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AALIYAH | Lucille Ball | Milton Berle | Les Brown | Karen Carpenter | Charles Chaplin's Son (Little Mouse) and Buckwheat | James Dean | The Del Rubio Triplets Minus Two | Morton Downey Jr | Roy Rogers and Dale Evans | Richard Farnsworth | John Gotti | Vince Guaraldi | Harry Houdini | Meyer Lansky | Liberace | Julie London | Raymond Massey | Marilyn Monroe | Jim Morrison | Carroll O'Connor and his son Hugh | Papa John Phillips | Elvis Presley | Mario Puzo | Claude Rains | Joey Ramone | The Rat Pack: Frank, Dean, Peter, and Sammy | STUDIO 54 owner Steve Rubell: Pasha of Disco | Gene Siskel | Ann Sothern | Andy Warhol
December 8, 1943 - July 3, 1971
"Let's just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That's all it was: just curiosity." -- Jim Morrison, Los Angeles, 1969
Eleven months after the marriage of Steve and Clara Morrison, Jim was born. His father was a conservative no nonsense Naval officer, while his mother was more of a free spirit, the daughter of a maverick lawyer from Wisconsin.
Jim like most from that era, was the product of a wartime baby boom that occurred in the late forties.
After World War II, the family moved to Melbourne, Florida where Steve was stationed. Unfortunately for Jim and his mother, his father was forced to leave, in order to go back to the Pacific to fly Hellcats from an aircraft carrier. For the next three years Jim and his mother would have to live with her husband's family in Clearwater, Florida.
Like his father, Jim had a very strict upbringing governed by Victorian cliches. In Jim's grandparents house, he was seen but rarely heard. Being older people they were very impatient with the boy.
Things were not great for Clara either. Steve's parents were very religious people who did not drink, smoke nor tolerated any outlandish behavior. She was a young woman who longed for the independance that a home of her own could provide.
Having little freedom in their house she longed for her husband's return. But for the sake of her marriage and her son Jim, she maintained the impeccible and sometimes stuffy household that her in-laws provided.
In 1946, she was relieved to see the war's end and to be rejoined with her husband once more.
Despite the end of the war, military obligations would continue to keep Steve away from his family for long periods of time.
Eventually the family left Florida and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where Steve became an instructor in one of the military's atomic weapons programs.
Once while the seven year old Jim was traveling with his parents on a highway just outside of Albuguerque, they came upon a flipped truck that had been carrying Pueblo Indians. They had been ejected from the vehicle and were laying all over the road injured and dying. This incident affected Jim severly and remained in his memory for many years. Frequently he would refer to the incident, claiming that one of the Indian's souls had entered his body at the time of their death.
When Jim became a teenager his family moved again, this time to Alameda, California. Alameda is located near San Francisco and noted for it's naval air station. The lifestyle was alot different than the one he was used to in New Mexico. Jim had to make the transition from the rural ways of Albuguerque to the new social nuances of Northern California. It was no longer cool to ride a bike to school, so Jim hoofed it a mile and a half each day. Clean Levis were out, so Jim had to inform his mother not to wash his jeans every week.
To gain attention from fellow classmates he would do anything stupid just to be noticed. On one occasion, he tied a string around his ear and put the other end in his mouth. When asked what was he doing, his reply was that there was a tiny bucket in his throat and he was collecting saliva for medical tests.
One of Jim's favorite pastimes was reading. He loved MAD magazine, but fell in love with Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." There he learned of a new term that would accompany a new lifestyle: Beatnik. Fortunately for Jim, the headquarters for all beakniks was just a mere forty minutes away in North Beach.
Jim and his friends would frequently visit North Beach, checking out all the shops and odd bookstores. He especially loved the bookstores that carried censored books. There he once met a local "famous" poet at one of these bookstores. The poet said hi and Jim ran.
Although Jim was slowly becoming a rebel and perhaps a "beatnik" he always achieved excellent grades. Without much effort he was able to maintain a 88.32 average and twice made the honor roll. His IQ was 149 and scored well on the SAT with a 528 in math and 630 in the verbal.
His first real introduction to music was when as a teenager he would visit the sleazy bars on Route 1, near Fort Belvoir, to listen to the black blues singers. His second was during college when he met his future keyboardist, Ray Manzarek. Jim was attracted to Ray's music and had frequently heard his band play. Rick and the Ravens, Ray's band, sometimes played the Turkey Joint West in Santa Monica a bar located in the nearby beach community.
During his college years, Jim also pursued another art form: he made little strange sketches of macabre figures that dealt with violence, pedophilia, sexually, etc. All this led up to an even stranger film career. Soon he would put all that behind him to start a band with some college friends.
A very "revealing" look at Jim Morrison
The music business began innocently when while at Florida State University along with his friend, Sam Kilman, Jim suggested they start a band. Sam was a drummer but didn't feel that his skills were good enough to become part of a band. Sam wasn't even that sure of Jim's singing abilities, but Morrison was determined to get this venture off the ground. It was also Jim that without a whole lot of thought came up with the band's name: "THE DOORS." He said that there are two entities, the known and the unknown. Both are separated by a door and that's what he wanted to be, The Door.
When Jim informed his parents that he was going to throw away his college degree to pursue his dreams as a singer in a rock band, his father flipped! He quickly reminded Jim about the abandoned piano lessons and the time he refused to sing Christmas carols with the family. Jim's father was angry because he had paid all that money for a college education and now Jim was prepared to throw it all away on a whim. After all that, Jim never wrote his parents again.
Soon after graduation from UCLA in 1965, Jim joined the hippie scene in Venice Beach. It was at the time, a small artistic area that attracted hippies, runaways and artists. Young people spent their time on the beach smoking pot or dropping acid. During that era, LSD was still legal and could be purchased at the local "head shop."
Venice was to Los Angeles what Haight-Ashbury was to San Francisco
Jim took up residence under a boardwalk where he spent his time taking drugs and writing poems, until he ran into friend Ray Manzarek, a former fellow classmate. Ray was a keyboardist in a small local rock band that was struggling against all the other bands in the area. In order to make it big, he needed something or someone special to make his band so special that it would stand out from the rest. Little did he know that that special "thing" was his friend Jim.
One of the "poems" that had it's beginning on the beach was
"Hello, I Love You," (1965) which was inspired by a young, long thin black girl who was walking towards him as he sat on a Venice beach.
"Sidewalk crouches at her feet
Like a dog that begs for something sweet
Do you hope to meke her see, you fool?
Do you hope to pluck this dusky jewel?
Ray was extremely impressed after reading some of Jim's poem and suggested that they put together a band. He convinced Jim that they could put music to his poetry and that he could "sing" his poems on stage. Jim had already had a desire to put a band together but didn't have the vision or the members to get it together. They recruited two new members, Robbie Krieger, guitarist and John Densmore,
drummer and began playing the clubs on the Sunset Strip.
Soon they were getting the recognition they deserved and moved on to the "better" clubs. By early 1966, the band had about twenty-five original songs in their repertoire. One of which was "The End," a song not about death as most believe but about faded love.
Reluctantly Elektra Records president, Jac Holzman signed the group to a recording contract. They cut their first album in 1967, "The Doors" which was released and quickly received universal acclaim. "Light My Fire" became the group's first really big hit single and then projected them to number one on the music charts. Along with their hit, Jim quickly developed a reputation for erratic public behavior on stage.
December 9, 1967 marked the first of many incidents while in concert. During a show in New Haven, Connecticut he was arrested for attempting to incite a riot by telling the crowd that the police had sprayed him and journalist Patricia Keneally with mace backstage just before the concert.
Then in March 1, 1969, Jim was at it again. During another concert, this time in conservative Miami, Florida, Morrison was arrested for exposing himself on stage and using profanity. The legal troubles caused the group to loose their bookings for the next several months. Thankfully they still had their hit records that continued toclimb the charts to keep them in drugs, drink and women.
Donated by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. This is the actual arrest record of Jim Morrison in Miami, Florida.
Morrison was brought to trial and aquitted of the charges of lewd and lascivious behavior. He was however, guilty of indecent exposure and profanity and was sentenced to eight months in prison. The verdict was appealed and Jim remained free on bail. Tired of the whole scene and the prospects of going to jail, Jim and girlfriend, Pamela moved to Paris, France.
The whole time that Morrison was in Paris, he drank heavily. He loved the wine bistros and cafes. By now he had gained excessive weight and was going through his "Elvis" period. On one occasion, Jim was sitting in a cafe drinking when he noticed some kids toting guitar cases. After a while he walked over to their table and asked them if they were Americans. They said that they were and then asked Morrison where he was from, not recognizing the BIG rock star. As it turned out they all attended UCLA. After twenty questions, the kids finally put together who Morrison was. After apologizing profusely, Jim treated them to drinks of whiskey with beer chasers. A few drinks led to an impromptu jam session with Jim, an experience I'm sure they never forgot.
Around July 1, 1971, for whatever reason Morrison had slipped into a period of despondency. He was drinking far worse than ever, but was trying to quit. In the middle of all this chaos he was trying to write. Unfortunately he was blocked, the words would not flow. Pamela was worried for him and his mental state. She tried to distract him and make him happy to no avail.
He was even invited by friends to join them for dinner the next day, but refused to go because he didn't want to saddle them with his depressed state. Finally they persuaded him and he remained quiet for the entire meal. After dinner he took Pamela home and alledgedly went to a movie, "Pursued" starring Robert Mitchum. There are alot of contradictions concerning his whereabouts that evening. Some say he went to the
Rock 'n' Roll Circus, so depressed that he bought some heroin and O.D'd in the club lavatory. Supposedly he was then carried out the back door and dumped at his flat, in the bathtub.
Another rumor is that he left Pamela and headed for the airport. Witnesses have claimed to have seen him boarding a plane.
The most famous of rumors were that after walking around all night he returned home complained that he wasn't feeling well and took a bath.
During his bath, he regurgitated a small quantity of blood. This was common for him and Pam didn't think anything was wrong. Soon she went to bed and left him in the bath. Later she awoke because he had not joined her, that's when she found him. His arms were draped over the sides of the tub and his head was leaning back, his long hair matted and wet. He had a grin on his clean shaven face. At first Pam thought he was playing another one of his sick jokes, but then noticed he wasn't breathing and called the fire department's resuscitation unit. After them a doctor and the police arrived on the scene. It was too late, it was "The End" for Jim.
Whatever happened on that fateful Friday night, we know that on July 5th, rumors circulated that he was dead. English newspapers were calling Elektra Records to verify whether or not he was dead. No one knew anything. The only thing that could prove he was dead was a sealed coffin, a signed death certificate and Pamela's word. Funeral arrangements were quickly made and secretly confirmed. Pamela filed the death certificate with the American Embassy, identifying him as James Douglas Morrison. Also she said there were no other living relatives. The official cause of death was listed as a heart attack.
On July 7th, his coffin was lowered into a grave a Pere' La Chaise. This was the cemetery that gravehunter, Jim Morrison would spend hours looking for the graves of the famous: Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Balzac, Bizet and Chopin.
Morrison's coffin was to be opened on July 6th, of 2001 and he was going to be relocated to California when his "lease" expired. Both events have yet to occur.
This photo was given to me by some very nice people whom I met at the Miami Book Fest International. I lost the paper that they gave me with their name, address etc. So if someone wants to claim the photo by identifying themselves, email me and I'll give you credit for the photo and send it back to you.
Three years later, girlfriend Pamela Courson died of a herion overdose in Paris. She too was twenty-seven at the time of her death.
L.A. Woman written in Jim Morrison's hand.
Recently I saw a special on television about these two guys, perhaps brothers who were really huge Jim Morrison fans. I believe they lived in Detroit somewhere, I can't remember and it doesn't matter. Anyway, they decided to make a bust of Jim and lug it to Paris to erect it on his grave. Actually the bust really looked good and would have been an awesome addition to his grave. I don't know why they didn't contact the family and ask permission. I'm sure the family would have given the okay for this endeavor.
So these guys put the life size bust of Jim in their suitcase (or giant hatbox, how does one carry a bust on a plane?) and off they go to France. This must have been pre- 911 because they didn't encounter any problems transporting the bust. Could you imagine, a bomb molded in the shape of Jim Morrison's head?
Finally they get to the cemetery equpped with power tools and wait until the cemetery is either closed or closing and there were very little if no people around. As soon as they think the coast is clear, they commence to drill and hammer at Morrison's grave to install the bust. Of course the local cemetery cops are summoned and soon they appear. Instead of really being mad at these two guys they were taken with the beauty of the statue. It's very French to appreciate art even if there is a crime in progress. Although they thought the whole thing was cool, they still had a job to do and arrested the two. The three of them, the two guys and the bust, were brought to the local French jail, questioned and then deported back to the U.S. That more or less was the end of their mission. Tell me, what were they thinking?