The Doors: 'Jim's Death, We Have To Accept That Alcohol Was The Main Culprit'

American rock group The Doors posed in Frankfurt, Germany on September 14, 1968. From left: Jim Morrison (1943-1971), Ray Manzarek (1939-2013), Robby Krieger, and John Densmore. Photo by Gunter Zint/K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redfern/Getty Images.
American rock group The Doors posed in Frankfurt, Germany on September 14, 1968. From left: Jim Morrison (1943-1971), Ray Manzarek (1939-2013), Robby Krieger, and John Densmore. Photo by Gunter Zint/K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redfern/Getty Images.

This article originally appeared in Classic Rock #55.

A crisp March morning in Paris, and Classic Rock is visiting Jim Morrison. His address: 6th Division, 2nd Row, Grave 5. The one-time Doors singer and 60s icon has been buried here at Pere Lachaise cemetery for more than 32 years now. On top of Morrison’s headstone there’s an empty wine bottle and some sunflowers; in the sand covering the grave itself, recent visitors have left roses, poems in Italian and French, and some wrapped sweets. There’s also a full pack of Gitanes cigarettes and a canister containing a roll of film. The only sound to be heard is birdsong.

This tranquil scene contrasts sharply with the events of July 3, 1985, when scores of Doors fans assembled here on the 14th anniversary of Morrison’s death. There were acts of desecration that day, and things became rowdy. So rowdy, in fact, that the French National Guard had to be called out to disperse the crowd with tear gas. Musing on this, I take a last look at the replacement headstone that was erected by Morrison’s parents in 1990. Its bronze plaque bears the inscription ‘Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy’. Translations from the Greek vary. Some say it means ‘To the divine spirit within himself’, others prefer ‘He caused his own demons’…

When Jim Morrison left Los Angeles, bound for Paris, one March day in 1971, the rest of The Doors were putting the finishing touches to L.A. Woman. No one knew it then, but that was to be the singer’s last album with the band. “Jim was not in the best of physical conditions,” Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek recalls now. “This guy who’d been a decent swimmer at high-school was drinking way too much and not taking care of himself. I think his record was 27 Mai Tais [a rum-based cocktail] in one sitting. The booze had created a new character, one that in my book, Light My Fire: My Life With The Doors, I give a separate name to: there was Jim, and then there was his homunculus-like alter ego Jimbo. And it was Jimbo that ultimately destroyed Jim in Paris.”

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Retrieved on 18 December 2018 from https://www.loudersound.com/features/the-doors-jims-death-we-have-to-accept-that-alcohol-was-the-main-culprit

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