“Light My Fire” And “Reading Rainbow” On The Ed Sullivan Show
Forty-five years ago, on September 17, 1967, The Doors performed for the first and last time on The Ed Sullivan Show. The variety program which had introduced America to The Beatles three years previously, was consistently one of the most watched shows in America and could help establish a successful career for a comedian, singer, band or any entertainer.
Before singing their hit Light My Fire, live on national television, the band was warned by a Sullivan show staff producer not to sing the word “higher” when the phrase “girl we couldn’t get much higher,” came up. It was suggested Morrison the poet, come up with another word; “flier”, “wire”, it didn’t matter, just not sing “higher.” The band was told the word “higher,” could imply illegal drug use and was inappropriate for a family program like The Sullivan Show. The Doors were furious and argued their point, but eventually relented and told the producer they would alter the lyric. As soon as the producer left the room, The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison declared to the rest of the band “We’re not changing a word.”
The Doors first performed “People Are Strange” and then launched into “Light My Fire.” Morrison of course kept the word “higher” in the song.
Sullivan was livid and offstage, a furious staff producer cornered The Doors and chastised the band telling them they would have been on the Sullivan show six more times but now “you will never appear on The Ed Sullivan Show ever again.” They were banned.
Jim Morrison looked at the producer and said, “Hey man, we just did the Sullivan show.”
Jimmy Fallon has the ability to imitate a wide range of musicians from Neil Young to Bob Dylan. So give him the chance to reproduce The Doors set from The Sullivan Show; get musicians wearing the exact same costumes and playing the exact same instruments and do a “Doors” version of, what is to me, an obscure PBS TV show theme song, Reading Rainbow, and you have a recipe for brilliance and hilarity.
Here is Jimmy Fallon as Jim Morrison performing a Doors song that never existed, “Reading Rainbow.”
And below is the original song for Reading Rainbow.