Jim Morrison is such an iconic character, who has become part of the collective imagination as a cursed rock star, to make us think we know everything about him, but is it really so?
Today, July 3, on the anniversary of his death, we are pleased to tell you some anecdotes and curiosities, along with the story of his life.
Jim Morrison – Childhood and teenage years
James Douglas Morrison was born on December 8, 1943 in Melbourne, a Florida town.
His father was a naval officer who moved from base to base. Jim settled with his family in Alexandria, Virginia, where he went to school. He attended St. Petersburg Junior College and then Florida State University.
At school Jim Morrison was a genius, full of curiosity and with a huge talent linked to the use of language, which came in handy in his professional future. It is his family members who tell it, here is the video:
In 1964 Jim Morrison made his way to the West coast. Two years later, in 1966, he began attending film lessons at UCLA, where he met his destiny: it is there that Morrison found Ray Manzarek.
In an interview with Jerry Hopkins on 26 July 1969, as it appears in the volume Rolling Stone – Great Interviews, Jim Morrison recounts his interest in cinema (never completely abandoned).
“I am interested in cinema because in my opinion it is the closest approximation that there is in art to a true flow of consciousness, both as regards the life of dreams and for the daily perception of the world”
While Morrison and Manzarek accidentally knew each other as study companions, one day they met by chance, on a beach in Venice, California. Manzarek, keyboard player, along with Morrison, guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore, decided to form their rock band to put their words into music.
The Doors were born. A curiosity to you. Where does this name come from? The name The Doors is inspired by a quote from the 19th century English poet William Blake (1757–1827): “If the doors of perception were cleaned up, everything would seem as it is, infinite“. As Morrison said, “there are known things and unknown things and in the middle are the Doors”.
The Doors hold numerous concerts at Whiskey-a-Go-Go on the Hollywood Sunset Strip. In 1967 Patti Smith also sees one, and tells in her book Just Kids how this event influenced her awareness as a performer. This episode, and another even more fun is told by Patti herself in this interview: PATTI SMITH ON JIM MORRISON!
All these public events allowed The Doors to develop their presence on the stage, which eventually attracted the attention of talent scouts in search of new record sensations. And the sensation came with Jim Morrison, who sang in a hoarse baritone, wore tight pants and went even further by incorporating Elvis Presley sexually suggestive movements in his performances on stage. With lyrics like “Come on baby, light my fire,” Morrison drove hordes of women crazy.
Here’s a curiosity: all these nights and meetings with groupies were permitted by Morrison’s girlfriend, Pamela Courson … it is called free love for something, right? For Morrison There are also some famous meetings, including with colleagues Janis Joplin, Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and the fascinating Nico.
To you the story of the encounter between the latter and today’s protagonist, a truly curious and very interesting anecdote.
Jim Morrison and Nico
Danny Fields, a regular at the Factory and a collaborator of The Doors, presents Nico from The Velvet Underground to Jim Morrison because he thought they could form a beautiful couple.
When introduced, Nico and Jim Morrison seemed to ignore each other: they stayed in two distant points of the room staring at the floor. Then the people present remember them engaged in a kind of ritual / shamanic fight, in which Jim Morrison at one point drags Nico by the hair. Nico escapes to Fields’ room: “Daanny? I think he wants to kill me. “
At that point Jim undresses and walks naked on a ledge, while Nico stands inside the fountain where he had tried to drown her and cries. “This was the first day of their history.” They will be together for a scarce month, between July and August 1967.
In 1985 Nico commented: “We beat each other because we were drunk and we liked the feeling.” Morrison, in the period in which they know each other, is transforming to become the Lizard King: he has hollow cheeks and leather pants. Not even 25 years old, Morrison is in his full experimental phase: abuse of alcohol, drugs and has the habit of publicly slapping the girls who accompany him.
How their relationship was
With Nico, the relationship is apparently better. They become friends, love each other dearly and exchange blood during a trip to the desert so much that in 1986 in an interview with an Australian radio, Nico will remember Jim like this: “He was my blood brother”. They often go to the desert together, where they get visions with peyote.
In fact, Nico said that Jim Morrison was the first man she really fell in love with. She dyes her hair red because I’m a personal Morrison fetish. She wanted to marry him and have a son with him. In a way, she had it, because it was Jim Morrison who pushed her to write her own songs, as she will tell later in various interviews. “He inspired me a lot. Confronting Jim was like looking at a mirror.” This is how, between 1968 and 1969, Nico separated from the Velvet Underground and gave birth to that masterpiece which is The Marble Index.
After Jim’s death, Nico will record a historic cover of The Doors: This is the End with Brian Eno. The song will accompany Nico in all his concerts. Nico also wrote an album entitled THE END. The End was the obsession that shared both Jim and Nico, in life and in their works.
Jim Morrison and The Doors
After the release of their first album, The Doors, the group returned to the studio and created Strange Days, both of which were released in 1967. Other albums included Waiting for the Sun (1968), The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970) , Absolutely Live (1970) and LA Woman (1971). Morrison, interested in Native American traditions and images of American deserts, called himself “Lizard King” and wrote several songs, including “Celebration of the Lizard”, in reference to his reptilian alter ego (another aspect of personality).
Captured by a wave of popularity, the young band found themselves transported to a new world, where drugs, alcohol and sex played an important role. Morrison, whose celebrity status had started almost overnight, found it difficult to manage change. If you remember we have already told a similar story, that of Kurt Cobain, whom we will soon find in another trivia.
The last years
On March 1, 1969, Morrison and The Doors were to perform at the Dinner Key Auditorium in the state of Florida. During the band’s performance in front of thousands and thousands of screaming spectators, Morrison briefly exposed himself to the public. Nothing was done until pressure from disgusted Miami area residents forced local police to issue an arrest warrant for Morrison. The singer, who had been on vacation out of the country, turned himself in to the FBI and returned to Miami, where he was tried on August 12, 1970.
Found guilty of obscene acts and drunkenness, Morrison is sentenced to six months of forced labor, although the sentence is postponed while his lawyer appeals. After the Miami trial, Morrison’s life became more chaotic, his relationships with the band members more strained. Trying to recover his sense of himself, he returns to the poetry he had loved as a university student. In 1970 he published his first verse book, The Lords [and] The New Creatures, which had been privately printed the year before.
Jim Morrison’s death was kept secret until after the funeral to prevent crowds of saddened fans from attending en masse.Jim sadly joined the J27 Club. As we know, the list is long, it includes artists who died at just 27 years old and whose name begins with J. Besides Jim Morrison, this club includes others we have talked about, such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin e Kurt Cobain (even if the name of the latter does not begin with J) .
It is a pity that the beautiful bust that the sculptor Mikulin had placed in 1981 was vandalized and finally stolen.
Love me two times, sang Jim. Those who had the good fortune to meet him in life loved him then, his posterity makes us love him even today.