As per our current Database, Jim Morrison died on Jul 3, 1971 (age 27).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|180 cm (5' 11'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Jim hated his authoritarian father, a navy man, and disowned his entire family. Jim also kept up a long-term, open relationship with Pamela Courson until his death.
Jim Morrison claimed to have witnessed a family of Native Americans injured or killed in a car accident in the desert while traveling with his family as a boy and that their spirits found sanctuary in his body. Jim Morrison recounted this experience in the song "Peace Frog."
Morrison was born in late 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, to Clara Virginia (née 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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!"
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 6–8, 1970), and was planning on visiting the headquarters of the busy newspaper shortly before leaving for Paris.
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 17–19, 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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jim Morrison 76th Anniversary Special
To celebrate the 76th anniversary of the legendary and iconic Jim Morrison, we've put together six articles about his life and work, including a recap of his short but significant life, a quiz, a review of all The Doors six studio albums with Morrison, a collection of his best quotes and more