Jim Morrison


American rock singer and rock lyric who achieved after his death a cult position among fans. Morrison wished to be accepted as a serious artist, and he published such collections of poetry as An American Prayer (1970) and The Lords and The New Creatures (1971). The song lyrics Morrison wrote for The Doors much reflected the tensions of the time - drug culture, the antiwar movement, avant-garde art. With his early death Morrison has been seen as a voluntary victim of the destructive forces in pop culture. However, he was not ignorant about the consequences of fame and his position as an idol. Morrison once confessed that "We're more interested in the dark side of life, the evil thing, the night time."

"This is the end, beautiful friend.
It hurts to set you free,
But you'll never follow me.
The end of laughter and soft lies.
The end of nights we tried to die.
This is the... end."

Jim Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida. His father was a US Navy admiral and the family moved according to his father's numerous postings. Morrison was early interested in literature, he excelled at school and he had an IQ of 149. Morrison studied theatre arts at the University of California. With his fellow student Ray Manzarek and John Densmore and Robbie Krieger he formed a group which was in 1965 christened The Doors. The name was taken from Aldous Huxley's book on mescaline, The Doors of Perception, which quoted William Blake's poem (If the doors of perception were cleansed / All things would appear infinite). All the members of the band read much, not only Morrison. Their first album, THE DOORS (1967), mixed performances from Bertold Brecht/Kurt Weil's 'Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)' to Willie Dixon's 'Back Door Man'. The lyrics Morrison wrote in 1965 dominated the first two Doors albums. The first single chart success came in July 1967 with 'Light My Fire'.

Between childhood, boyhood,
& manhood (maturity) there
should be sharp lines drawn w/
Tests, deaths, feasts, rites
stories, songs & judgments'
(from Wilderness, 1988)

Like in the late 1950s when the beatniks tried to unite jazz and poetry, Morrison found from music a channel to project his poetry, and add to it a theatrical aspect. Thus improvising and unpredictableness was a part of the band's show on stage. The mythical Lizard King, Morrison's alter ego, appeared first in the best-selling record WAITING FOR THE SUN (1968) in a poem that printed inside the record jacked. I was entitled "The Celebration of the Lizard King". Part of the lyrics were used in "Not to Touch the Earth" and the complete "Celebration" appeared on record ABSOLUTELY LIVE (1970).

Morrison's drinking, exhibitionistic performances, and drug-taking badly affected his singing and input at recordings. "Let's just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That's all it was: just curiosity." (Morrison in Los Angeles, 1969) In Miami in 1969 the audience thought it saw Jim's "snake" - he was charged with exposing himself on stage, in full view of 10.000 people. The police did not arrest him on the spot, for fear that it would cause a riot. Next year Morrison was sentenced 8 months' hard labor and a $500 fine for 'profanity' and 'indecent exposure', but he remained free while the sentence was appealed against. THE SOFT PARADE (1969) was received with mixed emotions but it had a hit single, 'Touch me'.

After Miami everything changed and Morrison put his leather pants in closet. "See me change," he sang. He grew a beard, started to take distance to his fans, and devote more time with projects outside the band. John Densmore has later told in an interview, that although he knew Jim well, there was so much about him that he could not find out. Possessed by his inner visions and urge to write and create music Morrison also had troubles to explain his aims.

"O great creator of being, grant us one more hour
to perform our art and perfect our lives."

In April 1970 MORRISON HOTEL hit the lists in the U.S. and England. It was hailed as a major comeback. One song on it, 'Queen of the Highway', was dedicated Morrison's wife, Pamela. On his 27th birthday, Morrison made the recordings at Elektra's LA studio of his poetry, which later formed the basis of AN AMERICAN PRAYER. The Doors played their last concert with Morrison in New Orleans. It was a disaster - Morrison smashed the microphone into the stage, threw the stand into the crowd and slumped down.

"Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain.
And all the children are insane,
Waiting for the summer rain."

After finishing sessions for a new album, L.A. WOMAN, Morrison escaped to Paris, where he hoped to follow literary career. He never came back from Paris. His first book, THE LORDS AND THE NEW CREATURES, was published by Simon and Schuster in 1971. It went into paperback after selling 15.000 in hardback. An earlier book, AN AMERICAN PRAYER, was privately printed in 1970, but not made widely available until 1978. On 3 July 1971 Morrison was found death in his bathtub. He had regurgitated a small amount of blood on the night of July 2, but claimed he felt fine. Recently had consulted a local doctor concerning a respiratory problem.

Star fish gluttony
what are the word-forms
--for cosmic encounter
wedding flesh & mind
----in one body
(from The American Night, 1990)

Morrison was buried at Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris, which houses remains of many famous artists, statesmen and legendaries from Edith Piaf to Oscar Wilde. In 1990 his graffiti-covered headstone was stolen.


Jim Morrison's grave

All Celebrity Tribute Pages