestly say it was the least reliable combo organ I have ever owned, with one or more boards having a fault more often than not.

But I guess when Ray switched back to Connies in 1969 he could afford to have another organ on stand-by, in the event it let him down...
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#7 snowman2

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 06:07 PM

Wonderful imput you guys... wow we are learning from each other. Chris, thanks for correcting me on the 1970 concert...I didn't realize Seattle was a Vox... I don't don't I've heard any of that show :unsure: As for the Italian Connies, they started making those in late 66 after production of the US wood key Connies stopped. Vox organs are fragiel,but I've never had an issue with mine or my Gibson,but I don't gig and they pretty much sit in one spot. They are certainly very different beasts though. I've got a pretty good photo of the guys at an early 66 concert with Ray on the Gold bass an Italian connie.. I'll post it later when I get home as it's not on this computer.

Ray says that he switched because the Vox organs started being poorly made and he played too hard breaking the keys..(I have never done this.lol) and he chose the Gibson because it had a flat top. Gibsons are very well made though...very sturdy IMHO. Some people have commmented how they don't like the Gibson because it has a honk, wonk sound,but I love it...obviously I love the Vox too,but these two organs are so different, I try not to compare them a whole lot.

#8 Roughie

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 06:43 PM

I like the harpsichord on LMTT!

Just to be different! :lol:
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#9 snowman2

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 08:55 PM

I like the harpsichord on LMTT!

Just to be different! :lol:


Me too Roughie. Someone else recently asked about just that on Facebook..said they read on Wikipedia that it as a Clavinet.. Ray himself said it was a real Harpsichord..sounds so good too.

Oh and there's one of the photos showing Ray in Concert...1967 using the Italian Connie. I'm sorry if this has been posted elsewhere before. I love this pic. I think I'm gonna recreat this pic this weekend..I get my Italian Connie back from repair tomorrow...it's never met his goldie bass friend. :lol: Hope it plays as good as my US connie.

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#10 Roughie

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 09:18 PM

Cool pic, wonder what he is singing? Don't forget to recreate the cowboy! lol

How could they think it was a clarinet?

Edited by Roughie, 29 October 2010 - 09:19 PM.

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#11 snowman2

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 10:44 PM

Cool pic, wonder what he is singing? Don't forget to recreate the cowboy! lol

How could they think it was a clarinet?


LOL No....not a clarinet...a Clavinet. It's a keyboard instrument that's sounds like a cross between a guitar and a harpsichord... Ever hear Stevie Wonder's superstition? It's the main instrument in that song.

#12 Roughie

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 10:50 PM

LOL No....not a clarinet...a Clavinet. It's a keyboard instrument that's sounds like a cross between a guitar and a harpsichord... Ever hear Stevie Wonder's superstition? It's the main instrument in that song.


LMAO oops misread it! HAHA I know what a clavinet is too. Wouldn't surprise me with Wikipedia though!

Superstition is a great song.

Edited by Roughie, 29 October 2010 - 11:05 PM.

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#13 snowman2

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 01:18 AM

[quote name='Roughie' date='29 October 2010 - 11:50 PM' timestamp='1288392656' post='358526']
LMAO oops misread it! HAHA I know what a clavinet is too. Wouldn't surprise me with Wikipedia though!

Superstition is a great song.
Thats too funny!! Hmm wonder what a clarinet would have sounded like! :D

Oh ChrisN In addition to that pic above with Ray using the Italian Connie, we know that the one on the LA Woman sessions was Italian too as heard on Love her madly.

I just got an Italian Connie yesterday. My USA connie was made in 66..they made them only for about 3-4 months and the Date tag on my Italian connie is Nov 66. I must say, this early Italian connie sounds really good...as good if not better than my US. I think it's likely that first connie he got was the US version...he said he went through about 6-7 of them and I am willing to bet most of them were Italian.

#14 Shebang

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 09:10 PM

Oh ChrisN In addition to that pic above with Ray using the Italian Connie, we know that the one on the LA Woman sessions was Italian too as heard on Love her madly.

I just got an Italian Connie yesterday. My USA connie was made in 66..they made them only for about 3-4 months and the Date tag on my Italian connie is Nov 66. I must say, this early Italian connie sounds really good...as good if not better than my US. I think it's likely that first connie he got was the US version...he said he went through about 6-7 of them and I am willing to bet most of them were Italian.


Are the Vox Continentals not repairable? I always assumed that Vince Treanor did the repairs at the Doors workshop.

#15 snowman2

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 09:31 PM

Are the Vox Continentals not repairable? I always assumed that Vince Treanor did the repairs at the Doors workshop.

Good question Shebang. Thats the thing, they are very repairable so I don't know why they treated them as disposable. I actually just picked up another one last weekend and the owner had it since 1980 without a single problem at all. It's actually one of the sturdiest continentals I've ever seen and it was made Nov 1966. I'm not sure if they just didn't want to mess with them or what,but they are not as flimsy and you would think

#16 Roughie

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 04:30 AM

Good question Shebang. Thats the thing, they are very repairable so I don't know why they treated them as disposable. I actually just picked up another one last weekend and the owner had it since 1980 without a single problem at all. It's actually one of the sturdiest continentals I've ever seen and it was made Nov 1966. I'm not sure if they just didn't want to mess with them or what,but they are not as flimsy and you would think


I'm jealous of your collection. One can dream. Not likely to find any here in NZ!
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#17 snowman2

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 02:46 PM

Haha. No need to be jealous...it's just stuff. I will say this...if you really want to find some of these and you look alot...I mean search the net almost every day, you'll find one. Even though alot of people don't want to, some are willing to ship internationally. Good luck and if you ever need help, let me know what you are looking for and I'll keep my eyes open for you!

#18 jim4371

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 03:05 PM

Are the Vox Continentals not repairable? I always assumed that Vince Treanor did the repairs at the Doors workshop.

Ray stopped using the Vox as his regular instrument in September of 1967. Vince was hired in December 1967.

#19 snowman2

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 04:59 PM

True...and while we may not see a particular instrument, I bet they still kept some around...I know they went through several US wood key connies and several Italians...I've counted 4 piano basses and about the same Gibson G101s. Any touring pro band is going to go through equipment pretty . I do however think that Ray probably liked not only the versatility of the Gibson,but also unlike the Vox, they were the only band(that we know of) that used the Gibson..gave them a very unique sound. All speculation on my part of course,but I would think that stands to reason why we see the Vox for cerain performances in 69,but on all the major tour stuff after that we still see the Gibson.

#20 snowman2

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 02:12 AM

With all this Vox talk, I figured I'd update this with my newest Continental. An Italian one like Ray is playing in the pic posted above. Dare I say, it's even better than the first one I got with wood keys...never thought I'd say that.


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