Jay Z Wrote Letter to the Doors' John Densmore

Rapper helped explain hip-hop to skeptical drummer

Jay Z, John Densmore.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Jerod Harris/WireImage
August 14, 2013 10:55 AM ET

Rock and hip-hop intersected in an unlikely place when Jay Z and Doors drummer John Densmore struck up a correspondence in the early 2000s, the rocker said yesterday in a segment on HuffPost Live

The drummer said that when Jay Z sampled the Doors' "Five to One" on the rapper's 2001 album The Blueprint, he didn't understand the point. "Hip-hop was just coming on, and I was like, 'What is this stuff? There's no melody,'" Densmore said. "I was a curmudgeon."

100 Greatest Artists: The Doors

Jay Z got word of Densmore's skepticism, and got in touch. "Jay Z wrote me a letter saying, 'Hey, we're fighting the authority just like you guys did back then,'" Densmore said. The rapper also sent him a Def Jam T-shirt, which he held on to. 

Skip forward a decade and Densmore found himself quoting Jay Z. While writing his book The Doors: Unhinged, Densmore turned to some of Jay Z's thoughts on success from the rapper's book Decoded. Densmore related to the experience of financial success not equating to happiness, and used some of the rapper's lyrics to further explore the effects of fame and the impulse to self-destruct. "I took a photo of me in this T-shirt, which I saved, and sent it to him and said, 'Hey, would you give me some of these words?"

Also in the segment, Densmore said he got a chance to smooth over strained relations with former bandmate Ray Manzarek before the keyboardist died in May. Densmore had objected when Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger toured in 2002 using the Doors name, resulting in a decade of strife.

"Fortunately, I had a closing phone call," Densmore said.


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