“I see myself as a huge fiery comet, a shooting star. Everyone stops, points up and gasps, “Oh look at that!” Then- whoosh, and I’m gone…and they’ll never see anything like it ever again… and they won’t be able to forget me- ever.” Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison certainly had a clear vision of his life. He was born December 08, 1943, and passed away July 03, 1971. For those who may not know he was a singer, songwriter, philosopher, and poet. He is most famous for his work with the musical group The Doors. I have traveled the world, and, no matter what language, if I sing a few verses of “Light My Fire”, everyone knows that song, and they always smile.
He did not play any musical instruments, but he heard all of his songs in his head. Then he would hum the tune to the other musicians in The Doors, and they would compose what he heard in his head.
At the young age of 21, Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek formed the group The Doors. Within one year they had a recording contract and shot to the top of the rock and roll world with the song “Light My Fire” in the summer of 1967. From there everything they recorded was always on top of the rock and roll charts.
Jim never sought fame and always considered himself first and foremost a poet. As the money came pouring in, the rest of the group started buying fancy cars and houses. Jim did not care about material possessions. He lived very simply. All he usually had with him was his clothes and books. He was an avid reader and never was without a book in his hand. He lived in $10.00 a night motels. He tried to have a car, but every car he ever had he ended up wrecking. He finally gave up on cars.
He wrote four poetry books and paid to have them published. The thing he was most proud of was his books.
Jim was the first rock star to ever be arrested on stage during a performance. This happened December 9, 1967 in New Haven, Connecticut. He was booked on charges of indecency, public obscenity, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Before the concert Jim was backstage making out with a girl. A police officer spotted them and said they had to leave. Jim told the officer he was in the band. The cop got pushy with Jim. Jim tried to push him away and then the cop maced him. .
Jim still went on stage and performed the concert. During the last song Jim started to tell the crowd about what happened backstage. The cops shut the music down and came directly onstage to arrest him. From that time onward the police were always looking for an excuse to come after Jim.
Unfortunately his fame could not be contained and it took over his life. He enjoyed many of the perks, but did not like losing his privacy, and found ways to get lost in the crowd. He was an alcoholic and drank mass amounts of whiskey a day. No one could control him, and things went down hill when he was accused of exposing his penis in front of an audience at a rock concert in Miami Florida. He was arrested and faced Federal prison time for lewd lascivious behavior, two misdemeanors for public profanity, two for public exposure and one for public drunkenness. No one could prove that he did such a thing, and, considering how many photographs were being taken nonstop at the concert, it is highly unlikely that it happened because there is no proof.
Because he was so famous and considered a hippie, the courts were going to let him have it full on. For that reason he decided to take a break from everything and go to Paris to see if he could lose his identity. The pressure of facing prison time was more than he could handle. He found no matter where he went he was known. It must have seemed like there was no escaping for him.
The official cause of his death in Paris is from a heart attack. No one knows for sure, but the bottom line is he did die at a young age having changed the face of rock and roll. He has never been forgotten. In fact his fame has grown, and he is considered a rock legend. His estate brings in millions of dollars a year. Every year young people discover the work of Jim Morrison and become fans. Just like he said no one would ever forget him and that was very prophetic.
I saw The Doors perform at the Los Angeles Forum in 1968 at the height of their fame. I had always liked their music, but I was not a big fan of Jim Morrison. At this particular concert he set on the edge of the stage and read poetry for 45 minutes. I was sitting in the floor section right in front of the stage and people kept lighting sparklers and matches and sending them flying at the stage screaming, “Sing Light My Fire.” I had to keep covering my head to keep from getting burned. Finally the group did play Light My Fire and afterwards left the stage. Having lived in Los Angeles and seen every major group like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and many more, I considered it the worst concert I had ever seen.
I continued to buy every album The Doors made. The songs were powerful, and I really enjoyed their music. I knew I would never waste my time going to see another one of their concerts.
I was in Santa Monica, which is right next to Venice California and one of Jim’s favorite cities, when I heard that he had died. It was sunset, and, as I watched the sun go down at the ocean, I kept thinking about what a terrible waste and it had only been a few months since Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin had died at the age of 27. Ironically, Jim died on the same date as Brian Jones, of The Rolling Stones, who had died in 1969. Jim wrote a poem for Brian Jones right after his death called, “Thinking of Brian Jones While Sitting in Los Angeles.”
Jim Morrison lived his life as a free spirit and chose not to be tied down to the conventions of the day. He was a loner and his idea of what a good place to go to relax was a topless bar next to the office of The Doors or his favorite hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in Venice California. He never had an entourage nor did he have security. He walked the streets of Venice and Hollywood freely. He proved you could be a superstar and still live in whatever way you wanted.
His being free is what disturbed so many people including the law and the government. The powers that be do not like when someone shows them what true freedom is.
I cannot imagine any current musical artist choosing this type of life. This is what sets Jim Morrison apart from so many of the others. It is sad that the music world today is nothing more than just commercialism. I am thankful that I was around in the 60’s to see some of the greatest creative artists express themselves freely. It was a wonderful time to be alive.
I am glad Jim Morrison shared his talent with the world. He will never be forgotten.
I will leave you with this final thought from Jim Morrison.
“I like people who shake other people up and make them feel uncomfortable.”
Thank you Jim for all you left us,