The Rolling Stone Interview: Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison of The Doors on THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR, January 6th, 1969. CBS/Getty
Jim Morrison of The Doors on THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR, January 6th, 1969. CBS/Getty
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY JERRY HOPKINS AND PUBLISHED BY ROLLING STONE ON JULY 26, 1969.

Few performers have been so consistently controversial as James Douglas Morrison, the vocalist and songwriter of the Doors. And none has caused so many writers to construct so much gothic imagery in an effort to describe the mystique.

 In the Village Voice, for instance, one chronicler said Morrison was the “first major male sex symbol since James Dean died and Marlon Brando got a paunch” and another called him at (different times) a “leather tiger,” a “shaman-serpent king” and “America’s Oedipal nightingale.” In Eye, he was described as a “demonic vision out of a medieval Hellmouth” and the author of a book about the Doors called him “the Sex-death, Acid-Evangelist of Rock, a sort of Hell’s Angel of the groin.” While the Miami Herald tagged him “The King of Orgasmic Rock,” Joyce Haber dubbed him “the swinging Door” and prose-poet Liza Williams said he was a “baby bullfighter” and “the ultimate Barbie doll.”

If writers have been engaged in an inordinate amount of word-weaving, Morrison’s public has gone farther, spinning and spreading outrageous tales as regularly as the Doors have churned out hits. If you believed them all, Morrison was always drunk and/or stoned; both an angelic choirboy in an unfortunate setting and a satyr seeking a continuing debauch; boorish and inarticulate as well as polite, considered and shy; all the above and none of these. New stories — each wilder than the last — were told each week and over a period of two years Jim Morrison came to represent the perfect Super Star — someone far larger than his work or his life.

In truth, many of the extremes were based on more than fairytale. The week I interviewed him, for example, the Doors were being banned from performing in St. Louis and Honolulu because of exhibitionism and drunkeness charges filed against Morrison following a concert in Miami — yet, it was the same week that Morrison finished writing a screenplay with poet Michael McClure and signed a contract with Simon and Schuster for his own first book of poetry.

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