December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971
Member of the 27 Club
As the charismatic front man for the Doors, Jim Morrison exemplified all that is rock music. In life and in death, his impact on popular culture cannot be denied. Moving to Los Angeles in 1964, Morrison enrolled in UCLA’s film school where he met Ray Manzarek. The following year they formed the Doors with Robbie Krieger and John Densmore. In 1967, the Doors signed with Elektra Records and were soon invited to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show where Morrison’s use of the lyric “higher” instead of “better” maddened Sullivan enough to forever ban them from the show. If anything, that only added momentum to the Doors’ ascent, and by the time of their second release, they were one of the most popular bands in the world. The Doors continued to record several now-classic rock albums and blow away concert audiences along the way. By 1969 though, Morrison’s physical appearance had dramatically changed…the once leather-wearing rock god was now a husky bearded mountain-of-a-man more closely resembling a lumberjack than a rock star. And his performances were becoming more erratic as well. One concert in Miami ended with a warrant out for Morrison’s arrest on indecent exposure charges after he tried to incite a riot out of the crowd. He was later exonerated of those charges. Morrison moved to Paris in April of 1971 with long-time companion Pamela Courson. On July 3, 1971, Courson found Morrison dead in his bathtub, but under French law, no autopsy was conducted. The coroner claimed to have found no evidence of foul play and ruled it heart failure. Of course, there have been numerous articles and books written about Morrison’s mysterious death. Some say suicide, while others claim that Courson was responsible either accidentally or intentionally. While still others believe he staged the whole thing and is alive and well somewhere.
What You Should Own