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Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones is found dead of an apparent accidental drowning on July 3, 1969. Two years later to the day, in 1971, Jim Morrison dies of heart failure in a Paris bathtub.
For all the highly publicized brushes with the law that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would have in the late 1960s, it was the original leader of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones, who was the group’s original bad boy—who lived, in the words of Pete Townshend, “on a higher planet of decadence than anyone I would ever meet.” A gifted musician, Jones helped create the sound of countless classic Stones tracks with his work on guitar, sitar, marimba and other instruments that were then considered exotic for rock and roll. But he also helped create the stereotype of the wasted rock star with his prodigious drug habit and his declining ability to contribute to the Stones’ recordings. “At first Brian was the most interesting Stone,” John Lennon recalled in a 1970 interview, “[but] he was one of them guys that disintegrated in front of you.”
Unable to show up for recording sessions due to his drug habit, and unable to play properly on the occasions that he did, Brian Jones was also refused an entry visa to the United States in the spring of 1969 due to his recent drug conviction, upsetting plans for a fall tour of the States. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards fired him on June 8, and a little more than three weeks later, the 27-year-old Jones was found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at his home in Sussex. Rumors of foul play would persist for years among fans and conspiracy buffs, but the coroner’s official ruling was “Death by misadventure,” on July 3, 1969.
Two years later to the day, another 27-year-old rock star would die under uncertain circumstances: Jim Morrison. As the charismatic frontman of the iconic 1960s group The Doors, Jim Morrison created a template that charismatic frontmen are still emulating nearly half a century later. Young, good-looking and clad in skintight black leather pants, the Lizard King mesmerized a generation with his stage presence and his lyrics about funeral pyres and mystic heated wine. But the trippy mix of Nietzsche, Blake and Huxley that the young Dionysius peddled was usually filtered through heavy doses of bourbon and mescaline, or some other combination of alcohol and drugs.
While the precise circumstances of Morrison’s death on July 3, 1971, are fuzzy enough to have fueled persistent rumors that he is still alive, what is known for certain is that he was found dead in the bathtub of the Paris apartment he was sharing with longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson. Because no evidence of foul play was found at the scene, and because Courson told French authorities that Morrison had not been using drugs, no autopsy was conducted, and “heart failure” was cited as the cause of death. In the years since his untimely death, Morrison’s most prominent biographers, Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, have asserted that Morrison suffered an accidental heroin overdose that night, basing their claim on Courson’s allegation that he was in fact using drugs sometime before her own death by overdose in 1974 .
Read more: Music Legends Who Lived Fast and Died at 27
The 27 Club is a list consisting mostly of popular musicians, artists, or actors who died at age 27. Although the claim of a "statistical spike" for the death of musicians at that age has been repeatedly disproven by research, it remains a cultural phenomenon, documenting the deaths of celebrities, some noted for their high-risk lifestyles. Names are often put forward for inclusion, but because the club is entirely notional, there is no official membership.
The Curse of J’s (Or, Why Do So Many Great Deceased Rock Musicos Have a “J” in Their Name?)
By now everyone who knows anything of any real importance about rock music knows more or less two essential facts: 1) A lot of the most gifted rockers checked out early for that great Hall of Fame in the sky 2) Many of these had a “J” in their first or last name (Jimi, Janis, Jim, John, Jerry, etc.) Until now, however, no one has come forward with a coherent, unified theory that could single-handedly tie together all the loose threads of dates and names and niggling little details, and present them to you, the reader, in an easy-to-peruse manner that would satisfactorily and definitively explain the “Curse of Js” once and for all time. Well, there still isn’t, but here’s a stab…
First off, let’s get some things straight here. We’re talking about rock music, not about any other musical genre like folk or rap or country, or any other category like rock movie stars. So if your man died young, had a J in his or her name, and happened to be a famous musician but not a rocker, fuggetaboutit. Django? Nice try, but doesn’t count. James Dean? One of the first celluloid rock stars (or “celluloid heroes” as Ray Davies called them – note, not dead, for obvious reasons) and actually an interesting case, but, well…let’s think about JD some more. There are some other notable in-between cases, as well. Like that other JD — John Denver – was he a rock star? Some would claim he was, and he was famous and died young (in a plane – pretty typical rock star fashion) and yeah, he clearly had the “J” happening in his name. Jim Croce? Well, despite the fact that songs like “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” do have some attitude, and the chord changes to “I Have to Say I Love You” were recently lifted for a Tenacious D song, similar problem — not clear whether he was rockin’ enough. You get the idea.
Next, this seems to have been primarily a Sixties phenom. Which means you didn’t have to pass in the decade, but you or your group started in those heady days. Which is why Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and all the other Fifties rockers who sang “this’ll be the day that I die” don’t have “J”s in their names. Elvis is another story. No, he doesn’t have the special letter in his name, but his twin brother, Jesse Garon, obviously did, and since they were twins and Elvis felt especially connected to him throughout his life, and because Elvis did live through the decade in question (even made his big comeback in it), I maintain that he should be considered a “J.”
Or take Lynyrd Skynyrd, a band who were and still are one of the most kick-ass Southern Rock outfits to date. In 1977, lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and his sister, Cassie, one of Skynyrd’s back-up singers, were taken in a plane crash. Not to seem callous, but you will note that none of their names has a “J” in it. It’s not that they were not great rock musicians, it’s just that Skynyrd was a Seventies band, so they don’t count. For the same reason that Stevie Ray Vaughan doesn’t have a “J” and so also doesn’t count. Wait a minute, you say, what about the Allman Brothers? They started in the Sixties (and inspired Skynyrd – “Free Bird” was written for Duane). So what about Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, who both did “eat a peach” in motorcycle accidents in Macon, Georgia, only three blocks and one year apart? Good question, hard to answer. Same problem with Keith Moon. Clearly they don’t have the juice letter in their names, but just as clear is that they were indeed rock royalty in the most righteous sense. So what gives? Perhaps time and further research will uncover something, such as a middle name with a “J” in it? If not, maybe we will have to concede that Duane and Keith were not the top of the pops, so to speak.
You see why, don’t you? Almost every single top ten “classic” rock group from the Sixties had a member who left us prematurely. Check it out: From the Rolling Stones – Brian Jones. The Beatles – John Lennon. Led Zep – John Bonham. The Doors – Jim Morrison. The Experience – Jimi. Janis Joplin – Janis Joplin (she outshone her bands). The Grateful Dead – Jerry Garcia (sure he passed in ’96, but could say he was already “dead” long before). The Who…Again, Keith Moon – oh, wait… just one bloody minute…Keith Moon’s full name is “Keith John Moon” (just looked it up on Google), so he is a “J”! Now let’s try Duane (back in a sec)…
Well, so far haven’t found any middle name for Duane, but I did discover these two all-important facts: “Duane Allman named his daughter Galadrielle [sic – it’s Galadriel], after a character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings”(!) And the Allmans helped fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter get elected in ’76 by playing at some of his gigs, much like Jon Bon Jovi is doing it these days for Big John and Little John (wait, tell me that wasn’t five “J”s in one sentence!)
But anyway, I think we’ve established that you had to really jam to make the cut. Either that or you changed your name, effectively eluding the angel of death. Because here’s another thing about the J phenomenon: Certain J’s that could have been cut off in their prime weren’t. Take the as of late still great Stevie Wonder. Had he retained his birth name, Steveland Hardaway Judkins (which later changed to Steveland Morris), and clearly it’s wise he didn’t just on the level of it not exactly flowing off the tip of the tongue, the Grim Reaper might have come looking for him because of that little J in Judkins. Maybe there’s something to be said for the saying, “Change your name, change your fate” (but then again, I’m not very superstitious). On the other hand, let’s consider for a moment Reginald Kenneth Dwight, otherwise known these days as Sir Elton. In other words, here is one of the greats who changed his name to a J, but he’s still around. So what gives? Maybe it’s because even though Elton John and Bernie Taupin were collaborating as early as 1968, Elton’s career never really took off until the 70s. Or maybe he’s still alive and kicking for the same reason Mick Jagger is – they both weren’t good enough to make the final cut, they needed more time to hone their craft. It’s possible, right?
But here’s one thing we can somewhat safely speculate about: Who’s next. Just like John Entwistle went after Keith, Mick’s the next J in line in the Stones. And it’s either John Paul Jones or Jimmy Page in Zep, but probably the former as he has double trouble. In the Doors, Densmore, not sure about the Dead (no more J’s). As for the Beatles, it’s now between Ringo and Paul (neither a J) and it’s only poetic and fitting that Paul be the last to survive after being dead for all those years. This is all just speculation, you understand.
Now what about drugs? All the J deaths, with the exception of Lennon, apparently were either caused by drug use or were at least associated with it. Why is this not surprising? After all, we are talking about rock music in the Sixties. And “J” is after all code blue for “joint.” Well, that might be a bit of a stretch, but this is a point to consider, and it could help to explain Duane’s case. Whether a pact with the devil was also involved in all or any of these deaths is a subject about which we can only speculate.
But here’s what we have established so far: The curse applies to the cream of the classic rock acts from the Sixties, from whom one key member with a “J” in their name was taken prematurely. So if you had a “J” in your name and the gods didn’t off you in your prime (Mick Jagger? James Brown? Michael Jackson?), it’s possible you weren’t considered a rock god if you were dead before your time (Gram Parsons? Pig Pen?), maybe you just got lucky. Drugs were almost always involved, and there were no suicides (another reason why even if there was a “J” in Kurt Cobain’s name, his would still be a pseudo case). The curse could apply to other J artists as well, like Croce, Denver, and even Jam Master Jay (one of the first rap rock stars), but probably not.
Finally, let’s tie up a few loose threads. First, why the letter “J”? Well, J is the tenth letter of the alphabet, perhaps that is significant. Or maybe “J” is short for something. Jam? James (as in James Dean – “Too fast to live, to young to die” as the Eagles sang)? Jehovah? How about juxtaposition? Because here’s another thing: At least some of these deaths seem to have been connected. How do we explain the fact that after Brian Jones death, Jim Morrison was so moved that he penned a special 73-line poem for him entitled, “Ode to L.A. while Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased,” and then Morrison himself is gone exactly two years later to the day? Or that Jimi, Janis, and Jim died in the same nine-month period? I’m sure there are other such “coincidences,” as well, but those are the only ones that have been brought to my attention.
[Here’s an update: Why the J? J. Edgar Hoover. He was the corrupt head of the FBI for 48 years and kept long files on prominent rock musicians. He died in 1972, which is basically the termination point for many of the above-named musicians. Hate to go government conspiracy, but it’s a possibility, and the “J” is perhaps
an amazing divine coincidence/synchronicity.]
July 3rd is a somber and mysterious day in rock n' roll history. Two talented rock musicians, Brian Jones and Jim Morrison, died on this day two years apart. Both were 27. Both died in water. Both deaths were surrounded by suspicious circumstances. Brian Jones was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool in 1969 in Sussex. Jim Morrison was found dead in a bathtub in 1971 in Paris.
The Rolling Stone, Brian Jones
There were many conflicted and evasive accounts of what really happened that warm summer night of July 3, 1969. Jones was discovered faced down at the bottom of the swimming pool in his home. Jones' then girlfriend, Anna Wohlin, along with a house guest pulled him out of the pool and administered CPR on him. She claimed that he briefly grabbed her hand and still showed signs of life. However, the medics found him dead by the time they arrived. Brian Jones' death was later reported by the coroner as "death by misadventure". Though alcohol and drugs were never directly contributed to the causes of his death, it's been speculated that he had a few drinks on that unfortunate evening.
In 2009, forty years after Jone's death, Sussex police decided to review the case following new information that the death could be more than accidental.  The move came after journalist Scott Jones' (not related) investigation claiming that builder Frank Thorogood who worked on Jones' house was responsible for the death. Wohlin said Jones had a huge argument with Thorogood over the poor construction works done in his home that night and implicated Thorogood in the murder of Jones out of a rage. The rumor has it that Thorogood allegedly confessed to killing Jones on his deathbed in 1994.
There are countless books being written and documentaries and television shows being made about Brian Jones. The recent notable one is 2005 film, Stoned, which details Brian Jones' sordid life story. Here is a video of The Rolling Stones performing Little Red Rooster in 1964. This clip showed Jones' influence during early Stones days.
Mr. Mojo Risin'
After being hit with the indecent exposure charge from the notorious 1969 Miami concert, Jim Morrison was frustrated and left emotionally drained. He wanted to get away from all the oppressing hostility around him. He flew to Paris in March 1971 to write poetry and reclaim a breeze of tranquility. He seemed to enjoy his new found sanctuary and became artistically productive shortly after his arrival. He wrote a few poems, shaved off his beard, and lost some weights. Who would have though that the trip would soon turned out to be a tragic end to his life.
On July 3, 1971, Morrison's long time girlfriend, Pamela Courson, discovered Morrison's body in their apartment bathtub. The official coroner's report listed Morrison's cause of death as heart failure. An autopsy was never performed by French authority, which further fueled the conspiracy theories. In a 2010 CNN interview, Ray Manzarek said The Doors manager flew to Paris but never saw Jim Morrison's body instead a sealed coffin. Some reports claimed Morrison and Courson had been doing heroin and Morrison like Brian Jones who long suffered asthma coughed up blood early that tragic day.
Some conspiracy theorists suggested that Morrison was actually died of heroin overdose in famous Rock 'n' Roll Circus night club and later his body was moved to his apartment. Some speculated that Morrison faked his own death. Some suggested that Cousron murdered Morrison. She encouraged Morrison to pursue writing poetry in Paris. A month before their departure, Morrison signed a bequest granting all his estate to her. Unfortunately the few people with Jim Morrison during his final hours were reluctant to speak out on what really happened that night. Courson died of heroin overdose three years later.
Jim Morrison's Ode to Brian Jones
In a series of twisted and ironic life events, Brian Jones and Jim Morrison shared more than just the glamorous rock star status adored by millions. They were both incredibly talented musicians who lived different lives across the Atlantic Ocean but traveled in an eerily similar path. They died on the same day July 3rd at the age of 27. Supposedly both died of drug related causes. Both were living in exile at the time of their deaths. Jones was expelled from The Rolling Stones, the band he founded. Morrison was persecuted by the authority. Jim Morrison even wrote a tribute poem, Ode to LA While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased, after Jones' death. While composing that heart-wrenching poem, did Morrison apprehend his own road parallel to that of Jones'? Could he foresee his future demise?
This Is The End, Beautiful Friends
Brian Jones was a complex being with vibrant charisma that could even eclipse that of Mick Jagger and musical talents that amazed millions of fans and peers like John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. He lived a life without inhibitions. However, expulsion by his fellow band mates and his girlfriend and pride being stolen from him drove him into a recluse and propelled him further and deeper towards drugs that eventually led to his tragic downfall.
The Rolling Stones' managers commented in a documentary that Brian Jones did not have the recklessness to stay in the game. That statement revealed that Brian Jones was not a bludgeoning spoiled rock star he was human after all. A sane human with charms and flaws like everyone else. He was simply a young lost kid who sought attentions that he never got and was used up in a cruel and brash show business world.
Jim Morrison shared a similar charismatic charm like Brian Jones' but with a poet's sensibility. He unknowingly became rock n' roll poster child - full of idealism, anti-authority, excess, and more excess. Underneath those tight leather pants and provocative stage performances, Morrison was a passionate troubadour with an enormous appetite for life, the good and the bad of it. Rock n' roll eagerly helped him to feed that propensity with plenty of alcohol, drugs and sex that one delicate soul could hardly handle.
The legal woes hit Morrison like an apathetic hurricane. The rock icon realized that idealism stood small next to the ugly reality of the system. The frustration led him further down the dark path of substance abuse. Finally his young life came to an abrupt end when he sought complacency in Paris.
No one here gets out of alive. Jones and Morrison traded in their youths with a handful of dimes. They made it, they were drown in it. In their primes.
All those ghosts he never saw
Floating to doom
On an iron candle
Jim Morrison ode to Brian Jones
July 3 is probably most famously remembered in rock ‘n’ roll history as the day Jim Morrison died. But the date is also shared by The Rolling Stones Brian Jones who died two years prior on July 3, 1969 at age 27. Although Morrison and Jones probably never met, Morrison felt enough of an affinity with Jones that he wrote the poem “Ode to L.A. While Thinking about Brian Jones, Deceased”
Today not many people remember Brian Jones or if they do, they only remember he was fired from The Rolling Stones, but in the 60’s Brian Jones WAS The Rolling Stones. Jones started the group, brought the band members together, named the band, and in the early years he was known as the band’s leader, and maybe it’s for these reasons Morrison felt some sort of parallel between them, and there are a few similarities they share besides the date of their death.
A couple of characteristic’s the two shared was an above average IQ and a penchant to make their teachers and authority figures the main target of their jokes and pranks. As both entered their teen years they became fans of the blues, so much so, that Jones started The Stones as a blues cover group, and because he emulated blues guitarists as The Stones moved towards rock ‘n’ roll Jones played slide guitar on songs. Jones was known as a gifted musician who experimented and used very untraditional instruments in rock songs. Jones was one of the first musicians to use a sitar in rock music, a sound The Doors would use to great effect in “The End”. Because of the use of the sitar in “Paint It Black” the Stones song, has in recent years been frequently confused as a Doors song.
Jones may have also influenced Jim Morrison as he was becoming more and more attracted to rock ‘n’ roll. At least one biography of Morrison’s, Stephen Davis’ “Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend” suggests that Jim Morrison may have seen an interview with Jones in which he didn’t speak above a whisper, having the effect of drawing people in, Davis asserts that thereafter Jim Morrison didn’t speak above a whisper either.
Jones died in the early morning hours of July 3, 1969 under mysterious circumstances. The outward method was by drowning in a swimming pool but rumors of murder soon started to circulate and the coroner ruled it was a death by misadventure noting Jones enlarged liver and heart due to drug and alcohol abuse. Why exactly after Jones’ death Morrison felt enough of an affinity with Jones to write a poem with him in mind is probably only known to Morrison, but it may also be the hedonistic lifestyles the two shared. They may not have ever met each other but they would have known of the others reputation, and Jones who was one of rock’s first real causalities it just may have been a realization by Morrison of what they had in common. Jim Morrison died two years later to the day of Jones, Jones was found in a swimming pool and Morrison in a Paris bathtub. Both were 27.
So What Did Brian Do?
Everyone knows Keith Richards came up with the riffs for “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and most people assume he came up with all the band’s signature licks. But Brian plays the recognizable hooks of “The Last Time,” th Nervous Breakdown,” and “Mother’s Little Helper,” which he played on a 12-string with a slide, not on a sitar. He did play the sitar on “Paint It Black,” along with the droning tambura, and “Street Fighting Man.”
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Brian was a notorious blues purist who had nothing but disdain for pop music. Keith thought guitar leads reached their pinnacle when Chuck Berry duck-walked his Gibson across a stage. While Keith handled most leads, neither player was the official lead guitarist in the band because they developed a style based on the “guitar weaving” they learned from Jimmy Reed records. Jones played the lead on “Tell Me,” the main guitar lines on “Get Off My Cloud” and the backward guitar solo on Light Years From Home” off the 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request.
Jones was a master slide guitarist, who put the stinging slide lead on the Rolling Stones’ version of “I Wanna Be Your Man,” which John Lennon and Paul McCartney had written just for the band, as well as “I’m a King Bee,” and “I’m Movin’ On.” His slide playing may have reached its pinnacle on “No Expectations.”
Some of Brian’s most recognizable contributions to the Stones’ weren’t on guitar. He tapped the distinctive marimba line on “Under My Thumb,” and plays piano and the recorder on “Ruby Tuesday.” Brian put the sax leads on his own band’s “Child of the Moon,” and “Citadel,” and the oboe solo in “Dandelion.” While Mick is known as the Rolling Stones’ harmonica player, Jones wrapped his lips around the tiny reed instrument on songs like “Come On,” “Stoned,” “Not Fade Away,” “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “Now I’ve Got A Witness,” “Dear Doctor,” and “Prodigal Son.” By the time of the 1966 album Aftermath, Jones added played dulcimer, koto, mellotron, theremin and kazoo to his instrumental repertoire. He played the distinctive mellotron riff on “She’s a Rainbow,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Citadel,” and “We Love You,” which also featured his horn parts. It was the last single the band put out before Mick and Keith were jailed and featured Lennon and McCartney on backing vocals.
Most sources say Brian became self and over-indulgent, retreating from the other Stones in the studio, but he indulged in some prime time extracurricular pleasures. He played oboe on the Beatles’ “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” and alto saxophone on their single “You Know My Name.” He can also be heard playing percussion on Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “All Along the Watchtower” and sitar on his songs “My Little One” and “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That.”
The Mysterious Death of Jim Morrison
Paris. July 2, 1971, early evening. Jim Morrison and his girlfriend Pamela Courson went to the cinema to see Pursued, a western starring Robert Mitchum. At another theater, Jim Morrison sat alone, watching a documentary called Death Valley. Across town, at the Rock ’n’ Roll Circus nightclub, Jim Morrison scored some heroin and OD’d in the bathroom. At the same time, Jim Morrison walked the streets of Paris and shot up with some junkies on skid row. Meanwhile, at Orly Airport, Jim Morrison boarded a plane for an unknown destination.
No one knows for sure where the 27-year-old Jim was or what he did that evening, but by the next morning, one thing was certain: He was dead.
Three months earlier, he had fled Hollywood. Bloated, bearded and out of control with his drinking, the once-svelte Lizard King had become a sad parody of his former self. During the difficult recording sessions for the Doors’ final album, L.A. Woman, Morrison would guzzle as many as 36 beers in a single day. His voice was giving out, and he was struggling with his lyric writing.
On March 11, 1971, he went to Paris for a sabbatical. He intended to get clean, lose some weight and reconnect with his muse.
Of the possible scenarios on the night he died, the first has become the most accepted. After the movie, he and Courson returned to their apartment at No. 17 Rue Beautreillis. They watched some Super 8 films of a recent Moroccan vacation before Courson went to bed. Jim stayed up for a while, listening to old Doors albums, trying to suppress a coughing fit that had started earlier in the evening. When he came to bed, he woke Courson, complaining that he felt sick.
He was up an hour later, feeling worse. When he vomited a small quantity of blood, Courson suggested they call a doctor. Jim instead asked her to run a bath for him. While he stretched out in the tub, she went back to bed. The last thing she remembered hearing Jim say was, “Are you there, Pam? Pam, are you there?”
Courson awoke a little after 6 a.m. and realized Jim wasn’t in bed. She called his name. No answer. In the bathroom, she found him submerged in the water. He had a smile on his face. At first she thought he was playing a joke. She shook him. When he didn’t respond, she called the fire department and then the police. They arrived too late.
Jim Morrison’s corpse, wrapped in plastic and packed in dry ice, remained in the apartment while Courson and Alain Ronay, a friend of the couple’s, made funeral arrangements. Three days later, the undertakers finally delivered the coffin that Courson had ordered (the cheapest possible model, the equivalent of $75 USD). Sometime during those 72 hours, a doctor visited the apartment and signed a death certificate. The official cause was listed as heart failure. No autopsy was performed.
By the time Doors manager Bill Siddons arrived from the United States on July 6, he found a sealed coffin and the death certificate. Only Courson and Ronay had seen Jim’s body before it was buried in Pere La Chaise Cemetery on July 7. When Ronay negotiated the deal to get an American into the famous French graveyard, he accepted a 30-year lease. It expired in 2001. As of this writing, the body has not been exhumed.
Siddons and Courson returned to Los Angeles the next day. Siddons told the press, “I have returned from Paris where I have attended the funeral of Jim Morrison. I can say he died peacefully of natural causes … ” This came six days after Morrison’s death (imagine that in today’s minute-by-minute media world). Questions started: Was there a police investigation? Why was there no autopsy? Who was the examining doctor? (Incredibly, Courson couldn’t remember the doctor’s name, and his signature on the death certificate was illegible). Why weren’t Jim’s parents told? (Courson lied to the American Embassy and said Morrison had no immediate family, which allowed for a quick, no-questions-asked burial. There wasn’t even a priest.)
Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek asked Siddons, “How do you even know Jim was in the coffin? How do you know it wasn’t 150 lbs. of fucking sand?”
Putting aside that notion for a moment, what was it that killed Jim Morrison? There were many theories, from the possible (sexual disease) to the paranoid (he was a victim of a government conspiracy aimed at wiping out counterculture heroes) to the preposterous (a spurned ex-girlfriend killing him with a Wiccan hex).
Danny Sugerman, Doors insider and co-author of the best-selling biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, proposes a plausible theory. He says that Courson told him she had been doing heroin and lying to Jim that it was coke and downers (she died of an overdose in 1974). On the fateful evening, they had snorted heroin together (Morrison was terrified of needles). That summer in Paris, there was a potent version of the drug making the rounds, known as China White. “It’s not unusual when someone does heroin for the first time, for them to feel ill,” Sugerman told MOJO. “He was sick, he took a bath, he died. There was no more mystery than that.”
Many of Jim’s closest friends dispute Sugerman’s theory, saying that despite his penchant for excess, Jim never did hard drugs, and in fact, had a disdain for them.
As for the bigger question of whether he’s still alive, Jim once talked seriously about faking his own death as a publicity stunt, and he often joked to friends that one day, he’d split for Africa and change his name to Mr. Mojo Risin’ (an anagram for Jim Morrison). Over the years, he’s been spotted in Tibet, the Australian outback and the American midwest, where he supposedly rides rodeo and writes poetry on the side.
As Manzarek has said, “We don’t know what happened to Jim in Paris. To be honest, I don’t think we’re ever going to know. Rumors, innuendoes, self-serving lies, psychic projections to justify inner needs and maladies, and just plain goofiness cloud the truth. There are too many conflicting theories.”
Jim Morrison's final hours - and why cause of death remains a mystery
Jim Morrison died 49 years ago today, but The Doors frontman&aposs death still remains shrouded in mystery all these years later.
On July 3, 1971, his girlfriend Pamela Courson found him dead in the bath in their Paris apartment. He was just 27.
The Light My Fire singer had shot to fame in the sixties thanks to his poetic lyrics and wild stage performances, but by the early Seventies he had put on a lot of weight while he battled drug addiction.
His official cause of death was listed as congestive heart failure thought to be brought on by a heroin overdose, though no autopsy was ever performed.
Here we take a look at what happened to the self-proclaimed Lizard King in his final hours and the conspiracy theories about his death.
The Doors recorded their final album, LA Woman, in October 1970 and the following March Jim moved to Paris to live with Pamela, who herself died just three years later.
The band had been struggling to book concerts thanks to Jim&aposs onstage antics.
In 1970, Jim - full name James Douglas Morrison - was convicted of indecent exposure for flashing his privates onstage.
He was sentenced to six months in prison and had to pay a $500 fine, but he remained free while he appealed the conviction and moved to Paris.
The move initially proved to be a good decision for Jim&aposs health the pair enjoyed long walks around the city and he began losing weight.
But just a few months later he would be dead.
The most accepted narrative of the night he died holds that Jim and Pam spent the evening listening to music and taking heroin.
When he began to react badly to the drug, Pam put him in a warm bath, which is said to help revive people suffering from heroin overdoses.
Pam called the emergency services but they failed to revive him and he was pronounced death at the scene.
An autopsy was never performed as this was not a requirement under French law at the time.
But there are other rumours about the way he died.
Pam insisted they&aposd spent that evening at the cinema, before having dinner and listening to records before they fell asleep.
She says in the middle of the night Jim was feeling ill and he went for a hot bath where she found him dead the next morning.
But Jim&aposs friend Sam Bernett says Jim died in the bathroom of the Rock & Roll Circus club, which Sam was the manager of.
Sam claims he showed up looking to buy heroin and took it to the bathroom but never came out.
He says Jim&aposs dealers wanted to cover up his death so they took him back to his apartment, where Pam found him the next morning.
Sam told Associated Press in 2014: "The flamboyant singer of The Doors, the beautiful California boy, had become an inert lump crumpled in the toilet of a nightclub.
"For me it&aposs a very bad memory."
But Marianne Faithfull claims her ex-boyfriend, drug dealer Jean de Breiteuil, is responsible for Jim&aposs death.
She says the two of them had stopped by the frontman&aposs apartment to drop off some heroin just hours before he died but it proved to be too strong and killed him.
Marianne said in 2014: "I mean I’m sure it was an accident. Poor b*****d. The smack was too strong? Yeah. And he died."
In the days between his death and the funeral there were rumours that he had passed away but these were denied, with reporters at the time being told he was in hospital.
Jim was buried in Père Lachaise cemetery in the city the week after he died, with just a few mourners attending the service.
He was listed in the cemetery records under the incorrect name Douglas James Morrison.
The Doors&apos manager Bill Siddon got in contact with Pam who intially insisted he was alive before she admitted the truth.
His death wasn&apost announced to the world until after the funeral - his parents hadn&apost even been informed.
Showbiz editor&aposs picks
Some even believe that Jim faked his own death and went to live in New York City.
Jim&aposs death made him a member of the 27 club, whose members are all famous figures who died at this age.
He passed away exactly two years after Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and approximately nine months after the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.
The mysterious 27 Club has sparked many conspiracy theories in its time.
One claims there was a CIA operation to assassinate popular counterculture musicians in the sixties.
DAY IN HISTORY: Rock and roll loses Morrison, Jones
ROCK and roll lost two of its pioneers after Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and legendary The Doors frontman Jim Morrison died two years apart on July 3.
The duo were at the forefront on the music industry in the 1960s with Jones, the original leader off the Stones, stunning music ability creating hit after hit for the English rockers.
Meanwhile on the US west coast, Morrison, the original 'Lizard King', was creating a musical revolution with his charisma, style and hypnotic poetry.
However, Jones and Morrison both succumbed to their generation's infatuation with alcohol and drugs, a catalyst to their downfalls.
Jones quickly fell out with his bandmates, failing to show up for recording sessions and losing the creative spark that so dominated the Stones' early years.
The last straw came when he was denied a visa to the US for an earlier drug conviction.
Lead singer Mick Jagger and fellow guitarist Keith Richards fired Jones in June 1969 and little more than three weeks later, Jones was mysteriously found dead on the bottom of his pool in Sussex.
Rumours of murder persist with conspiracy theorists but the coroner's official ruling was "death by misadventure".
Morrison, meanwhile, seemed to draw inspiration from a world of haze and out-of-body experiences.
The Doors music, accompanied by Morrison's lyrics, transported music fans to a surreal sphere void of any know boundaries.
But this world didn't seem destined to last and so it was when Morrison, in 1971, was found dead in the bathtub of his girlfriend Pamela Courson's apartment in Paris.
Morrison, based on Courson's testimony that he was drug-free at the time of his death, was officially ruled to have suffered a "heart failure".
However, Morrison biographers, Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, allege that Morrison had died of a heroin overdose.
Jim Morrison was an American singer and poet, best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the rock band The Doors. Due to his wild personality, poetic lyrics, widely recognized voice, unpredictable and erratic performances, and the dramatic circumstances surrounding his life and early death, Morrison is regarded by music critics and fans as one of the most iconic and influential frontmen in rock history. Since his death, his fame has endured as one of popular culture's most rebellious and oft-displayed icons, representing the generation gap and youth counterculture.
Together with Ray Manzarek, Morrison co-founded the Doors during the summer of 1965 in Venice, California. The band spent two years in obscurity until shooting to prominence with their number-one single in the United States, "Light My Fire", taken from their self-titled debut album. Morrison wrote or co-wrote many of the Doors' songs, including "Light My Fire", "Break On Through (To the Other Side)", "The End", "Moonlight Drive", "Wild Child", "The Soft Parade", "People Are Strange", "Hello, I Love You", "Roadhouse Blues", "L.A. Woman", and "Riders on the Storm". He recorded a total of six studio albums with the Doors, all of which sold well and received critical acclaim. Morrison was well known for improvising spoken word poetry passages while the band played live. Manzarek said Morrison "embodied hippie counterculture rebellion".
Morrison developed an alcohol dependency during the 1960s, which at times affected his performances on stage. He died unexpectedly at the age of 27 in Paris, among conflicting witness and alleged witness reports. As no autopsy was performed, the cause of Morrison's death remains disputed. Though the Doors recorded two more albums after Morrison died, his death severely affected the band's fortunes, and they split up in 1973. In 1993, Morrison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Doors. In 2008, he was ranked 47th in Rolling Stone magazine's list "The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time".
Morrison was born in late 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, to Clara Virginia (nພ Clarke) and Lt.(j.g.) George Stephen Morrison, a future rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. His ancestors were Scottish, Irish, and English. Admiral Morrison commanded U.S. naval forces during the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, which provided the pretext for the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in 1965. Morrison had a younger sister, Anne Robin (born 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico), and a younger brother, Andrew Lee Morrison (born 1948 in Los Altos, California).
In 1947, when he was three to four years old, Morrison allegedly witnessed a car accident in the desert, during which a truck overturned and some Native Americans were lying injured at the side of the road. He referred to this incident in the Doors' song "Peace Frog" on their 1970 album Morrison Hotel, as well as in the spoken word performances "Dawn's Highway" and "Ghost Song" on the posthumous 1978 album An American Prayer. Morrison believed this incident to be the most formative event of his life, and made repeated references to it in the imagery in his songs, poems, and interviews.
His family does not recall this traffic incident happening in the way he told it. According to the Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, Morrison's family did drive past a car accident on an Indian reservation when he was a child, and he was very upset by it. The book The Doors, written by the surviving members of the Doors, explains how different Morrison's account of the incident was from that of his father. This book quotes his father as saying, "We went by several Indians. It did make an impression on him [the young James]. He always thought about that crying Indian." This is contrasted sharply with Morrison's tale of "Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death." In the same book, his sister is quoted as saying, "He enjoyed telling that story and exaggerating it. He said he saw a dead Indian by the side of the road, and I don't even know if that's true."
Raised a military brat, Morrison spent part of his childhood in San Diego, completed third grade in northern Virginia at Fairfax County Elementary School, and attended Charles H. Flato Elementary School in Kingsville, Texas, while his father was stationed at NAS Kingsville in 1952. He continued at St. John's Methodist School in Albuquerque, and then Longfellow School Sixth Grade Graduation Program from San Diego.
In 1957, Morrison attended Alameda High School in Alameda, California, for his freshman and first semester of his sophomore year.[self-published source] The Morrison family moved back to northern Virginia in 1959, and he graduated from George Washington High School (now a middle school) in Alexandria in June 1961.
A voracious reader from an early age, Morrison was particularly inspired by the writings of several philosophers and poets. He was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, whose views on aesthetics, morality, and the Apollonian and Dionysian duality would appear in his conversation, poetry and songs. Some of his formative influences were Plutarch's Parallel Lives and the works of the French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose style would later influence the form of Morrison's short prose poems. He was also influenced by William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Louis Ferdinand Celine, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Baudelaire, Molière, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Honoré de Balzac and Jean Cocteau, along with most of the French existentialist philosophers.
His senior year English teacher said, "Jim read as much and probably more than any student in class, but everything he read was so offbeat I had another teacher (who was going to the Library of Congress) check to see if the books Jim was reporting on actually existed. I suspected he was making them up, as they were English books on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century demonology. I'd never heard of them, but they existed, and I'm convinced from the paper he wrote that he read them, and the Library of Congress would've been the only source."
Morrison went to live with his paternal grandparents in Clearwater, Florida, and attended St. Petersburg Junior College. In 1962, he transferred to Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, and appeared in a school recruitment film. While at FSU, Morrison was arrested for disturbing the peace while drunk at a home football game on September 28, 1963.
1964: College experience in Los Angeles In January 1964, Morrison moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Seven months later, his father commanded a carrier division of the U.S. fleet during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. At UCLA, Morrison enrolled in Jack Hirschman's class on Antonin Artaud in the Comparative Literature program within the UCLA English Department. Artaud's brand of surrealist theatre had a profound impact on Morrison's dark poetic sensibility of cinematic theatricality.
Morrison completed his undergraduate degree at UCLA's film school within the Theater Arts department of the College of Fine Arts in 1965. At the time of the graduation ceremony, he went to Venice Beach, and the university mailed his diploma to his mother in Coronado, California. He made several short films while attending UCLA. First Love, the first of these films, made with Morrison's classmate and roommate Max Schwartz, was released to the public when it appeared in a documentary about the film Obscura.
During these years, while living in Venice Beach, he befriended writers at the Los Angeles Free Press, for which he advocated until his death in 1971. He conducted a lengthy and in-depth interview with Bob Chorush and Andy Kent, both working for the Free Press at the time (approximately December 6𠄸, 1970), and was planning on visiting the headquarters of the busy newspaper shortly before leaving for Paris.
In the summer of 1965, after graduating with a bachelor's degree from the UCLA film school, Morrison led a bohemian lifestyle in Venice Beach. Living on the rooftop of a building inhabited by his old UCLA cinematography friend, Dennis Jacobs, he wrote the lyrics of many of the early songs the Doors would later perform live and record on albums, such as "Moonlight Drive" and "Hello, I Love You". According to Manzarek, he lived on canned beans and LSD for several months. Morrison and fellow UCLA student Ray Manzarek were the first two members of the Doors, forming the group during that summer. They had met months earlier as cinematography students. The story claims that Manzarek was lying on the beach at Venice one day, where he accidentally encountered Morrison. He was impressed with Morrison's poetic lyrics, claiming that they were "rock group" material. Subsequently, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore joined. Krieger auditioned at Densmore's recommendation and was then added to the lineup. All three musicians shared a common interest in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's meditation practices at the time, attending scheduled classes, but Morrison was not involved in these series of classes.
The Doors took their name from the title of Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception (a reference to the unlocking of doors of perception through psychedelic drug use). Huxley's own title was a quotation from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which Blake wrote: "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." Although Morrison was known as the lyricist of the group, Krieger also made significant lyrical contributions, writing or co-writing some of the group's biggest hits, including "Light My Fire", "Love Me Two Times", "Love Her Madly" and "Touch Me". On the other hand, Morrison, who did not write most songs using an instrument, would come up with vocal melodies for his own lyrics, with the other band members contributing chords and rhythm. Morrison did not play an instrument live (except for maracas and tambourine for most shows, and harmonica on a few occasions) or in the studio (excluding maracas, tambourine, handclaps, and whistling). However, he did play the grand piano on "Orange County Suite" and a Moog synthesizer on "Strange Days".
In June 1966, Morrison and the Doors were the opening act at the Whisky a Go Go in the last week of the residency of Van Morrison's band Them. Van's influence on Jim's developing stage performance was later noted by Brian Hinton in his book Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison: "Jim Morrison learned quickly from his near namesake's stagecraft, his apparent recklessness, his air of subdued menace, the way he would improvise poetry to a rock beat, even his habit of crouching down by the bass drum during instrumental breaks." On the final night, the two Morrisons and their two bands jammed together on "Gloria". In November 1966, Morrison and the Doors produced a promotional film for "Break on Through (To the Other Side)", which was their first single release. The film featured the four members of the group playing the song on a darkened set with alternating views and close-ups of the performers while Morrison lip-synched the lyrics. Morrison and the Doors continued to make short music films, including "The Unknown Soldier", "Moonlight Drive" and "People Are Strange".
The Doors achieved national recognition after signing with Elektra Records in 1967. The single "Light My Fire" spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July/August 1967. This was a far cry from the Doors opening for Simon and Garfunkel or playing at a high school as they did in Connecticut that same year. Later, the Doors appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a popular Sunday night variety series that had introduced the Beatles and Elvis Presley to the United States. Ed Sullivan requested two songs from the Doors for the show, "People Are Strange" and "Light My Fire". Sullivan's censors insisted that the Doors change the lyrics of the song "Light My Fire" from "Girl we couldn't get much higher" to "Girl we couldn't get much better" for the television viewers this was reportedly due to what was perceived as a reference to drugs in the original lyrics. After giving assurances of compliance to the producer in the dressing room, the band agreed and proceeded to sing the song with the original lyrics. Sullivan was not happy and he refused to shake hands with Morrison or any other band member after their performance. Sullivan had a show producer tell the band that they would never appear on The Ed Sullivan Show again. Morrison reportedly said to the producer, in a defiant tone, "Hey man. We just did the Sullivan Show!"
By the release of their second album, Strange Days, the Doors had become one of the most popular rock bands in the United States. Their blend of blues and dark psychedelic rock included a number of original songs and distinctive cover versions, such as their rendition of "Alabama Song", from Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The band also performed a number of extended concept works, including the songs "The End", "When the Music's Over", and "Celebration of the Lizard". In 1966, photographer Joel Brodsky took a series of black-and-white photos of Morrison, in a photo shoot known as "The Young Lion" photo session. These photographs are considered among the most iconic images of Jim Morrison and are frequently used as covers for compilation albums, books, and other memorabilia of the Doors and Morrison. In late 1967 at a concert in New Haven, Connecticut, he was arrested on stage, an incident that further added to his mystique and emphasized his rebellious image. Morrison became the first rock artist to be arrested onstage during a concert performance.
In 1968, the Doors released their third studio album, Waiting for the Sun. The band performed on July 5 at the Hollywood Bowl this performance became famous with the DVD: Live at the Hollywood Bowl. It's also this year that the band played, for the first time, in Europe. Their fourth album, The Soft Parade, was released in 1969. It was the first album where the individual band members were given credit on the inner sleeve for the songs they had written. Previously, each song on their albums had been credited simply to "The Doors". On September 6 and 7, 1968, the Doors played four performances at the Roundhouse, London, England with Jefferson Airplane which was filmed by Granada for a television documentary The Doors Are Open directed by John Sheppard. Around this time, Morrison—who had long been a heavy drinker—started showing up for recording sessions visibly inebriated. He was also frequently late for live performances.
By early 1969, the formerly svelte singer had gained weight, grown a beard and mustache, and begun dressing more casually — abandoning the leather pants and concho belts for slacks, jeans, and T-shirts. During a concert on March 1 at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, Morrison attempted to spark a riot in the audience, in part by screaming "You wanna see my cock?" and other obscenities. He failed, but six warrants for his arrest were issued by the Dade County Police department three days later for indecent exposure, among other things. Consequently, many of the Doors' scheduled concerts were canceled. After Miami, Morrison lost his desire to perform with The Doors, and even tried to quit many times. He had become tired of the rock-star life. On September 20, 1970, Morrison was convicted of indecent exposure and profanity by a six-person jury in Miami after a trial that had 16 days of testimony. Morrison, who attended the October 30 sentencing "in a wool jacket adorned with Indian designs", silently listened as he was sentenced to six months in prison and had to pay a $500 fine. Morrison remained free on a $50,000 bond. At the sentencing, Judge Murray Goodman told Morrison that he was a "person graced with a talent" admired by many of his peers Morrison remained free on $50,000 bond while the conviction was appealed. His death eight months later made the appeal a moot point.
On December 8, 2010—the 67th anniversary of Morrison's birth𠅏lorida Governor Charlie Crist and the state clemency board unanimously signed a complete posthumous pardon for Morrison. Drummer John Densmore denied Morrison ever exposed himself on stage that night.
Following The Soft Parade, the Doors released Morrison Hotel. After a lengthy break, the group reconvened in October 1970 to record their final album with Morrison, titled L.A. Woman. Shortly after the recording sessions for the album began, producer Paul A. Rothchild — who had overseen all of their previous recordings — left the project, and engineer Bruce Botnick took over as producer.
After recording L.A. Woman in Los Angeles, Morrison joined Pamela Courson in Paris in March 1971, at an apartment she had rented for him at 17, Rue Beautreillis in Le Marais, 4th arrondissement, Paris. In letters, he described going for long walks through the city, alone. During this time, he shaved his beard and lost some of the weight he had gained in the previous months. He died on July 3, 1971, at age 27. He was reportedly found by Courson in the bathtub of the apartment. The official cause of death was listed as heart failure, although no autopsy was performed, as it was not required by French law. It has also been reported, by several individuals who say they were eyewitnesses, that his death was due to an accidental heroin overdose.
His death came two years to the day after the death of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and approximately nine months after the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin — all of whom died at the age of 27. Three years after his death, Courson also died at the age of 27.
Morrison's early life was the semi-nomadic existence typical of military families. Jerry Hopkins recorded Morrison's brother, Andy, explaining that his parents had determined never to use physical corporal punishment such as spanking on their children. They instead instilled discipline and levied punishment by the military tradition known as "dressing down". This consisted of yelling at and berating the children until they were reduced to tears and acknowledged their failings. Once Morrison graduated from UCLA, he broke off most contact with his family. By the time Morrison's music ascended to the top of the charts (in 1967) he had not been in communication with his family for more than a year and falsely claimed that his parents and siblings were dead (or claiming, as it has been widely misreported, that he was an only child).
This misinformation was published as part of the materials distributed with the Doors' self-titled debut album. Admiral Morrison was not supportive of his son's career choice in music. One day, an acquaintance brought over a record thought to have Jim on the cover. The record was the Doors' self-titled debut. The young man played the record for Morrison's father and family. Upon hearing the record, Morrison's father wrote him a letter telling him "to give up any idea of singing or any connection with a music group because of what I consider to be a complete lack of talent in this direction." In a letter to the Florida Probation and Parole Commission District Office dated October 2, 1970, Morrison's father acknowledged the breakdown in family communications as the result of an argument over his assessment of his son's musical talents. He said he could not blame his son for being reluctant to initiate contact and that he was proud of him.
Morrison spoke fondly of his Irish and Scottish ancestry and was inspired by Celtic mythology in his poetry and songs. Celtic Family Magazine revealed in its 2016 Spring Issue that his Morrison clan was originally from the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, while his Irish side, the Clelland clan who married into the Morrison line, were from County Down, Northern Ireland.
Relationships Morrison was sought after by many as a photographer's model, confidante, romantic partner and sexual conquest. Throughout his life he had at least several serious, ongoing relationships, and many casual encounters. By many accounts, he could also be inconsistent with his partners, displaying what some recall as "a dual personality". Doors producer Paul Rothchild recalls, "Jim really was two very distinct and different people. A Jekyll and Hyde. When he was sober, he was Jekyll, the most erudite, balanced, friendly kind of guy . He was Mr. America. When he would start to drink, he'd be okay at first, then, suddenly, he would turn into a maniac. Turn into Hyde."
Morrison spent the majority of his adult life in an open, and at times very charged and intense, relationship with Pamela Courson. They met while both were attending college, and she encouraged him to develop his poetry. Through to the end, Courson saw Morrison as more than a rock star, as "a great poet" she constantly encouraged him and pushed him to write. Courson attended his concerts, and focused on supporting his career. Like Morrison, she was described by many as fiery, determined and attractive, as someone who was tough despite appearing fragile. Manzarek called Pamela "Jim's other half" and said, "I never knew another person who could so complement his bizarreness." Courson was buried by her family as Pamela Susan Morrison, after Jim Morrison's death, despite the two having never been married. After Courson's death in 1974, and her parents petitioned the court for inheritance of Morrison's estate, the probate court in California decided that she and Morrison had once had what qualified as a common-law marriage, despite neither having applied for such status, and the common-law marriage not being recognized in California. Morrison's will at the time of his death named Courson as the sole heir. Morrison dedicated his published poetry books The Lords and New Creatures and the lost writings Wilderness to her. A number of writers have speculated that songs like "Love Street", "Orange County Suite" and "Queen of the Highway", among other songs, may have been written about her. Though the relationship was "tumultuous" much of the time, and both also had relationships with others, they always maintained a unique and ongoing connection with one another, right up until the end.
One of Morrison's early significant relationships was with Mary Werbelow, whom he met on the beach in Florida, when they were teenagers in 1962. In a 2005 interview with the St. Petersburg Times, she said Morrison spoke to her before a photo shoot for the Doors' fourth album and told her the first three albums were about her.
Throughout his career, Morrison had regular sexual and romantic encounters with fans (including groupies) such as Pamela Des Barres, as well as ongoing affairs with other musicians, writers and photographers involved in the music business. These included Nico, an encounter with singer Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane while the two bands toured together, an on-again, off-again relationship with 16 Magazine's Gloria Stavers, as well as an alleged alcohol-fueled encounter with Janis Joplin.
David Crosby said many years later Morrison treated Joplin meanly at a party at the Calabasas, California, home of John Davidson while Davidson was out of town. She reportedly hit him over the head with a bottle of whiskey in retaliation during a fight in front of witnesses. Thereafter, whenever Joplin had a conversation with someone who mentioned Morrison, Joplin referred to him as "that asshole", never by his first or last name.
First written about in No One Here Gets Out Alive, Break On Through, and later in her own memoir, Strange Days: My Life with and without Jim Morrison, Morrison participated in a Celtic Pagan handfasting ceremony with rock critic Patricia Kennealy. The couple signed a handwritten document, and were declared wed by a Celtic High Priestess and High Priest on Midsummer's Night in 1970, but none of the necessary paperwork for a legal marriage was filed with the state. The couple had been friends, and then in a long-distance relationship, since meeting at a private interview for Jazz & Pop magazine in January 1969. The handfasting ceremony is described in No One Here Gets Out Alive as a "blending of souls on a karmic and cosmic plane". Morrison was also still seeing Pamela Courson when he was in Los Angeles, and later moved to Paris for the summer where Courson had acquired an apartment. In an interview in the book Rock Wives, Kennealy says he turned "really cold" when she became pregnant, leading her to speculate that maybe he hadn't taken the wedding as seriously as he'd led her to believe. She also notes that his coldness and distance was during the trial in Miami, and that "he was scared to death. They were really out to put him away. Jim was devastated that he wasn't getting any public support." As he did with so many people, Morrison could be cruel and cold and then turn warm and loving he wrote in letters that he was planning on returning to her, to New York City, in the fall of '71. However, Kennealy was skeptical. Morrison seemed to be falling apart. He was back with Courson in Paris, he was severely alcoholic and in poor health, and like many, Kennealy feared he was dying.
At the time of Morrison's death, there were multiple paternity actions pending against him, although no claims were made against his estate by any of the putative paternity claimants.
Although Morrison's early education was routinely disrupted as he moved from school to school, he was drawn to the study of literature, poetry, religion, philosophy and psychology, among other fields. Biographers have consistently pointed to a number of writers and philosophers who influenced Morrison's thinking and, perhaps, his behavior. While still in his adolescence, Morrison discovered the works of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He was also drawn to the poetry of William Blake, Charles Baudelaire, and Arthur Rimbaud. Beat Generation writers such as Jack Kerouac and libertine writers such as the Marquis de Sade also had a strong influence on Morrison's outlook and manner of expression Morrison was eager to experience the life described in Kerouac's On the Road. He was similarly drawn to the work of French writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Céline's book, Voyage Au Bout de la Nuit (Journey to the End of the Night) and Blake's Auguries of Innocence both echo through one of Morrison's early songs, "End of the Night".
Morrison later met and befriended Michael McClure, a well-known Beat poet. McClure had enjoyed Morrison's lyrics but was even more impressed by his poetry and encouraged him to further develop his craft. Morrison's vision of performance was colored by the works of 20th-century French playwright Antonin Artaud (author of Theater and its Double) and by Judith Malina and Julian Beck's Living Theater.
Other works relating to religion, mysticism, ancient myth and symbolism were of lasting interest, particularly Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. James Frazer's The Golden Bough also became a source of inspiration and is reflected in the title and lyrics of the song "Not to Touch the Earth". Morrison was particularly attracted to the myths and religions of Native American cultures.
While he was still at school, his family moved to New Mexico where he got to see some of the places and artifacts important to the American Southwest Indigenous cultures. These interests appear to be the source of many references to creatures and places such as lizards, snakes, deserts and "ancient lakes" that appear in his songs and poetry. His interpretation and imagination of Native American ceremonies and peoples (which, based on his readings, he referred to by the anthropological term "shamans") influenced his stage routine, notably in seeking trance states and vision through dancing to the point of exhaustion. In particular, Morrison's poem "The Ghost Song" was inspired by his readings about the Native American Ghost Dance.
Morrison's vocal influences included Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, which is evident in his baritone crooning style on several of the Doors' songs. In the 1981 documentary The Doors: A Tribute to Jim Morrison, producer Paul Rothchild relates his first impression of Morrison as being a "Rock and Roll Bing Crosby". Sugerman states that Morrison, as a teenager, was such a fan of Presley that he demanded silence when Elvis was on the radio. He states that Sinatra was Morrison's favorite singer. According to record producer David Anderle, Morrison considered Brian Wilson "his favorite musician" and the Beach Boys' 1967 LP Wild Honey "one of his favorite albums. . he really got into it."
Wallace Fowlie, professor emeritus of French literature at Duke University, wrote Rimbaud and Jim Morrison, subtitled "The Rebel as Poet – A Memoir". In this, he recounts his surprise at receiving a fan letter from Morrison who, in 1968, thanked him for his latest translation of Arthur Rimbaud's verse into English. "I don't read French easily", he wrote, ". your book travels around with me." Fowlie went on to give lectures on numerous campuses comparing the lives, philosophies, and poetry of Morrison and Rimbaud. The book The Doors by the remaining Doors quotes Morrison's close friend Frank Lisciandro as saying that too many people took a remark of Morrison's that he was interested in revolt, disorder, and chaos "to mean that he was an anarchist, a revolutionary, or, worse yet, a nihilist. Hardly anyone noticed that Jim was paraphrasing Rimbaud and the Surrealist poets".
Morrison began writing in earnest during his adolescence. At UCLA he studied the related fields of theater, film, and cinematography. He self-published two separate volumes of his poetry in 1969, titled The Lords / Notes on Vision and The New Creatures. The Lords consists primarily of brief descriptions of places, people, events and Morrison's thoughts on cinema. The New Creatures verses are more poetic in structure, feel and appearance. These two books were later combined into a single volume titled The Lords and The New Creatures. These were the only writings published during Morrison's lifetime. Morrison befriended Beat poet Michael McClure, who wrote the afterword for Jerry Hopkins' biography of Morrison, No One Here Gets Out Alive. McClure and Morrison reportedly collaborated on a number of unmade film projects, including a film version of McClure's infamous play The Beard, in which Morrison would have played Billy the Kid. After his death, a further two volumes of Morrison's poetry were published. The contents of the books were selected and arranged by Morrison's friend, photographer Frank Lisciandro, and girlfriend Pamela Courson's parents, who owned the rights to his poetry.
The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison Volume I is titled Wilderness, and, upon its release in 1988, became an instant New York Times Bestseller. Volume II, The American Night, released in 1990, was also a success. Morrison recorded his own poetry in a professional sound studio on two separate occasions. The first was in March 1969 in Los Angeles and the second was on December 8, 1970. The latter recording session was attended by Morrison's personal friends and included a variety of sketch pieces. Some of the segments from the 1969 session were issued on the bootleg album The Lost Paris Tapes and were later used as part of the Doors' An American Prayer album, released in 1978. The album reached No. 54 on the music charts. Some poetry recorded from the December 1970 session remains unreleased to this day and is in the possession of the Courson family. Morrison's best-known but seldom seen cinematic endeavor is HWY: An American Pastoral, a project he started in 1969. Morrison financed the venture and formed his own production company in order to maintain complete control of the project. Paul Ferrara, Frank Lisciandro, and Babe Hill assisted with the project. Morrison played the main character, a hitchhiker turned killer/car thief. Morrison asked his friend, composer/pianist Fred Myrow, to select the soundtrack for the film.
Paris Journal After his death, a notebook of poetry written by Morrison was recovered, titled Paris Journal amongst other personal details, it contains the allegorical foretelling of a man who will be left grieving and having to abandon his belongings, due to a police investigation into a death connected to the Chinese opium trade. "Weeping, he left his pad on orders from police and furnishings hauled away, all records and mementos, and reporters calculating tears & curses for the press: 'I hope the Chinese junkies get you' and they will for the [opium] poppy rules the world".
The concluding stanzas of this poem convey disappointment for someone with whom he had had an intimate relationship and contain a further invocation of Billy the killer/Hitchhiker, a common character in Morrison's body of work. "This is my poem for you, Great flowing funky flower'd beast, Great perfumed wreck of hell. Someone new in your knickers & who would that be? You know, You know more, than you let on. Tell them you came & saw & look'd into my eyes & saw the shadow of the guard receding, Thoughts in time & out of season The Hitchhiker stood by the side of the road & levelled his thumb in the calm calculus of reason."
In 2013, another of Morrison's notebooks from Paris, found alongside the Paris Journal in the same box, known as the 127 Fascination box, sold for $250,000 at auction. This box of personal belongings similarly contained a home movie of Pamela Courson dancing in an unspecified cemetery in Corsica, the only film so far recovered to have been filmed by Morrison. The box also housed a number of older notebooks and journals and may initially have included the "Steno Pad" and the falsely titled The Lost Paris Tapes bootleg, if they had not been separated from the primary collection and sold by Philippe Dalecky with this promotional title. Those familiar with the voices of Morrison's friends and colleagues later determined that, contrary to the story advanced by Dalecky that this was Morrison's final recording made with busking Parisian musicians, the Lost Paris Tapes are in fact of "Jomo & The Smoothies": Morrison, friend Michael McClure and producer Paul Rothchild loose jamming in Los Angeles, well before Paris 1971.
Morrison was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, one of the city's most visited tourist attractions, where Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, French cabaret singer Edith Piaf, and many other poets and artists are also buried. The grave had no official marker until French officials placed a shield over it, which was stolen in 1973. The grave was listed in the cemetery directory with Morrison's name incorrectly arranged as "Douglas James Morrison".
In 1981, Croatian sculptor Mladen Mikulin voluntarily placed a bust of his own design and a new gravestone with Morrison's name at the grave to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Morrison's death the bust was defaced through the years by vandals, and later stolen in 1988. Mikulin made another bust of Morrison in 1989, and a bronze portrait of him in 2001 neither piece is at the gravesite.
In 1990, Morrison's father, George Stephen Morrison, after a consultation with E. Nicholas Genovese, Professor of Classics and Humanities, San Diego State University, placed a flat stone on the grave. The bronze plaque thereon bears the Greek inscription: ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ, usually translated as "true to his own spirit" or "according to his own daemon".
Morrison was, and continues to be, one of the most popular and influential singer-songwriters and iconic frontmen in rock history. To this day Morrison is widely regarded as the prototypical rock star: surly, sexy, scandalous, and mysterious. The leather pants he was fond of wearing both onstage and off have since become stereotyped as rock-star apparel.[dubious – discuss] In 2011, a Rolling Stone readers' pick placed Jim Morrison in fifth place of the magazine's "Best Lead Singers of All Time". He was also ranked number 22 on Classic Rock magazine's "50 Greatest Singers in Rock". In 1993, Morrison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Doors.
Iggy and the Stooges are said to have formed after lead singer Iggy Pop was inspired by Morrison while attending a Doors concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One of Pop's most popular songs, "The Passenger", is said to be based on one of Morrison's poems. Layne Staley, the vocalist of Alice in Chains Morten Harket, The vocalist of A-ha Eddie Vedder, the vocalist of Pearl Jam Scott Weiland, the vocalist of Stone Temple Pilots, and Velvet Revolver Glenn Danzig, singer, and founder of Danzig Julian Casablancas of the Strokes James LaBrie of Dream Theater Scott Stapp of Creed and Ville Valo of H.I.M. have all said that Morrison was their biggest influence and inspiration. Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver have both covered "Roadhouse Blues" by the Doors. Weiland also filled in for Morrison to perform "Break On Through (To the Other Side)" with the rest of the Doors. Stapp filled in for Morrison for "Light My Fire", "Riders on the Storm" and "Roadhouse Blues" on VH1 Storytellers Travis Meeks, of Days of the New, also performed "The End". Creed performed their version of "Roadhouse Blues" with Robby Krieger for the 1999 Woodstock Festival.
Morrison's recital of his poem "Bird of Prey" can be heard throughout the song "Sunset" by Fatboy Slim. Rock band Bon Jovi featured Morrison's grave in their "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" video clip. The band Radiohead mentions Jim Morrison in their song "Anyone Can Play Guitar", stating "I wanna be wanna be wanna be Jim Morrison". Alice Cooper in the liner notes of the album Killer stated that the song "Desperado" is about Jim Morrison. The leather trousers of U2's lead singer Bono's "The Fly" persona for the Achtung Baby era and subsequent Zoo TV Tour is attributed to Jim Morrison. In 2012 electronic music producer Skrillex released "Breakn' a Sweat" which contained vocals from an interview with Jim Morrison.
Morrison was also referenced in the Lana Del Rey song "Gods & Monsters" in the line "living like Jim Morrison".
- Pamela Courson, after her death the probate court in California decided that she and Morrison had what qualified as a common-law marriage.
- Patricia Kennealy, married in a Celtic Pagan handfasting ceremony, the couple signed a document declaring themselves wedded, but none of the paperwork was filed with the state.
Jim Morrison was the son of Rear Admiral George Stephen Morrison and Clara Clarke.
In June 2013, a fossil analysis discovered a large lizard in Myanmar. The extinct reptile was given the moniker Barbaturex morrisoni in honor of Morrison. "This is a king lizard, and he was the lizard king, so it just fit," said Jason Head, a paleontologist at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Following The Doors' explosive rise to fame in 1967, Morrison developed a severe alcohol and drug dependence which culminated in his death in Paris in 1971 at age 27, due to a suspected heroin overdose. However, the events surrounding his death continue to be the subject of controversy, as no autopsy was performed on his body after death, and the exact cause of his death is disputed by many to this day.
Morrison was well-known for often improvising spoken word poetry passages while the band played live. Due to his wild personality and performances, he is regarded by some people as one of the most iconic, charismatic and pioneering frontmen in rock music history. Morrison was ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time", and number 22 on Classic Rock Magazine's "50 Greatest Singers In Rock".
Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1968)
The Doors: A Tribute to Jim Morrison (1981)
The Doors: Dance on Fire (1985)
The Soft Parade, a Retrospective (1991)
The Doors: No One Here Gets Out Alive (2001)
Final 24: Jim Morrison (2007), The Biography Channel
When You're Strange (2009), Won the Grammy Award for Best Long Form Video in 2011.
Rock Poet: Jim Morrison (2010)
Morrison's Mustang – A Vision Quest to Find The Blue Lady (2011, in production)
Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman (2011)
The Doors Live at the Bowl '68 (2012)
The Doors: R-Evolution (2013)
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 (2018)
The Doors (1991), A fictional film by director Oliver Stone, starring Val Kilmer as Morrison and with cameos by Krieger and Densmore. Kilmer's performance was praised by some critics. While the film was inspired by many real events and people, Ray Manzarek, the Doors' keyboardist, and others interviewed in the companion documentary, harshly criticized Stone's portrayal of Morrison and noted that numerous events and people depicted in the movie were pure fiction. David Crosby on an album by CPR wrote and recorded a song about the movie with the lyric: "And I have seen that movie – and it wasn't like that."
The Lords and the New Creatures (1969). 1985 edition: ISBN 0-7119-0552-5
An American Prayer (1970) privately printed by Western Lithographers. (Unauthorized edition also published in 1983, Zeppelin Publishing Company, ISBN 0-915628-46-5. The authenticity of the unauthorized edition has been disputed.)
Arden lointain, edition bilingue (1988), trad. de l'américain et présenté par Sabine Prudent et Werner Reimann. [Paris]: C. Bourgois. 157 p. N.B.: Original texts in English, with French translations, on facing pages. ISBN 2-267-00560-3
Wilderness: The Lost Writings Of Jim Morrison (1988). 1990 edition: ISBN 0-14-011910-8
The American Night: The Writings of Jim Morrison (1990). 1991 edition: ISBN 0-670-83772-5
Linda Ashcroft, Wild Child: Life with Jim Morrison, (1997) ISBN 1-56025-249-9
Lester Bangs, "Jim Morrison: Bozo Dionysus a Decade Later" in Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader, John Morthland, ed. Anchor Press (2003) ISBN 0-375-71367-0
Stephen Davis, Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend, (2004) ISBN 1-59240-064-7
John Densmore, Riders on the Storm: My Life With Jim Morrison and the Doors (1991) ISBN 0-385-30447-1
Dave DiMartino, Moonlight Drive (1995) ISBN 1-886894-21-3
Steven Erkel, "The Poet Behind The Doors: Jim Morrison's Poetry and the 1960s Countercultural Movement" (2011)
Wallace Fowlie, Rimbaud and Jim Morrison (1994) ISBN 0-8223-1442-8
Jerry Hopkins, The Lizard King: The Essential Jim Morrison (1995) ISBN 0-684-81866-3
Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, No One Here Gets Out Alive (1980) ISBN 0-85965-138-X Huddleston, Judy, Love Him Madly: An Intimate Memoir of Jim Morrison (2013) ISBN 9781613747506
Mike Jahn, "Jim Morrison and The Doors", (1969) Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 71-84745
Dylan Jones, Jim Morrison: Dark Star, (1990) ISBN 0-7475-0951-4
Patricia Kennealy, Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison (1992) ISBN 0-525-93419-7
Gerry Kirstein, "Some Are Born to Endless Night: Jim Morrison, Visions of Apocalypse and Transcendence" (2012) ISBN 1451558066
Frank Lisciandro, Morrison: A Feast of Friends (1991) ISBN 0-446-39276-6, Morrison – Un festin entre amis (1996) (French)
Frank Lisciandro, Jim Morrison: An Hour For Magic (A Photojournal) (1982) ISBN 0-85965-246-7, James Douglas Morrison (2005) (French)
Ray Manzarek, Light My Fire (1998) ISBN 0-446-60228-0. First by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman (1981) Peter Jan Margry, The Pilgrimage to Jim Morrison's Grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery: The Social Construction of Sacred Space. In idem (ed.), Shrines and Pilgrimage in the Modern World. New Itineraries into the Sacred. Amsterdam University Press, 2008, p. 145.
Thanasis Michos, The Poetry of James Douglas Morrison (2001) ISBN 960-7748-23-9 (Greek) Daveth Milton, We Want The World: Jim Morrison, The Living Theatre, and the FBI, (2012) ISBN 978-0957051188 Mark Opsasnick, The Lizard King Was Here: The Life and Times of Jim Morrison in Alexandria, Virginia (2006) ISBN 1-4257-1330-0
James Riordan & Jerry Prochnicky, Break on through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison (1991) ISBN 0-688-11915-8
Adriana Rubio, Jim Morrison: Ceremony. Exploring the Shaman Possession (2005) ISBN Howard Sounes. 27: A History of the 27 Club Through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse, Boston: Da Capo Press, 2013. ISBN 0-306-82168-0. The Doors (remaining members Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore) with Ben Fong-Torres, The Doors (2006) ISBN 1-4013-0303-X
Mick Wall, "Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre: A Biography of the Doors", (2014)
Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington
Unfortunately, Ian Curtis isn't the only person with a dark link to Chris Cornell. Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington were pretty good friends, but these two did something that most friends do not and should not do — they both committed suicide. After Cornell reportedly hanged himself on May 18, 2017, Bennington wrote an emotional open letter to him, saying how much he missed and loved him, and adding, "You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one." In a heartbreaking turn of events, Bennington took his own life, reportedly also by hanging, on what would have been Cornell's next birthday (53) on July 20, 2017, according to TMZ. We can only hope that the copycat acts stop here.