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Jim Morrison at 60 – Still Dead

Jim Morrison of the Doors would have been 60 today – for some reason that just staggers me. Since he only lived to be 27, he has been dead six years longer than he was alive. 27 just seems preposterously young to me – I have t-shirts older than 27. How hard would you have to try to drink yourself to death by 27? Really, really hard.

Manzarek and Krieger paid a visit to the Lizard King’s grave to commemorate:

    Jim Morrison’s former band mates set a rose and a poem on fire at his grave in Paris on Monday, a tribute to the “Light My Fire” singer on what would have been his 60th birthday.

    “We’re trying to evoke the spirit of Jim,” Robby Krieger, former guitarist for The Doors, told dozens of fans who were kept behind police barriers. Many held white candles and old album covers.

    ….Morrison’s tomb was covered with votive candles, flowers, beer cans, photos and a silvery “Happy Birthday” banner. Security agents patrolled the shady, cobblestoned Pere Lachaise cemetery.

    Manzarek and Krieger lit candles, burned a poem and a rose that fans had left behind, then asked reporters to leave for a moment of silent contemplation. Afterward, security agents escorted them to their red van.

    ….Other notables buried at Pere Lachaise include writers Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust, painter Eugene Delacroix and singer Edith Piaf.

    Morrison’s grave, which has a sober gray headstone marked James Douglas Morrison, attracts the most attention, and a full-time security guard watches over it. That doesn’t prevent Morrison fans from leaving behind graffiti.

    One Morrison fan scrawled on a nearby mausoleum: “This is not the end.” [AP]

Though Morrison was a pretentious, imploding boob, he was also one of the greatest rock singers and lyricists of all time and fronted one of the greatest rock bands ever. You can’t take that away from him.

I looked at The Best of the Doors here:

Jim Morrison was obsessed with the dark side; this obsession contributed to some great music and to his early demise. Jim Morrison’s exploration of the dark side was his excuse for a life of almost incomprehensible dissipation. There is power and beauty in the dark side. The question is: Are the revelations worth the consequences?

If one subscribes to traditional religious values, such as those of the Christian, Jewish or Islamic faiths, the answer is clearly no. The conflicts that bedeviled Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley were conflicts of those steeped in the Christian tradition, yet drawn to the liberation of the dark side. This conflict killed Elvis and drove Little Richard and Jerry Lee to drastic artistic and personality flip-flops.

Jim Morrison renounced the strictures of religious morality entirely. Not that Morrison didn’t have conflicts: a person who drinks himself to death at age 27 is running from more than the confines of Christian ethics. But Morrison was an artist and he took his exploration of the forbidden seriously. This is evident from the pretention of his most ambitious projects, including poems like “The Celebration of the Lizard.”

Morrison’s poetic sorties were not successful because they were not conducted in his primary voice of artistic expression: the rock ‘n’ roll song. Morrison’s soulmates Baudelaire and Rimbaud were steeped in the poetic tradition, and expression in it came naturally to them. Morrison’s poetic expressions sound amateurish, stunted, stilted and self-parodic in comparison with his song lyrics. Morrison played at poetry, but he expressed himself through his music…..

And the band’s classic first album here:

    By 1965 Johnny Rivers and the Byrds had put Hollywood’s Sunset Strip and clubs like the Whiskey-a-Go-Go and Ciro’s on the map. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek and singer/songwriter Jim Morrison had met in film school at UCLA and decided to form a band together. In the best ’60s tradition, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore were in Manzarek’s meditation class, and when they all got together, it clicked.

    Elektra scout/producer Paul Rothchild saw the band live at the Whiskey in July, 1966 and was astonished – so much so that he wanted to create a studio album that was an “aural documentary” of their live set. Manzarek’s inventive organ dominated the live sound, complemented well by Krieger’s blues riffs, jazzy runs, and Spanish finger picking on guitar, and Densmore’s fluid, interpretive drumming. Morrison was the focal point, his commanding baritone grabbing the ear while his erratic antics and arresting good looks captured the eye.

    Rothchild’s most enduring achievement is capturing that sound in the studio. Rothchild’s first sessions at Sunset Sound for The Doors went well – the band was well prepared by a year’s worth of nightly gigs – and several songs were recorded in only two or three takes. But that was not to last as they prepared to record “The End.”

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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