Jim Morrison

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Subject Profile

James Douglas "Jim" Morrison (1943-1971) was one of the most iconic musicians in the history of rock and roll as his images and music can be seen and heard some forty plus years after his tragic death at a young age. Jim was a "Navy Brat" and his father, Rear Admiral George Stephen Morrison, moved the family often during Jim's childhood. His brilliance was evident early on and his love for reading and learning helped develop Jim into an extremely intelligent young man. As a boy of only four years old, Jim's father drove through a car accident site of an injured and possibly dead Native American family; an extremely upsetting image that Jim never forgot and which wove its way into the fabric of Jim's writings, both songs and poetry. Jim considered this one of the most significant events of his life. Jim often withdrew from social situations and struggled to make friends due to his family's nomadic life, but he found solace in school. He attended Florida State University and then UCLA to pursue a film career. It was in Los Angeles in 1965, still a poet and now a film school graduate, that Jim met Ray Manzarek, an aspiring musician and keyboard player. They determined that Jim had created poetry that was "rock group" worthy and together with drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robbie Krieger formed The Doors later that year.

The Doors enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame steamrolling the music scene as they went from playing LA clubs in 1966, to signing with Elektra Records in 1967, scoring a #1 hit in "Light My Fire" from their first album The Doors and culminating in an unforgettable appearance on the legendary Ed Sullivan Show. Defiant to his core, Jim found pleasure in pushing the limits at performances, often inciting fan interference, goading them into participation, to the dismay of promoters, concert venues and the authorities across the country. Despite his juvenile antics on stage that led to his occasional arrests, the band endured releasing five albums over four years – Strange Days (1967), Waiting for the Sun (1968), The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970) and L.A. Woman (1971). Morrison's public antics paired with a heavy use of alcohol and psychedelic drugs weighed on the band and Jim began to pull away, growing more interested in furthering his poetry. He moved to Paris with his companion, Pamela Courson, in March of 1971 following the release of "L.A. Woman". On July 3, 1971 Jim Morrison was found dead in his bathtub at his apartment in Paris at the age of 27, making him the third 27-year-old rock music icon, with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, to die prematurely over the previous 10-month period.

Because there was no evidence of foul play, French law did not require an autopsy, thereby miring Jim's death in mystery and creating doubt about his death for skeptics. Rumors swirled for many years to come that Jim was still alive, living in Paris or some other place away from the prying public eye. Jim was buried in Paris' Pere Lachaise cemetery. Because The Doors were only together for six years, atop the music charts, and because of Jim's demise at such a young age, his autographs are extremely rare and in demand. Morrison's reclusiveness only added to the rarity of his memorabilia and autographs that have realized thousands of dollars at auction.