5 Things You May Not Have Known About Jim Morrison

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

On this date in 1971, Jim Morrison died in Paris, France, leaving behind a remarkable musical legacy for someone who was only 27 years of age. To celebrate his life on the day of his death, we’ve got the official Doors playlist all locked and loaded for your listening enjoyment, but we’ve also put together five things you may not have known about Morrison. Yes, we know, there’s a lot of stuff that you probably already do know, but we gave it our best shot.

1.    He was fascinated by the assassination of JFK.

If Jim wasn’t aware of it, he certainly would’ve found it interesting that the first job of his father, Admiral George S. Morrison, when he took command of the  USS Bon Homme Richard on November 22, 1963 was to tell the crew that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. “Kennedy’s death occupied a dark corner of the Morrison psyche, making frequent appearances in notebooks and later lyrics,” wrote the website Weirdland. “‘Dead president’s corpse in the driver’s car’ is one of the keystone images from both ‘Celebration of the Lizard’ and the song excerpted from this long poem, ‘Not to Touch the Earth.’”

2.    He talked shop with Mick Jagger in a motel room.

In 1968, Jagger wanted to put on a big American rock show, and when agent Tito Burns suggested that he see how The Doors did it, he promptly flew to Los Angeles, showed up at The Doors’ office, and asked to see Morrison, who was at the Alta Cienega Motel. Jagger headed over there, and upon his arrival, he and Morrison chatted for awhile. Mick asked Jim if he mediated before a show. (He didn’t.) Jim asked Mick how Brian Jones was doing (He wasn’t doing well at all.) Mick asked Jim if he knew William S. Burroughs. (He didn’t.) And they talked about how over the top rock shows were. “They laughed together about how everything was overblown,” said Frank Lisciandro, in Stephen Davis’s book Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend. “They had grown up with movie stars and cowboy heroes and everything, and then all of a sudden they were center stage. They were both kind of boyishly bashful about it, and yet in full command. And it was very evident that they had mutual respect for each other’s talent.”

3.    He once jammed with Jimi Hendrix. It did not go well.

The date was either March 6 or March 7, 1968 (the uncertainty apparently due to whether it was before or after midnight), the place was a New York City nightclub called The Scene, and the cast of characters included not only Hendrix and Morrison but also Janis Joplin. According to The Doors Interactive History, “Hendrix is on stage jamming with a group of musicians playing drums, bass, and second guitar.  Jim, during one of the bluesier jams and heavily intoxicated, jumps up on stage and begins to wail some very obscene lyrics.  As the song progresses, Jim doesn't.  He soon collapses on the stage grabs Hendrix by the ankles and then clumsily drags himself away knocking a table of drinks over into Janis's lap!”

4.    He had a close encounter with John Fogerty in Miami.

In Fogerty’s memoir, Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music, the Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman recalled Morrison turning up at a party Fogerty was holding in his suite at the Fontainebleau Hotel. “I remember being in the kitchen there, saying stuff like, ‘Yeah, man, I really think the machine are gonna take over,’ stuff I halfheartedly believe. And Jim’s like, ‘Oh, I don’t feel that way at all. The human spirit will always find a way to continue!’ I’m going, ‘Is this the Jim Morrison I’ve heard about? The guy who sang about killing his dad?’ He was all cheerful. I was the one talking gloom and doom!”

5.    He had a lizard named after him.

Jason Head, a fossil archivist for the University of California-Berkeley spent hours listening to The Doors, so – per a 2013 CNN piece – when he found one of the biggest lizards ever to walk the earth, he decided to celebrate the band’s frontman by naming it the Bearded King Morrison. It’s been about 40 million years since the Lizard King in question walked the earth, but now its name will live on forever.