James Douglas Morrison was a poet, lead vocalist and lyricist for the 1960s rock band The Doors. He was born on December 8, 1943 in Melbourne, Florida to Rear Admiral George Morrison and wife Clara. Morrison was known for his on-stage drunken antics, his baritone crooning and his poetic mysticism. He was a self-proclaimed shaman and spoke of the subject often. He was regarded by some as a drunken-egotistical fool; while others deemed him a reincarnation of the Greek god Dionysus and the epitome of rock and roll.
In 1965 while walking along Venice Beach, Jim Morrison stumbled upon fellow UCLA Film School-graduate and acquaintance, Ray Manzarek. It was there a shy Morrison sang to Manzarek the lyrics to Moonlight Drive, and at that point, The Doors were born. John Densmore and Robby Krieger would join Morrison and Manzarek and go on to make rock and roll history. In 1967 the song Light my Fire exploded onto the music charts and remains the band’s biggest hit to date.
Jim Morrison held great interest in poetry and philosophy. He was heavily influenced by the writings of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and enjoyed works by poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He would often be seen toting around books and other literary pieces. Morrison was regarded by many as a high intellect and even a genius. It was his isolated bohemian life style, fueled by the psychedelic drug LSD that empowered much of his creativity.
Morrison’s hard drinking and drug-taking-endeavors produced an enormous amount of friction and uncertainty for the band and its future. While performing in New Haven, Connecticut on December 9, 1967, he was arrested on stage for public obscenity, disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest. Then on March 5, 1969 in Miami, Florida, Morrison was charged with lewd behavior which ultimately triggered a nation-wide ban on The Doors by many US venues.
In March 1971, Jim Morrison chose to put his rock star life on hold and moved to Paris, France with his common-law wife Pamela Courson. There, he could put forth the focus and energy towards his real passion of writing poetry; however, the move turned out to be his last.
Jim Morrison died on July 3, 1971 in Paris, France at the age of twenty-seven. There remains much speculation and mystery regarding his premature death; although Morrison’s death certificate displays heart failure as the reason for his passing. He was buried in the Piere Lachaise Cemetery along with many other famous artists and revolutionaries. Morrison’s gravesite remains the most visited plot throughout the cemetery. Pamela Courson died three years after Morrison in 1974 of an apparent heroin over-dose; she was also twenty-seven.