We were going through some of our old vinyl albums this weekend and came across a clipping that my mother-in-law had stashed in a copy of The Doors’ first LP. It was the Style section’s obituary of Jim Morrison, written by Timothy S. Robinson in July 1971, and it began:
“Jim Morrison, the super bad boy of rock music whose death in Paris last Saturday went unnoticed for four days, exemplified on stage everything most adults found distasteful about rock music and the youth culture.”
So much for “An Appreciation,” eh?
The accompanying photos included Morrison’s high school senior yearbook photo at 17 and shots of him as an Eagle Scout before he graduated from George Washington High School in Alexandria in 1961 and his later, more hirsute self in 1969 as the Lizard King. The writer then spoke to Morrison’s parents, Rear Adm. and Mrs. George S. Morrison, who were living in “a section of $40,000 townhouses” in Arlington.
“ ‘I grew up in a different era,’ said Adm. Morrison. ‘And I didn’t like all of their loud music. But I consider Jim a great writer and I like some of his songs.’
“His mother said she had seen him perform once in the Washington area. ‘We were proud of him,’ Mrs. Morrison added. ... They said that Jim, as a child, had lived with them in Bethesda, Patuxent, Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church.”
To read the full obit, which had the jump head, “A Door Closed, a Fire Gone Out,” continue after the jump. And here’s a famous video of them playing “Touch Me” live on the Smothers Brothers show.
A Fire Gone Out
By Timothy S. Robinson
Jim Morrison, the super bad boy of rock music whose death in Paris last Saturday went unnoticed for four days, exemplified on stage everything most adults found distasteful about rock music and the youth culture.
Morrison and The Doors, the group with which he sang, performed songs about death, violence, and sex. All four Doors wore long hair, played with multiple amplifiers at full volume and drove audiences into frenzies.
But Jim Morrison, the top Door, died a quiet, natural death in a Paris bathtub at the home of his girlfriend. He was 27.
Morrison’s death was announced early yesterday in Los Angeles by his manager, William Siddons, and confirmed by U.S. officials in the French capital. Siddons said Morrison had seen a doctor in Paris last Saturday about a respiratory problem and “complained of this problem on the day of his death.”
Siddons said in Los Angeles that the initial news of the singer’s death was kept secret “to avoid the notoriety and circus-like atmosphere that surrounded the deaths of such other rock personalities as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.” Hendrix died last September in London and Joplin was found dead in a Hollywood motel last October. Both deaths were attributed to drug overdoses.
A Paris police spokesman said Morrison became ill at the apartment he shared with Pamela Courson, 25. “Miss Courson said when Morrison awoke last Saturday, he was not feeling well. He asked her to get a bath ready and then entered the bathroom. Not hearing any noise, Miss Courson then opened the door to find Morrison lying unconscious in the bath,” according to the police statement.
A Paris doctor attributed the death to a heart attack, and Morrison was buried Wednesday in historic Pere Lachaise Cemetery, in private services arranged by Miss Courson and attended by only a few close friends.
Morrison’s parents, Rear Adm. and Mrs. George S. Morrison, live in Arlington. The singer was a 1961 graduate of George Washington High School in Alexandria.
Yesterday afternoon, the Morrisons said they had confirmed the death through embassy officials in Paris. They pointed out that their son had lived a life of his own since the mid-1960s, but said there was no family feud, as had been rumored.
“I grew up in a different era,” said Adm. Morrison. “And I didn’t like all of their loud music. But I consider Jim a great writer and I like some of his songs.”
His mother said she had seen him perform once in the Washington area.
“We were proud of him,” Mrs. Morrison added.
The Morrisons live in a section of $40,000 townhouses near the intersection of Glebe Road and Columbia Pike in South Arlington. They said that Jim, as a child, had lived with them in Bethesda, Patuxent, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church. The father, a career naval officer, is stationed in the Office of Naval Operations here.
The Doors, along with such groups as the Jefferson Airplane, were synonymous with the West Coast brand of rock music that shot to prominence in the summer of 1967.
Ray Manzarek’s shrill organ, the hard drumming of John Densmore and tough guitar of Robby Krieger provided the musical sound that was the Doors.
And a Doors performance was something to behold. Morrison, in his leather outfits, screaming, running around the stage, or swaying hypnotically. He was the ultimate rock/sexual/violent theater. He was America’s answer to Mick Jagger: the Doors, America’s answer to the Rolling Stones. Bad boys, but good superstars.
Morrison was arrested on stage in New Haven, Conn., during a performance there in 1967. In March 1969, he was charged with indecent exposure after a concert in Miami during which witnesses said he exposed himself.
But there was another side to Jim Morrison and his music. Acknowledged as one of the top rock lyricists, Morrison wrote haunting poetry to accompany the hard rock put down by his band.
One Morrison rock poem, “Horse Latitudes,” tells of Spanish galleons headed to the New World and trapped in dead seas. They lightened their loads by tossing dead horses overboard. Still another, “Soft Parade,” begins in an evangelistic scream: “When I was back there in seminary school, there was a person there who put forth the proposition you cannot petition the Lord with prayer.”
In an even louder shout, Morrison ended the chant: “You cannot petition the Lord with prayer.” From there the song wound on to often-changing beats and melodies and sang of snakes, lions, saxophones, and shootouts on Western streets.
Morrison’s parents said the singer was a former Eagle Scout. But recently he gave himself other titles, such as “The Lizard King” and “The King of Orgasmic Rock.”
On the Doors’ third album, “Waiting for the Sun,” Morrison performed ”The Celebration of the Lizard.” While not a poem your high school teacher would analyze, it was Morrison at his height of swaggering sensuality: “Not to touch the earth, not to see the sun; nothing left to do but run, run, run. C’mon, baby, run with me.”
Morrison wasn’t known as a user of heavy narcotics, “but he often drank himself into unconsciousness. In ‘Lizard,’ he spoke of going ‘way back into the brain, ‘where there’s never any pain.’ ”
Overall, the Doors during the Morrison era were a group marked by contrasts. While releasing numerous single records apparently aimed at the high-play AM radio markets, the group’s albums invariably included an 11-minute side geared to Morrison’s flamboyant singing, which ran from uncontrolled shrieks to sensuous whispering.
The single hits were led by “Light My Fire,” a seven-minute song on the group’s first album that was cut down to about 2 1/2 minutes for airplay. The song was a rarity among hard rock numbers, in that it was performed by many other artists in all pop music fields.
But album buyers usually ignored the oft-played radio hits to hear Morrison perform his poetry, such as “The End,” an 11-minute 35-second statement that includes the lines: “Father, I want to kill you. Mother, I want to...” Morrison ended the line with a scream.
The group, which stayed together until Morrison moved to Paris in March to write a book, produced eight albums for Elektra Records in their four years of popularity. No information was available on the group’s future plans.
Morrison was born James Douglas Morrison on Dec. 8, 1943, in Melbourne, Fla. In addition to his parents, he is survived by a brother, Andy, 22, a carpenter in Coronado, Calif., and a sister, Ann Graham, 24, also of Coronado.