Jim Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971)

Jim Morrison Portrait

Jim Morrison, Photo Text Portrait: December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971. Textportrait Jim Morrison by Ralph Ueltzhoeffer 2013, 2013 March 14. Biography Text (2013 March 14, 2011 by Wikipedia.org). Text: Jim Morrison – Jim Morrison, James Douglas “Jim” Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) was an American singer-songwriter and poet, best remembered as the lead singer of Los Angeles rock band The Doors. [1] Following The Doors’ explosive rise to fame in 1967, Morrison developed an alcohol dependency which led to his death at the age of 27 in Paris. He is alleged to have died of a heroin overdose, but as no autopsy was performed, the exact cause of his death is still disputed, as well as rumors floating of him faking his own death to escape the pressures of fame.[2] Morrison was well known for often improvising spoken word poetry passages while the band played live. Due to his wild personality and performances, he is regarded by critics and fans as one of the most iconic, charismatic and pioneering frontmen in rock music history.[3] Morrison was ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”,[4] and number 22 on Classic Rock Magazine’s “50 Greatest Singers In Rock”.[5] Early years James Douglas Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida, the son of Clara Virginia (née Clarke) and future Rear Admiral George Stephen Morrison.[6] Morrison had a sister, Anne Robin, who was born in 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and a brother, Andrew Lee Morrison, who was born in 1948 in Los Altos, California. His ancestry included English, Scottish, and Irish.[7][8] In 1947, Morrison, then four years old, allegedly witnessed a car accident in the desert, in which a family of Native Americans were injured and possibly killed. He referred to this incident in a spoken word performance on the song “Dawn’s Highway” from the album An American Prayer, and again in the songs “Peace Frog” and “Ghost Song”. Morrison believed this incident to be the most formative event of his life,[9] and made repeated references to it in the imagery in his songs, poems, and interviews. His family does not recall this incident happening in the way he told it. According to the Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, Morrison’s family did drive past a car accident on an Indian reservation when he was a child, and he was very upset by it. The book The Doors, written by the remaining members of The Doors, explains how different Morrison’s account of the incident was from that of his father. This book quotes his father as saying, “We went by several Indians. It did make an impression on him [the young James]. He always thought about that crying Indian.” This is contrasted sharply with Morrison’s tale of “Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death.” In the same book, his sister is quoted as saying, “He enjoyed telling that story and exaggerating it. He said he saw a dead Indian by the side of the road, and I don’t even know if that’s true.”[citation needed] With his father in the United States Navy, Morrison’s family moved often. He spent part of his childhood in San Diego. While his father was stationed at NAS Kingsville, he attended Flato Elementary in Kingsville, Texas.[citation needed] In 1958, Morrison attended Alameda High School in Alameda, California. He graduated from George Washington High School (now George Washington Middle School) in Alexandria, Virginia in June 1961.[citation needed] His father was also stationed at Mayport Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida.[citation needed] Morrison was inspired by the writings of philosophers and poets. He was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, whose views on aesthetics, morality, and the Apollonian and Dionysian duality would appear in his conversation, poetry and songs.[citation needed] He read Plutarch’s “Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans”. He read the works of the French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose style would later influence the form of Morrison’s short prose poems.[citation needed] He was influenced by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Baudelaire, Molière, and Franz Kafka.[citation needed] Honoré de Balzac and Jean Cocteau, along with most of the French existentialist philosophers.[citation needed] His senior-year English teacher said, “Jim read as much and probably more than any student in class, but everything he read was so offbeat I had another teacher, who was going to the Library of Congress, check to see if the books Jim was reporting on actually existed. I suspected he was making them up, as they were English books on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century demonology. I’d never heard of them, but they existed, and I’m convinced from the paper he wrote that he read them, and the Library of Congress would’ve been the only source.”[10] Morrison went to live with his paternal grandparents in Clearwater, Florida, where he attended classes at St. Petersburg College (then known as a junior college). In 1962, he transferred to Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, where he appeared in a school recruitment film.[11] While attending FSU, Morrison was arrested for a prank, following a home football game.[12] Morrison was arrested in Tallahassee after pulling a prank while drunk at a football game In January 1964, Morrison moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He enrolled in Jack Hirschman’s class on Antonin Artaud in the Comparative Literature program within the UCLA English Department. Artaud’s brand of surrealist theatre had a profound impact on Morrison’s dark poetic sensibility of cinematic theatricality.[citation needed] Morrison completed his undergraduate degree at UCLA’s film school within the Theater Arts department of the College of Fine Arts in 1965. He never went to the graduation ceremony, instead having his degree diploma mailed to him.[citation needed] He made several short films while attending UCLA. First Love, the first of these films, made with Morrison’s classmate and roommate Max Schwartz, was released to the public when it appeared in a documentary about the film Obscura. During these years, while living in Venice Beach, he became friends with writers at the Los Angeles Free Press. Morrison was an advocate of the underground newspaper until his death in 1971. He later conducted a lengthy and in-depth interview with Bob Chorush and Andy Kent, both working for the Free Press at the time (January 1971), and was planning on visiting the headquarters of the busy newspaper shortly before leaving for Paris.[13] The Doors Main article: The Doors In the summer of 1965, after graduating with a degree from the UCLA film school, Morrison led a bohemian lifestyle in Venice Beach. Living on the rooftop of a building inhabited by his old UCLA cinematography friend, Dennis Jakobs, he wrote the lyrics of many of the early songs the Doors would later perform live and record on albums, the most notable being “Moonlight Drive” and “Hello, I Love You”.[citation needed] According to Jakobs, he lived on canned beans and LSD for several months.[citation needed] Morrison and fellow UCLA student, Ray Manzarek, were the first two members of the Doors, forming the group during that same summer of 1965. They had previously met months earlier as fellow cinematography students. The now-legendary story claims that Manzarek was lying on the beach at Venice one day, where he accidentally encountered Morrison.[citation needed] He was impressed with Morrison’s poetic lyrics, claiming that they were “rock group” material. Subsequently, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger joined. Krieger auditioned at Densmore’s recommendation and was then added to the lineup. All three musicians shared a common interest in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s meditation practices at the time, attending scheduled classes, but Morrison was not involved in this series of classes, claiming later that he “did not meditate”.[citation needed] Promotional photo of the Doors in late 1966 The Doors took their name from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception (a reference to the unlocking of doors of perception through psychedelic drug use). Huxley’s own title was a quotation from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which Blake wrote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” Although Morrison was known as the lyricist of the group, Krieger also made significant lyrical contributions, writing or co-writing some of the group’s biggest hits, including “Light My Fire”, “Love Me Two Times”, “Love Her Madly”, and “Touch Me”.[14] On the other hand, Morrison, who didn’t write most songs using an instrument, would come up with vocal melodies for his own lyrics, with the other band members contributing chords and rhythm nor did he play an instrument live (except for maracas and tambourine for most shows, and harmonica on a few occasions) or in the studio (excluding maracas, tambourine, handclaps, and whistling). However, he did play the grand piano on “Orange County Suite” and a Moog synthesizer on “Strange Days”. In June 1966, Morrison and the Doors were the opening act at the Whisky a Go Go on the last week of the residency of Van Morrison’s band Them.[15] Van’s influence on Jim’s developing stage performance was later noted by John Densmore in his book Riders On The Storm: “Jim Morrison learned quickly from his near-namesake’s stagecraft, his apparent recklessness, his air of subdued menace, the way he would improvise poetry to a rock beat, even his habit of crouching down by the bass drum during instrumental breaks.”[16] On the final night, the two Morrisons and their two bands jammed together on “Gloria”.[17][18][19] Jim Morrison performing in Copenhagen in September 1968 The Doors achieved national recognition after signing with Elektra Records in 1967.[20] The single “Light My Fire” spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July/August 1967.[21] Later, the Doors appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a popular Sunday night variety series that had introduced the Beatles and Elvis Presley to the United States. Ed Sullivan requested two songs from the Doors for the show, “People Are Strange” and “Light My Fire”. Sullivan’s censors insisted that the Doors change the lyrics of the song “Light My Fire” from “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” to “Girl we couldn’t get much better” for the television viewers; this was reportedly due to what was perceived as a reference to drugs in the original lyrics. After giving assurances of compliance to the producer in the dressing room, Morrison told the band “we’re not changing a word” and proceeded to sing the song with the original lyrics. Sullivan was not happy and he refused to shake hands with Morrison or any other band member after their performance. He had a show producer tell the band that they will never do The Ed Sullivan Show again. Morrison reportedly said to the producer, in a defiant tone, “Hey man. We just did the Sullivan Show!”[22] In 1967, Morrison and the Doors produced a promotional film for “Break on Through (To the Other Side)”, which was their first single release. The video featured the four members of the group playing the song on a darkened set with alternating views and close-ups of the performers while Morrison lip-synched the lyrics. Morrison and the Doors continued to make music videos, including “The Unknown Soldier”, “Moonlight Drive”, and “People Are Strange”. By the release of their second album, Strange Days, the Doors had become one of the most popular rock bands in the United States. Their blend of blues and dark rock tinged with psychedelia included a number of original songs and distinctive cover versions, such as their rendition of “Alabama Song”, from Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The band also performed a number of extended concept works, including the songs “The End”, “When the Music’s Over”, and “Celebration of the Lizard”. In 1967, photographer Joel Brodsky took a series of black-and-white photos of Morrison, in a photo shoot known as “The Young Lion” photo session. These photographs are considered among the most iconic images of Jim Morrison and are frequently used as covers for compilation albums, books, and other memorabilia of the Doors and Morrison.[23][24] In 1968, the Doors released their third studio album, Waiting for the Sun. Their fourth album, The Soft Parade, was released in 1969. It was the first album where the individual band members were given credit on the inner sleeve for the songs they had written. Previously, each song on their albums had been credited simply to “The Doors”. On September 6 and 7, 1968, the Doors played four performances at The Roundhouse, London, England with Jefferson Airplane which were filmed by Granada for a television documentary “The Doors are Open” directed by John Sheppard. Around this time, Morrison—who had long been a heavy drinker—started showing up for recording sessions visibly inebriated.[citation needed] He was also frequently late for live performances. As a result, the band would play instrumental music or force Manzarek to take on the singing duties to subdue the impatient audience. Performing with The Doors, 1967 By 1969, the formerly svelte singer had gained weight, grown a beard and mustache, and had begun dressing more casually—abandoning the leather pants and concho belts for slacks, jeans and T-shirts. During a March 1, 1969 concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, Morrison attempted to spark a riot in the audience. He failed, but a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Dade County Police department three days later for indecent exposure. Consequently, many of The Doors’ scheduled concerts were canceled.[25][26] In 2007 Florida Governor Charlie Crist suggested the possibility of a posthumous pardon for Morrison, which was announced as successful on December 9, 2010.[27][28] Drummer John Densmore denied Morrison ever exposed himself on stage that night.[29] Following The Soft Parade, The Doors released Morrison Hotel. After a lengthy break the group reconvened in October 1970 to record what would become their final album with Morrison, entitled L.A. Woman. Shortly after the recording sessions for the album began, producer Paul A. Rothchild—who had overseen all of their previous recordings—left the project. Engineer Bruce Botnick took over as producer. Poetry and film Morrison began writing in earnest during his adolescence. At UCLA he studied the related fields of theater, film, and cinematography.[30] He self-published two separate volumes of his poetry in 1969, entitled The Lords / Notes on Vision and The New Creatures. The Lords consists primarily of brief descriptions of places, people, events and Morrison’s thoughts on cinema. The New Creatures verses are more poetic in structure, feel and appearance. These two books were later combined into a single volume titled The Lords and The New Creatures. These were the only writings published during Morrison’s lifetime. Morrison befriended Beat poet Michael McClure, who wrote the afterword for Danny Sugerman’s biography of Morrison, No One Here Gets Out Alive. McClure and Morrison reportedly collaborated on a number of unmade film projects, including a film version of McClure’s infamous play The Beard, in which Morrison would have played Billy the Kid.[31] After his death, a further two volumes of Morrison’s poetry were published. The contents of the books were selected and arranged by Morrison’s friend, photographer Frank Lisciandro, and girlfriend Pamela Courson’s parents, who owned the rights to his poetry. The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison Volume I is entitled Wilderness, and, upon its release in 1988, became an instant New York Times Bestseller. Volume II, The American Night, released in 1990, was also a success. Morrison recorded his own poetry in a professional sound studio on two separate occasions. The first was in March 1969 in Los Angeles and the second was on December 8, 1970. The latter recording session was attended by Morrison’s personal friends and included a variety of sketch pieces. Some of the segments from the 1969 session were issued on the bootleg album The Lost Paris Tapes and were later used as part of the Doors’ An American Prayer album,[32] released in 1978. The album reached No. 54 on the music charts. Some poetry recorded from the December 1970 session remains unreleased to this day and is in the possession of the Courson family. Morrison’s best-known but seldom seen cinematic endeavor is HWY: An American Pastoral, a project he started in 1969. Morrison financed the venture and formed his own production company in order to maintain complete control of the project. Paul Ferrara, Frank Lisciandro and Babe Hill assisted with the project. Morrison played the main character, a hitchhiker turned killer/car thief. Morrison asked his friend, composer/pianist Fred Myrow, to select the soundtrack for the film.[33] Personal life Morrison’s family Morrison and his father on the bridge of the USS Bon Homme Richard in January, 1964 Morrison’s early life was a nomadic existence typical of military families.[34] Jerry Hopkins recorded Morrison’s brother, Andy, explaining that his parents had determined never to use physical corporal punishment such as spanking on their children. They instead instilled discipline and levied punishment by the military tradition known as dressing down. This consisted of yelling at and berating the children until they were reduced to tears and acknowledged their failings. Once Morrison graduated from UCLA, he broke off most contact with his family. By the time Morrison’s music ascended to the top of the charts (in 1967) he had not been in communication with his family for more than a year and falsely claimed that his parents and siblings were dead (or claiming, as it has been widely misreported, that he was an only child). This misinformation was published as part of the materials distributed with The Doors’ self-titled debut album. George Morrison was not supportive of his son’s career choice in music. One day, an acquaintance brought over a record thought to have Jim on the cover. The record was the Doors self-titled debut. The young man played the record for Morrison’s father and family. Upon hearing the record, Morrison’s father wrote him a letter telling him “to give up any idea of singing or any connection with a music group because of what I consider to be a complete lack of talent in this direction.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s