At first blush there isn’t any connection between The Doors and Michael Jackson (or the Lizard King and the King of Pop). While the groups were contemporaneous of each other they never played on the same bill together. But The Doors and Michael Jackson have one thing in common, the Hard Rock Café.
Doors fans are familiar with how the Hard Rock Café, a bar in the skid row section of Los Angeles (300 E 5th St), became part of rock and roll lore. After shooting what would become the cover photo for the Morrison Hotel album in early January of 1970 (see “The Doors Release Morrison Hotel February 9, 1970“), Henry Diltz and The Doors wanted to have a beer after taking the Morrison Hotel photographs and they discovered the bar. Or perhaps Diltz had already known about the bar. The band stopped in for a few beers with the bar’s regulars. They shared stories while Diltz continued to shoot pictures that would later be incorporated as the back cover of the album.
Thirteen years later MTV was the new thing in rock and roll and bands were producing videos for the TV station (The Doors also released videos for MTV by going through footage shot their documentary “Feast of Friends” and matched it the best they could to Doors songs). Michael Jackson wasn’t just producing videos of his songs he was producing mini-movies for his songs. The video for “Beat It” shows Jackson step between rival gangs and through dance and music reconcile their differences.
Around March 9, 1983 Jackson and his company were filming on east 5th street and the barroom scenes from “Beat It” were filmed in the still extant Hard Rock Café. As you can see in the video (above) by the time of Jackson’s filming the bar still retained its skid row ambiance. It isn’t known whether Jackson knew of the bar’s previous part in rock and roll history. “Beat It” premiered on MTV March 31, 1983. The building still exists and now houses the Green Apple Market.
Sources: The Examiner | All Things Michael
Read more about the MJ/Doors Connection here