Classic Rock Wiki

"Riders on the Storm" is a song by The Doors from their 1971 album, L.A. Woman. It reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US,[1] #22 on the UK Singles Chart,[2]and #7 in the Netherlands.[3]



  • 1 Overview
    • 1.1 Chart positions
  • 2 Cover versions
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


According to band member Robby Krieger, it was inspired by the song "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend". The song is played in the E Dorian mode, and incorporates real sound effects of thunder and rain, along with Ray Manzarek's Fender Rhodes electric piano playing, which emulates the sound of rain.[4]

The song was recorded at the Doors Workshop in December 1970 with the assistance of Bruce Botnick, their longtime engineer, who was co-producing the recording sessions. Jim Morrison recorded his main vocals and then whispered the lyrics over them to create the echo effect. This was the last song recorded by the members of The Doors, according to Manzarek, as well as Morrison's last recorded song to be released. The single was released in 1971, shortly before Morrison's death, entering the Hot 100 on 3 July 1971, the day that Morrison died.

It is often incorrectly believed that this is the song longtime Doors producer Paul A. Rothchild disparaged as "cocktail music", precipitating his departure from the project. Rothchild actually applied this moniker to "Love Her Madly". Engineer Bruce Botnick was selected to produce the album instead.

The band's drummer John Densmore wrote a 1990 book called Riders on the Storm,[5] detailing the story of his life and his time with the group.

Ray Manzarek and guitarist Roy Rogers covered this song as an instrumental duet on their 2008 album "Ballads Before the Rain".

In November 2009, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame under the category Rock (track).

The song was among the first songs released for Rock Band 3 as downloadable content.[6][7]

The song, according to an interview with Ray Manzerek, was only performed live twice: on The L.A. Woman tour at The Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 12, 1970 and in Dallas the night before that. Ray said playing those songs were "magic". This was The Doors' last public performance with Jim Morrison. It was only the second date of the tour, but was also the last, as the tour was cancelled after this concert.

Chart positions[edit][]

Chart (1971) Peak


Netherlands (Single Top 100)[3] 7
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[8] 7
Germany (Media Control Charts)[9] 28
UK Singles Chart[2] 22
US Billboard Hot 100[1] 14

Cover versions[edit][]

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  • Annabel Lamb covered the song in 1983. It peaked at 27 in the UK Singles Chart of 27 August.[10]
  • Cameo covered the song in 1990 as an homage to Jim Morrison's influence on the band.
  • The Jacka sampled most of the song in 2008 for the single "Storm" featuring Cormega for his album "Tear Gas".
  • Creed also covered this song in 2000 for the album Stoned Immaculate, they also performed this song live at Woodstock 1999 alongside Robby Krieger.
  • Infected Mushroom remixed the song, and it appears on the 2009 album, Legend of the Black Shawarma.
  • Escape with Romeo covered the song on their 2001 album Come Here White Light.
  • Nightmares on Wax remixed the song for the limited edition of The Best of The Doors, which appeared in 2000. Three other remixes are on the bonus cd by Baez & Cornell, Ibizarre and SpaceBats.
  • Señor Coconut plays a merengue remix of this song on the 2003 album Fiesta Songs.
  • Snoop Dogg covered the song for the 2004 game, Need for Speed: Underground 2, in a remixed version produced by Fredwreck. The cover was dubbed over the original track.
  • New age/electronica music group Dancing Fantasy released a cover off their 1991 album California Grooves.[11]
  • Rapture Riders, a 2005 officially-released mashup version of the song produced by Go Home Productions, featured Jim Morrison's vocal combined with music and vocals from Blondie's 1981 single "Rapture".
  • Ray Manzarek & Bal collaborated on an electronic jazz version for their Atonal Head CD, 2006.
  • Dezperadoz covered the song in 2008 for the album An Eye for an Eye.
  • Wolfmother covered the song live from 2010 to 2011, blending it with their own "White Unicorn."[12]
  • Carlos Santana covered the song on his 2010 album Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time. This version features Chester Bennington (of Linkin Park) on lead vocals and Ray Manzarek (of The Doors) on keyboards, as he did on the original.
  • Incubus is known to medley into the song while playing "Are You In?" during their live shows.
  • Wednesday 13 covered the song with altered lyrics and an original chorus, retitling it "Welcome to the Strange", on the 2000 Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13 album Songs from the Recently Deceased.
  • Bob Sinclar used a small but highly-recognizable portion of 'Riders on the Storm' for his song 'For You' on his Western Dream album.
  • Megan Washington's cover of the song was featured in a trailer for season six of the Lifetime series Army Wives.