Jim Morrison - Quotes, Death & The Doors

Jim Morrison was a charismatic singer and composer who was a member of the rock band the Doors from 1960 until his untimely death at the age of 27 in Paris.

Who Was Jim Morrison?

Jim Morrison was a famous rock singer and songwriter from the United States. While attending UCLA for his film studies, he became acquainted with the future members of the band that would become known as the Doors. This legendary group would go on to have songs such as “Light My Fire,” “Hello, I Love You,” “Touch Me,” and “Riders in the Storm.” In 1971, Morrison left the Doors to write poetry and traveled to Paris, where he is believed to have died of heart failure at 27. He was well-known for his drinking, drug use, and wild conduct on stage.

Family Background

James Douglas Morrison, later known professionally as singer and composer Jim Morrison, was born on December 8, 1943, in Melbourne, Florida. His mother, Clara Clarke Morrison, was a homemaker, and his father, George Stephen Morrison, was a naval aviator who rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. Both of his parents were born in the United States. During the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964, a contributing factor at the beginning of the Vietnam War, George served as the United States Navy forces commander aboard the flagship USS Bon Homme Richard. Admiral George Morrison was also a talented pianist, and he frequently entertained his friends by playing for them at gatherings. Andy, Morrison’s younger brother, recalled, “There was usually a big gathering around the piano with my dad playing popular songs that he could pick up by ear.” Andy was referring to the times when Morrison played the piano.

Morrison was an obedient and highly brilliant youngster when he was younger. He did exceptionally well in school and took a particular interest in reading, writing, and sketching during this time. When he was around five years old, he traveled with his family through the desert of New Mexico when he had an event that was both terrible and formative for him. The road was littered with the dead and maimed bodies of those killed when a truck carrying Indian employees lost control and crashed.

Morrison was able to recall: “…all I saw was strange red paint and people lying around, but I knew something was happening because I could dig the vibrations of the people around me, because they’re my parents and all, and all of a sudden I realized that they didn’t know what was happening any more than I did. I knew something was happening because I could dig the vibrations of the people around me. That was the first time I had a real experience with dread.” Even though members of Morrison’s family have since suggested that he exaggerated the incident, it had such a profound impact on him that he described it in the lyrics of his song “Peace Frog” years later: “Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding/ Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind.”

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Rebellious Youth 

Because his father was in the navy, Morrison and his family frequently relocated while he was a boy; first, the family traveled from Florida to California, then settled in Alexandria, Virginia, where Morrison attended George Washington High School. Morrison started to push back against his father’s severe discipline when he was a teenager. He experimented with drink and women and resented various forms of control. His father was a strict disciplinarian. His sister Anne recalled that at one point, he stepped out of class and announced to the instructor that he was going to the hospital to remove a brain tumor. Despite this, Morrison continued to devour books, keep detailed journals, and maintain a passable academic record. In 1961, when he graduated from high school, he asked his parents for the whole works of Nietzsche as a graduation present. This request, a testament to his bookishness and rebelliousness, shows that he was a rebel at heart.

After completing his high school education, Morrison moved back to his home state of Florida to enroll at Florida State University in the capital city of Tallahassee. After achieving a spot on the Dean’s List during his first year of college, Morrison decided to continue his education at the University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in film. The fact that film was still a relatively young academic discipline meant that there was no established authority; this strongly appealed to Morrison, who was known for his freewheeling approach. He explained that he became interested in film because “there are no experts,” meaning that “theoretically, each student knows virtually as much as any professor.”

During his time at UCLA, he also developed a growing interest in poetry, reading voraciously the romantic works of William Blake and the contemporary Beat verse written by Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac while simultaneously writing his poems. Despite this, Morrison quickly lost interest in his film studies, and if it weren’t for his dread of being conscripted into the Vietnam War, he would have dropped out of school entirely. Only because, in his own words, “I didn’t want to go into the army, and I didn’t want to work—and that’s the damned truth,” did he graduate from UCLA in 1965. “That’s the damned truth,” he said.

The Doors

In 1965, Morrison became a band member that would later be known as the Doors. The other band members were classical pianist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robbie Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. Elektra Records signed the Doors the next year, and the band issued their self-titled first album in January of 1967. Morrison served as the vocalist and leader for the Doors at this time. The initial success of “Break on Through (To the Other Side),” the first single released by The Doors, was fairly moderate. The band’s second single, “Light My Fire,” was the one that propelled them to the forefront of the rock and roll world and propelled them to the top of the Billboard pop charts. Later that year, when they played the song live on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Doors and Morrison, in particular, rose to fame due to their performance. Morrison had promised not to sing the phrase “girl we couldn’t get any higher” on the air because of its clear reference to drugs. However, when the cameras rolled, he sang it anyway, confirming his image as rock’s new rebel hero. The Doors’ “Light My Fire” is still their most well-known song, and it is consistently ranked highly on critics’ and fans’ polls of the best rock songs of all time.

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Over the following few years, the Doors issued many albums and songs, each including Jim Morrison’s morbidly poetic lyrics and outrageous stage persona. These elements were combined with the band’s singular and eclectic brand of psychedelic music. Their second studio album, titled Strange Days, was released the following year, in 1967. It included the Top 40 successes “Love Me Two Times” and “People are Strange,” in addition to “When the Music’s Over.” Waiting for the Sun was their third studio album, released several months later in 1968. It featured the singles “Hello, I Love You” (which also reached number one), “Love Street,” and “Five to One.” For the subsequent three years, they went on to release a total of three additional albums, namely The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970), and L.A. Woman (1971).

Morrison’s personal life and public persona were careening swiftly out of control during the band’s brief reign atop the music industry. During this time, the band was at the top of its game. His drunkenness and drug addictions worsened, resulting in violent and vulgar outbursts at concerts. These outbursts attracted the ire of law enforcement officers and club owners throughout the country.

Troubled Times and Death

Although Morrison was briefly married to a music journalist named Patricia Kennealy in a Celtic pagan ceremony in 1970, he left everything to Courson in his will. This is although Morrison spent practically the entirety of his adult life with a lady named Pamela Courson. (By the time he passed away, she was already considered his common-law wife.) Even though he was in relationships with Courson and Kennealy, Morrison never stopped being a notorious womanizer.

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The combination of his drug addiction, explosive temper, and unfaithfulness led to a disastrous situation in New Haven, Connecticut, on the evening of December 9, 1967. When a police officer encountered Morrison backstage before a gig, he was high, drinking, and engaging in sexual activity with a young woman. The officer then blasted him with mace. After that, he stormed the stage and launched into an obscenity-laced rant that resulted in his arrest onstage, which triggered rioting in the surrounding area. Later on, in 1970, Morrison was arrested for reportedly exposing himself during a concert in Florida; however, the charges against him were dropped after his death, many years after his death.

In the spring of 1971, Morrison disengaged from his work with the Doors and relocated to Paris with Courson to regain control of his personal life and put things back in order. Despite this, he continued to struggle with both substance abuse and despair. Courson discovered Morrison dead in the bathtub of their apartment on July 3, 1971. It appears that Morrison passed away from heart failure. Because the French authorities did not find proof of foul play, an autopsy was not performed on him. This, in turn, has led to unending speculation and speculation about a possible conspiracy regarding his passing. Sam Bernett, the owner of a nightclub in Paris, authored a book in 2007 in which he claimed that Morrison died from an overdose of heroin at his establishment and that his body was then taken back to his apartment, where it was allegedly submerged in a bathtub so that the true cause of his death could not be discovered. Jim Morrison was laid to rest in the illustrious Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, and ever since then, the location of his tomb has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. At the time of his passing, he had only 27 years under his belt.

Morrison is considered one of the most renowned and mysterious rock stars. Actor Val Kilmer portrayed him in the biopic The Doors, released in 1991. His lyrical odes to rebellion, which were set to the music of the Doors, inspired a generation of disenfranchised youngsters who found an articulation of their range of feelings in his lyrics. The Doors’ music served as the musical backdrop for his songs.

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