The Doors - Riders on the storm

Morrison loved to pretend he was death, in shows.
Morrison loved to pretend he was death, in shows.

It is now more than half a century since The Doors published their first album in 1967. Although they only made music for five years, through his mysterious death in Paris in 1971, the charismatic and self-destructive Jim Morrison, managed to create a legend. He did not live to be the poet he wanted to be, but he has become a cult figure even today.

The death of Morrison was the last in a string of rock deaths, which began with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones in 1969, and continued on with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix in 1970, all at the age of 27 – although the doctor who saw Morrison’s body thought that he was 57. In order to understand his tragedy, we have to go back to his childhood. After The Doors began, Jim did not see his parents again, saying that his only family was his sister. 

Jim’s grandparents, on the Morrison side, were southern Presbyterians, working people who were fearful of God. His father followed in the family military tradition and was posted to Hawaii just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. He was an admiral in Vietnam, when his son became famous for his opposition to the war. Whenever he was asked about his childhood, there is an event that Jim tells again and again, announcing his own mysterious death.

One day, first thing in the morning, the family was driving through the dessert of New Mexico when his father came off the road onto a ditch, somewhere between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. There had been a head-on collision between a car and a lorry driven by Indians. Their bodies were “scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding”. The anguished voice of a woman could be heard wailing hysterically. When the boy tried to get out of the car with his father and grandfather to see what was happening, his mother stopped him, but he pressed his face to the window.

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