How homemade phyllo slowed down “Roadhouse Blues”

The Los Angeles Times has a way of treating the most absurd story with a straight face. Take the article in today’s Food section about Nina Lamb:

As the wife, and then ex-wife, of the legendary Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records, Lamb served as the label’s de facto chef, preparing food not only for industry parties for artists as diverse as Jim Morrison and Judy Collins, but also sending over snacks when her favorite acts felt the urge.

The “artist” spotlighted in this article by David Budin was The Doors, Elektra’s second-signed (behind Love) rock band, and by far the label’s biggest money-makers.

Ray Manzarek, who co-founded the Doors with [Jim] Morrison and played keyboards in the band, has fond memories of Lamb’s food. “We’d call her,” he says, “and we’d say, ‘Help. We’re starving here. We need food. We’re in the studio working late tonight. Can you bring us a tray of that marvelous phyllo?’ Saved our lives.”

Forget that it was midnight, and there were restaurants within a few miles who were open 24 hours. Canter’s deli even delivered. The Doors, Budin reports without displaying any sense of outrage or even irony, needed their home-made phyllo.

“I remember her bringing it to the recording session for ‘Road House Blues,’ of which we had multiple takes,” Manzarek says. “We were rockin’ out and playing it too fast and needing to get into the later part of the night so that the tempo would be right. And Nina brought in the phyllo and we had a little wine and, man, it was good food; and long about 1 or 2 o’clock we got it. So, Nina’s phyllo had a lot to do with getting the master take of ‘Road House Blues.’ “

People! this wasn’t Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, or even something as relatively intricate (at least by Doors standards) as “The Unknown Soldier.” It was, as the Doors spelled it, “Roadhouse Blues”!*


Lamb says that she began to freeze her phyllo dough, so she wouldn’t have to make it fresh when her husband’s self-indulgent cash cow got a late-night craving. It doesn’t say whether she hired a messenger service and charged it back to the band’s royalties. But I certainly hope so.

*two days to record — a shuffle. I shudder to think how long it took them to figure out “Back Door Man.”

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