Jim Morrison was the lyricist and lead singer for The Doors. He became famous for his poetic albeit sometimes disturbing hyperbole and dramatic shock tactics which all came to represent the excesses and temptations of rock ‘n’ roll. His charm and onstage hijinx upstaged the other Doors. Much to the credit of the other members, they appeared to have no problem standing back and playing their eclectic, psychedelic signature sound while Morrison took center stage. Morrison, however, did not always receive that much attention.
Morrison, born in 1943, was raised as the son of a navy rear admiral. Some sources suspect this was the reason for Morrison’s later rock ‘n’ roll rebelliousness. He often denied his roots and told people his parents were both dead. Upon graduating from high school, Morrison signed up for the University of California Los Angeles’ Film And Theatre program in 1964. By the following year, drugs–especially LSD–had become his only “major” and he dropped out to form The Doors with co-founder Ray Manzarek. By the summer of 1967 The Doors–Morrison (lead vocals/lyrics), Manzarek (keyboards), John Densmore (drums) and Robby Krieger (guitar)–had released their premiere platter, The Doors.
Surprisingly, Morrison was originally a bit tentative as the band’s front man. However, as the flower children flocked to the rock of their debut single, “Light My Fire”, he soon fell right into place as the grand lead singer of legend. Their follow-up album, Strange Days, solidified The Doors’ success.
Morrison was soon rid of any of his early shyness as he captured audiences with his onstage persona and trademark throaty baritone vocals. He became both fevered lunatic and sullen poet delivering highly suggestive song lyrics. All too quickly his behavior became (bluntly) bizarre and ever-increasingly erratic.
He broke into a barrage of obscenties at a Connceticutt concert and was arrested on obscenity charges. He would also be busted for being lewd and lascivious in Miami where he mimicked sex on stage. His crazy, questionable behavior onstage and frequent indulgence in any and every hedonistic excess he could experience soon not only put the band’s stability but its very survival in danger.
After the incredibly riotous concerts in 1969 the band decide to return to the studio. They released two more albums–The Soft Parade and Morrison Hotel. Everyone hoped Morrison had rediscovered his rock ‘n’ roll roots and that the unfortunate episodes of the past would not be repeated. Tours were announced to support the albums but once again controversy would raise its sweat-dampened head. Morrison had earned a reputation and police were a constant presence at every gig effectively stunting the magic of their live performances.
1971’s L.A. Woman would be completed but soon Morrison would succumb to the various pressures his behavior had brought upon him and he would attempt to escape to Paris in march of that year. There he would attempt to write poetry with his companion Pam Courson. According to Courson, one morning she would wake to discover Morrison lying dead in the bathtub in their apartment at 17 rue Beautreillis.
Strangely, only Courson and the doctor who signed the death certificate, Dr. Max Vasille, would ever see Morrison’s body. No autopsy was ever performed. Vasille simply noted on the death certificate that Morrison (at age 27) had died due to “a heart problem aggravated by the use of alcohol followed by an abrupt change of temperature.” Essentially, he was under the influence and got into the tub which gave hima heart attack.
To this day people find that explanation fishy. Because of the odd circumstances surrounding Morrison’s death and burial, theories still abound ranging anywhere from accidental heroin overdoes to actual murder being the real cause of his death. There are even those who suggest that Morrison staged his death because he couldn’t handle being a rock star.
Morrison was (supposedly) buried at the Pere-Lachaise Cemetary in Paris, France. His burial site is the fourth most visited tourist spot in Paris with approximately one million visitors a year. People in France wishing to visit the gravesite would be best off taking the Metro. One must take the Nation-Porte Dauphine line and exit at the Phillipe-Augutse stop. From ther one must take the steps leading to the Boulevard de Charonne. From there one need only follow the signs. Morrison’s death was so mysterious that many still wonder if that was actually the end.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.