He is often referred to as the “electric poet” for his tantalizing words and mesmerizing music, and was called the “Lizard King” for his deep obsession for all creatures of nature. His name is James Douglas Morrison. Jim Morrison is one of the most influential artists in history. His life brought inspiration to many young people’s lives, and his death continues to weave us into the mysteries that he left behind for us to break through. One certain mystery happened the night his soul passed on. No one really knows what happened to Jim that made him leave the world that night.
There are rumors of death from natural causes, a heroin overdose, or even that he is still alive and well keeping the rest of his life a secret to us all. To better understand Jim Morrison himself, a background of his life and especially his character is necessary. James Douglas Morrison was born on December 8, 1943, in Melbourne, Florida. He was the first child of George Stephen Morrison and Clara Clark Morrison. He had two younger siblings, Anne and Andrew. His father was an officer in the United States Navy and his mother remained a housewife to act as the “dominant parent” over the three kids. After graduating from Florida State University, he attended film school at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1964, where he met Ray Manzarek. A year later, the two form a band called The Doors with Robbie Krieger and John Densmore after Jim reveals to Ray some songs that he had written.
Jim Morrison was on vocals, Ray Manzarek on organ, Robbie Krieger on guitar, and John Densmore on the drums. The Doors became a very successful band, recording fourteen albums altogether, not including bootleg recordings. In 1971, the four Doors break up after Jim decides to move to Paris to pursue a writing career. Jim Morrison was intelligent, intimidating, sensitive, wild, just about everything a person could be rolled into one. In a publicity bio recorded by Elektra, Jim said, ” I’ve always been attracted to ideas that were about revolt against authority when you make your peace with authority, you become an authority. I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order.
I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, and chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning.” Jim had a “fascination with authority and a devotion to its overthrow”. It was almost like he knew his destiny, when his life was going to make a turn and how it was going to happen. He once told a reporter, “You could say I was ideally suited for the work I’m doing. It’s the feeling of a bow string being pulled back for twenty-two years and suddenly let go”. He was the perfect example of a one- of-a-kind character with a unique soul.
Unfortunately, that soul had a time to pass and that time was July 3, 1971, when Jim was at the age of twenty- seven. Jim had moved to Paris in that previous March to reside with his on- and-off girlfriend, Pamela Courson. He wished to be recognized for his words as a poet, not as a rock singer. The “proper” story of his death starts out at Pam and Jim’s Paris apartment. It is Saturday, July 3, in the hours of the early morning.
Jim vomited a small amount of blood. Because this had happened before, Pam was not really worried. After Jim said he felt okay, he went to take a bath while Pam went to bed. At around five o’clock in the morning, she woke up to find that Jim was not lying beside her. She went into the bathroom to find Jim, still in the tub with his head laid back and his arms resting along the sides. He seemed to have had a “boyish smile” upon his face. This caused Pam to think that it was just another one of Jim’s crazy stunts, but realizing that he was not kidding around, she phoned the police and fire department. According to Pam, they all had come too late to save Jim’s life. There are a many people who do not believe this story. The first published cause of his death is said to be heart failure or death of natural causes.
Police had first listed a heart attack as the cause of Jim’s death, and The LA Times wrote an article saying that Jim had died of a “heart ailment”. The medical examiner, Dr. Max Vasille, is the doctor that released the cause of Jim’s death. His report says, I note that the body does not show, apart from the lividness of death, any suspicious signs of trauma or lesions of any kind. A little blood around the nostrils. The history of Mr. Morrison’s condition, such as it was described to us by a friend on the premises, can be summed up thus: Mr. Morrison had been complaining for a few weeks of pericardial pains with dyspnoea.
It was evidently coronary problems, possibly aggravated by abusive drinking. One can imagine that on the occasion of a change of outside temperature followed by a bath, these troubles were suddenly aggravated, leading to classical myocardial infarction, causing sudden death. I conclude from my examination that death was caused by heart failure. Most Morrison fans do not believe this allegation, however.
Two main factors cause disbelief among people: the time it took for people to find out about the death and the fact that no one, besides anyone originally in France, saw his body. It took a full six days after Jim had died for the story to come out to the media. It was kept a secret so well that Jim’s manager, Bill Siddons, did not receive even a rumor about it until two days after the death actually took place. These two conditions gave rise to the rumors that heart failure was not the actual cause of Jim’s death. Another presumed purpose for Jim’s demise is that he overdosed on heroin. While living in Paris, Jim and Pam had been “regulars” at a club called Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus.
This club was known as a “haven for the local heroin underground. He always bought heroin for Pam because he thought it was the “man’s job”. Also, the fact that Jim was found dead in the bathtub suggests an overdose, too. This is usually the first place an overdose victim is taken for attempted resuscitation.
Although many of Jim’s friends say that Jim was terrified of hypodermic needles, there is a possibility that Jim sniffed the heroin. According to Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, “the amount of inhaled heroin that is lethal is considerably less when combined with alcohol.” A drug that Jim had been continuously abusive with and also “the two act in concert to still the central nervous system and respiratory systems, resulting in a quick painless death”. A painless death may also explain the smile that was upon his face he did not even expect his death coming. Linda Ashcroft, another one of Jim’s girlfriends, apparently is one of the only people who Pam ever told the whole truth to. Ashcroft says that when she met up with Pam after Jim’s death, Pam confessed to persuading Jim that the heroin was only cocaine, a drug that Pam knew Jim had taken before. Dr.
John P. Morgan reviewed this case in 1992 and said that he does not see any indication of a heart attack and that all the signs point to a heroin overdose. The last, important factor in suggesting that the cause of death was an overdose is the fact that the police statements of Pam and Alain Ronay, a friend, do not coincide. For example, Pam says that the firemen are called after Ronay arrives at the apartment, while Ronay says that the firemen were already at the building when he arrived there. There is much reasonable evidence that Jim Morrison died of a heroin overdose.Finally, the last suspicion about Jim and his death is that he is still alive.
According to rumors he is living in North Africa where Arthur Rimbaud, a favorite poet of Jim’s, had disappeared. Jim had also referred to his nickname “Mr. Mojo Risin'” as a contact to the office after he would escape to Africa. Also, according to Steve Harris, Jac Holzman’s assistant recalls Jim asking him what would happen if he had suddenly died without warning. Most of Jim’s former close friends agree that staging his own death is the exact kind of stunt Jim would pull, and he would especially get away with it with Pam’s assistance.
Jim Morrison was definitely in a league of his own. He was a poet, writer, and singer, and he was skillful doing all of those. No one could tell what he was going to do next, who he was going to be next. Everything was left a mystery, even his own death. Over twenty years later, no one knows what truly happened that terrible night in Paris. He is said to have died of either heart failure, a heroin overdose, or not to have died at all. All we can do is wonder and wait for the answers, and maybe even wait for Mr. Mojo Risin’ himself to reveal the truth to us all.