Councilman had 15 minutes of fame performing with The Doors
July 17, 2013
By Dan Aznoff
Every kid who has ever played in a garage band dreams of the opportunity to be pulled from the audience and perform live and in concert with their favorite rock legend.
That dream came true for North Bend City Councilman Dee Williamson in 1967, when a man in a dark suit came up to him during a concert of The Doors and asked the 17-year-old to sit in with the band for its last set of songs, including the group’s signature tune, “Light My Fire.”
Williamson and his band—Dee and the New Variety—had won third-row seats to see Jim Morrison and The Doors perform live as reward for winning the local Battle of the Bands during high school in his hometown of Las Vegas. The contest, he remembered, was sponsored by KENO Radio. Williams said The Doors had just released their first album and were booked to play at the 4,000 seat auditorium in the old convention center.
“This guy in a suit came down the aisle and asked which one of us was the keyboard player,” he remembered. “That was me. The guy was pretty sure we knew the music because we had won the Battle of the Bands by performing music by The Doors.”
Some local teenager
The future city councilman jumped at the opportunity to share the spotlight with Morrison and other members of the original band, including drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger. He sat down at the keyboard normally occupied by Ray Manzarek for the finale.
Thinking back after the concert, Williamson remembered that the keyboard player had looked ill, but did not know until later that he had suffered through the concert with food poisoning.
When the concert ended, Williamson remained seated behind the keyboard while the rest of the band made its way off stage. But he does remember the iconic Morrison turning around to give him an intentional wink before he walked over to sign autographs for some adoring fans.
“The girls were not interested in some local teenager,” he remembered. “After all, I was not Jim.”
Dee and the New Variety played together for two years before the members each went their separate ways. Williamson said his music helped him pay for the first two years of college, but he was never tempted to make music his lifetime career.
“It’s not all the wine and roses that people see in the magazines or on TV,” he explained. “The travel and the lifestyle were never something I wanted to do long term. But it sure was fun.”
‘My personal hero’
Williamson became involved with local politics soon after he moved his family to North Bend in 2000. He was elected to the North Bend City Council in 2008 and re-elected to his second term on the council last year. He said he is most proud of his work with the King County sheriff to reduce crime within the city limits.
City Administrator Londi Lindell said the councilman’s admission about his roots in rock ‘n roll took her completely by surprise. Her impression of Williamson had always been as a serious elected official with an expertise on public safety.
“I was always a huge fan of Jim Morrison and The Doors,” Lindell said. “So, when I heard the councilman tell his story about being called up on stage to play with the band, Dee became my personal hero.”
His experience as a rock and roll star is now nothing more than an interesting topic of conversation for Williamson. Fellow council members only became aware of his brief moment in the spotlight when each member was asked to write down something about themselves that nobody else knew as part of an ice-breaker activity for the council.
“Everybody guessed it was me right away,” he admitted. “Nobody else is old enough.”