The program for this evening is not new. You've seen it thru and thru. Your birth, your life, and death. You might recall all of the rest. (Did you have a good life when you died?) Enough to base a movie on' (The Doors)? Jim Morrison's life was plenty to base a movie on, along with multiple books and magazine articles. His life was a complex mixture of in-depth poetry, sexual drive, and excessive drinking. The excitement and adventure of his life and the mystery of his death will keep him a legend forever.
James Douglas Morrison was born December 8, 1943 in Clearwater, Florida. His father, Admiral George Steven Morrison, was a high ranking Navy officer, therefore he was not home often. This left Jim's mother, Clara, to raise him. When Jim was three his mother gave birth to his sister Anne. In 1946 they moved to Washington DC for six months and then to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a year, according to Irwin Stambler, author of The Encyclopedia of Pop Rock and Soul. In 1947, when Jim was four, the Morrison family was driving through a desert in New Mexico when they came upon a car wreck.
'The first time I discovered death,' said Morrison, 'me, my mother and father, and grandmother and grandfather, were driving through the desert at dawn. A truckload of Indians had either hit another car or something ' there were Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death. So we pulled the car up'I don't remember ever seeing a movie, and suddenly, there were all these redskins, and they were lying all over the road bleeding to death. I was just a kid, so I had to stay in the car while my father and grandfather went back to check it out'I didn't see nothing ' all I saw was funny red paint and people lying around, but I knew something was happening, because I could dig the vibrations of the people around me 'cause they're my parents and all, and all of a sudden I realized that they didn't know what was happening more than I did. That was the first time I tasted fear'and I do think, at that moment, the souls or ghosts of those dead Indians ' maybe one or two of 'em ' were just running around freaking out, and just landed in my soul, and I was like a sponge, ready to just sit there and absorb it'it's not a ghost story, it's something that really means something to me.' Quote by Jim Morrison in Dylan Jones' book Dark Star.
This impacted Jim's life greatly. Afterwards he thought the Indian caused him to do everything that he did wrong.
In 1948 they moved to Los Attos, California for the next two years (Jones 27-30). It was there that Andy was born, when Jim was six. Then they moved back to Albuquerque for two years. Jim strived for attention. He often taunted Anne and Andy. He was a good student but usually stayed in trouble for his outlandish behavior. When his IQ was tested, he scored 149, which is considered to be a genius, says James Riordan and Jerry Prockinicky in their book Break On Through: The Life and Times of Jim Morrison. In December 1958 they moved back to Washington DC. Jim attended George Washington High School. He often told his girlfriends what to do and was very jealous. They stayed with him because he was so sweet. Jim was very rebellious but often did everything possible to get his parent's approval. He and Andy grew very close and together challenged their parent's authority. While in high school Jim was not in any clubs nor did he play sports. All it said under his picture in the yearbook was, 'Honor Roll.' He enjoyed being the center of attention in school.
Throughout high school he kept a journal of what he did that day and any thoughts he had. After graduation he destroyed them. During the evenings he would walk across town to blues clubs. This set the foundation for The Doors' music. Jim enjoyed discussing religion. He was raised in a Catholic home, but thought they were a judgmental and condemning group. In June of 1961 he graduated from George Washington High School. He didn't even go pick up his diploma. His parents felt he should go on to college so they enrolled him in St. Petersburg Junior College without his permission. He returned to Clearwater and lived with his grandparents while he attended school. The next fall he decided to enroll in Florida State University. In the spring of 1964 he took money from a fund his father set up for him when he was young and moved to California. There he attended UCLA. His father disowned him for this. While at UCLA he had to make a film for his final project. After the class watched it someone made a negative comment and Jim said he quit. He still got the degree (Jones 32-51).
By the summer of 1965 Jim was barely eating and was taking excessive amounts of LSD. During the next three months he lost thirty pounds and turned into 'The Prince.' He was so cute no woman was safe. 'Being in bed with Jim was like being in bed with Michelangelo's David, only with blue eyes. His skin was so white, his muscles were so pure, he was so innocent', said Eve Babitz in her March 1991 article in Esquire titled "Jim Morrison Is Dead and Living in Hollywood.' He thought he was ugly but knew how everyone else felt. He was walking along Venice Beach when he met his match, Pam Courson. She had long red hair, freckles, and green eyes. She looked so cute and innocent (Babitz 87-96). He followed her home and waited outside watching her through the window. Later that evening he climbed up a tree to her back deck. They talked for a while then she said he had to leave because it was getting late and her father would be mad. He sneaked into her room after everyone had gone to bed and woke her up. They went out walking along the beach. Jim then took her where he was living at the time, the roof of the Morrison Hotel. There he let her read his poetry. While there her wrote a poem for her that she never forgot. 'She dances in a ring of fire and throws off the challenge with a shrug' (The Doors). Pam wasn't as innocent as she looked. 'She had guns, took heroin, and was fearless in every situation. Socially she didn't care, emotionally she was shock proof' (Babitz 87-96). Her idea of a diet was to go for ten days on a heroin without food. Once, while mad at Jim, she took his favorite vest and wrote 'FAG' on the back of it in black Indian ink. She was said to have gone through Rodeo Drive's Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche muttering 'He owes it to me' over and over while piling her arms higher and higher with clothes (Babitz 87-96).
Rob Burt, author of the book West Coast Story, said that it was in the summer of 1965 that Jim, while on LSD, saw Ray Manzarek, whom he met at UCLA. They were discussing philosophy and poetry when Jim said he had written a few songs. After singing a few lines from one he told Ray he had a whole notebook full of them. Jim Morrison said in a later interview, 'those first five or six songs I wrote, I was just taking notes on a fantastic rock concert going on inside my head. And once I had written the songs I had to sing them', according to Jerry Hopkins' Rolling Stone article 'Jim Morrison'. Ray encouraged Jim to form a band with him. They got Robby Krieger, a bottle ' neck guitarist, and John Densmore, a jazz drummer, and Ray played the organ. Jim decided on the name The Doors after reading a book by William Blake called 'The Doors of Perception.' In it there is a quote he liked, 'There are things that are known and things that are unknown; in between there are doors' (Burt 38-42). The Doors had a unique sound because there was no bass guitar; the music was driven by Ray's organ said Steve Futterman in his 1993 Rolling Stone article 'Class of 93; The Doors'. They began playing at London Fog, a small nightclub on Sunset Strip where they each received five dollars a night during the week and ten on the weekends. They soon moved up to a better paying club, the Whiskey ' A 'Gogo, where they opened for more well known acts (Stambler 188-191). 'Jim knew how to stand from the start. He stood pigeon ' toed, filled with poetry against a mike with that honky ' tonk Berlin organ in the background and sang about 'another kiss'' (Babitz 87-91). They were fired from the Whiskey ' A-Gogo because of the explicit lyrics in 'The End.' That same night Jac Holzman from Electra Records saw them perform and offered them a record deal (Burt 38-42). In January 1967 their self ' titled album was released. It was the highest debuting album in history (Jones 51). 'Their lyrics explored murder and incest in 'The End', drug use and eroticism in 'The Crystal Ship', and violence and rebellion in 'Break on Through', and 'Light My Fire' was full of smoldering passion' writes Michael Uslan author of Dick Clark's First 25 Years of Rock and Roll. Morrison said, 'I'm interested in anything about revolt, disorder, and chaos - especially activity that appears to ...