Here are The Doors. Maybe one of the most famous and influential rock´n roll groups of all times. In my research I will try to give an insight into their career. I will focus on their function as a music group in the era of the sixties, how they became famous and what they became famous for. Their music as well as their message had an great influence on the youth of the sixties and kept them alive until now, thirty years after their break-up.
2. Presentation - the rise to stardom and a short introduction into historical events
The sixties are generally considered as the time that had gotten the country moving. The confused American society tried to hide their sorrows behind a materialistic mask, blinking cars, the undamaged world of the cine ma. America flourished under a new substantial prosperity as a legacy of the Eisenhower era. This new superficiality and optimism induced the youths to rebel. The counterculture was formed and people took the chance to fight for their own rights, sometimes by all means necessary. It was an eventful and revolutionary time: the campus riots, the black civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, who fought against racism with peaceful protestations, his and Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, massive student protests and violent confrontations. And still America tried to carry on its business in an orderly way ignoring the cry for help of the youths. Alongside with the youth, the artists had declared war to the state and expressed their criticisms in their works. The revolt was expressed in the new music styles of that time. A band was formed who was soon to become the mirror of this very special new spirit who would seem to stand up for everything the youths were believing in. And no name could have been more apt than: The doors
They consisted of 4 band members:
1. Jim Morrison: lead singer, born on December 8th , 1943 in Melbourne, Florida
2. Ray Manzarek: organist, born on February 12th , 1939 in Chicago, Illinois
3. Robbie Krieger: guitar, born on January 8th, 1946 in Los Angeles
4. John Densmore: percussionist, born on December 1st, 1944 in Santa Monica, California
Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison had already been friends a long time before, as they both had graduated as theatre arts students from the University of California. In the summer of 65 north-Vietnamese ships had attacked American destroyers which led to the Tonkin-resolution and empowered President Lyndon Johnson to declare war to North-Vietnam.
In this eventful time, Ray and Jim met up by accident at a beach in California. As they started talking, Ray found out about Jim having started to write song lyrics. He sang a rudimentary composition “Moonlight drive” . Impressed by his deep and thoughtful lyrics, he invited Jim to join his campus band, Rick and the ravens, which also included two of Ray Manzareks brothers, Jim and Rick. A little later than Ray recruited John Densmore, whom he had met at a meditation centre that was led by the guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. John Densmore became the drummer of the band. As they had started to record some songs Jim Morrison had written, the two Manzarek-brothers left the band not liking the new material.
They were replaced by Robbie Krieger, whom John Densmore had also met at a meditation centre. Now the band was complete and was soon to become one of the most influential music group of all times. It was Jim Morison’s idea to call themselves “The Doors”, a name which he had taken from a quote by William Blake “ If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear as it is, infinite. ”
(William Blake, as quoted in Aldous Huxley ’ s ´ “ The doors of perception ”) (Sugarman 33)
They would start performing at several small and unpopular bars in Los Angeles playing alongside the rising stars of the day including The Byrds and Van Morrison’s Them. Soon they started singing at the “Whiskey-a-go-go”, a rather famous bar, downtown L.A. where they remained for a while as the house band. In 1966 they were finally recruited by Jac Holzman, the managing director of Elektra records. The label had only started its first inroads into the rock market, having a band called “Love” under contract, who had convinced Holzman of considering The Doors. Their first hit was actually a song that Robbie Krieger had written. As they ran out of songs, Jim assigned his band members to write new lyrics as their homework. Nobody but Krieger had written a song so they decided to make a single out of it. It became a number-one hit single in the USA. They received their first golden record. The Doors were soon to become a huge success throughout the US.
3. James Douglas Morrison
He proved to be the most important and popular member of the group and contributed to the fact, that The Doors would for a long time be remembered and achieved a cultstatus in the then mystic-oriented and today’s youth.
Throughout time there were several different pictures drawn of Jim Morrison, such as the poet, the eternal child, the philosopher, he was even seen as “Christ himself”. (Sugarman 90) Jim Morrison was a sort of a god, in which people could project their hopes, dreams and their fears. He was used as a hold for the troubled and desperate minds of the youth of the sixties.
The following pictures are those Jim Morrison liked to provoke himself:
3.1 The “Shaman”
“The shaman … he was a man who would intoxicate himself. See, he was probably already an unusual individual. And, he would put himself into a trance by dancing, whirling around, drinking, taking drugs- however. Then, he would go on a mental travel and describe his journey to the rest of the tribe. ” (Goldstein 74) Jim Morrison shared a deep belief in Indian traditions.
This belief originated in a drastic experience he made throughout his childhood: He went on a trip to New Mexico with his parents. Driving down a highway, they passed a spot where an accident had happened. Several Indians were lying on the side of the road, bleeding and about to die. Jim, being only six years old, got very upset. He would remember this event all his life and mentions it in some of his songs (Morrison, “Peace frog ”), in which he explains, that in that moment a soul of a dying Indian leaped into his soul. He would celebrate his “Indian side” constantly on stage, where he would start performing an unforgettable dance of the shaman. Some of his fans would hold on to his image of an Indian medicine man, believing themselves in the force of shamanism and seeing Jim Morrison as their saviour.
3.2 The poet
“ There are no longer “ dancers ” , the possessed. The cleavage of men into actor and spectators is the central fact of our time. We are obsessed with heroes who live for us and whom we punish. If all the radios and televisions were deprived of their sources of power, all books and paintings burned tomorrow, all shows and cinemas closed, all the arts of vicarious existence ( … ) We are content with the “ given ” in sensation ’ s quest. We have been metamorphosised from a mad body dancing on hillsides to a pair of eyes staring in the dark. ” (Morrison 169)
Throughout his whole life Morrison wrote great and profound poetry.
He was extraordinarily bright, had an high IQ of about 140. His work was inspired by difficult and complex literature, such as Nietzsche, Aldous Huxley, Greek mythology, Rimbaud, C.G. Jung. He would especially identify himself with the famous philosopher Dionysus. He was fascinated and inspired by the Greeks puritan way of life, which he would experience himself, never really caring for money and living in a tent during long-time periods. His high school-and college teachers were aware of his multispectral knowledge. He would start instigating speeches during his classes and involve his teachers in heated discussions.
As he would later state, his major interest was “ anything about revolt, disorder, chaos- especially activity that seems to have no meaning.”(Sugarman 125) His fascination for the dark sides of human nature would be reflected in his song lyrics and in the numerous poetry books he published throughout his time as a rock star. For example: “An American prayer”, “The Lords”, “The New Creatures” and “The American Night”.
They never became as popular as Jim’s songs, but he was nevertheless pleased to see his lifeworks being brought to the people. He would also profit of The Doors live shows to pour in some of his poetry which, was underlined by an very efficient and dramatic instrumental background created by his band colleagues.
But The Doors studio bosses were against Jims poetry and avoided to record it on their albums. They preferred to promote Jim Morison’s rock ´n roll-star image that was sold so much better.
Later in his life, shortly before The Doors were broken up, he began changing his image as he got sick of the one that had been created around him. He had purposely created his image of an “sex symbol” and the “lizard king”, who could “do anything”(Hopkins 74), but now he considered them naïve and stupid, and changed drastically. He let his hair grow out and stopped shaving, until his beard had grown densely. He exchanged his more or less self-destructive life-style for a quieter one. He would devote more time to concentrate on his poetry and some of his film projects. First of all, he began participating in the filming of the “The Doors” movie “Feast of friends” with three of his close friends he had met during his time at the UCLA: Frank Lisciandro, Paul Ferrara and Babe Hill. The film was a documentation of The Doors concerts. But it did not exceptionally concentrate on The Doors but on the atmosphere around them. The screaming and shouting fans that were desperately trying to break through the wall of strung-together cops to get on stage. It showed the violence, the unrest and the hectic during their performances.
In beginning of 1969 Jims friend Michael McClure and himself had organized a poetry séance in San Francisco. The movie which was made along with this séance would later be shown on several film festivals all through America and documented among other things the music business in 1968.
Short after having finished the work on “Feast of friends”, Jim would start another film project called “Hiway” which could be considered as a filming of a poem. The content was actually very brief: a hitchhiker travels from the desert to Los Angeles. On his way he kills a man who had picked him up and continues the drive alone. The end of the movie shows the murderer sitting alone in a motel in the city. But anyhow the film was very well received by the film critics.
Despite of his success as a film director, his poetic side would always be the one that was most of all set off by his intimate circle of friends.
3.3 The rebel - the “lizard king”
His deep hate for the elder generation and his desperate struggle against every existing reigning authority traces back to his very early childhood. The occupation of his father, who was a marine officer had forced the family to move several times. Jim started to revolt against the sudden removals, but his father, possessed of the idea of making a career, ignored his families desires, which made Jim develop a deep hate against his father and with him against every kind of existing authority. His anger got so far that he would claim that his parents were dead, when he was asked about them in interviews.
Expressing his anger in his songs and interviews, he would become the hero of the times, as nobody would be a better executer for the restless and risking fight against the establishment. During his performances his intentions were the most obvious. The band was always protected by many policemen, who stood around the stage. They became the favourite target for Jims sneering remarks and teasing.
Jim was fascinated by women. He had a long-time girl- friend, Pamela Courson, an only 18-year-old girl he had met in Los Angeles. Jim Morrison would stay with her for the rest of his life. It seems, as if Pamela was the most important woman by his side, who would be described by Jim himself as his “cosmic- mate”. (Hopkins/Sugarman 376) During the time they were on tour, Jim would meet other women, for example Patricia Kennealy, the editor of a “Jazz and pop” magazine. She was fascinated by witchcraft and would also practice it herself. Jim knew her in an interview in New York in 1969. Shortly after they were married in a Pagan ceremony, in which they both had to drink their own blood to seal their union. Today this bond is actually recognized, so Jim and Patricia Kennealy are officially married and she calls herself Patricia Kennealy Morrison.
Jim was a serious alcoholic but he justified his alcoholism with the fact, that it would support his creative works. He would describe it as a matter of fact, that every artist had been some kind of an addict. (Sugarman 10)
The other band members as well as his closer friends suffered of his alcoholism and the dark sides of his character that were consequently brought into being. Soon he would become the victim of his alcohol abuse.
4. The Doors - the leader of the counterculture
4.1 The counterculture
Due to the post war baby boom, a big part of the US population, 43%, consisted of youths aged under 18, which would make them a decisive factor for the American economy. Furthermore the growing wealth of the American society also emphasized the exclusion of the minorities, like the immigrants or blacks.
The counterculture was the name given to the youth, which were united by their sense of rebellion against the government and which was acting as an opposition to the “official” America, the elder generation, the establishment. It consisted of Hippies, Yuppies, political activists and alienated youngsters. They had actually already formed up in the mid-1960s, but their revolutionary heyday was definitely by the end of 1968. In the 1970s they largely dispersed, as protestations had mostly worn out and a high living standard had become more important to them than “overtaking the world”. In the year 1968, the North-Vietnamese, the Vietcong - the communist warriors of Vietnam - had launched the devastating Tet-offensive, which compelled the former president Lyndon B. Johnson to stop the bombardment and marked the beginning of long- lasting negotiations for the end of the war in Paris.
The campus riots got increasingly violent as the legendary Black civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King had been murdered in Tennessee. Shortly after that, Robert F. Kennedy, maybe one of the most exciting political figure in that time, was shot dead in Los Angeles. Richard M. Nixon had been elected as the president of the U.S. by the “official” America . Nixon would fulfil the promise of going back to the old-fashioned tradition-loving America and would mark an end to the protestations, that had been at that time widespread throughout the US.
The counterculture youths was also distinguished in two different groups: some of its members believed to be freed rom restraints by creating a complete new life style, destined to offend the elder generation. The well-known slogan by, teacher and psychologist, Timothy Leary, “Tune in, turn on, drop out” became their motto, and they would try to spread their philosophy throughout the nation. San Francisco was the city in which most of the youths had adapted this way of life. The school-dropouts let their hair grow unconventionally long, and lived in total freedom of rules and restraints.
( Bradbury/Temperly 279)
They would use sex as a form of liberation. Reality seemed to them so unmanageable and depressing that they would turn to drugs to let fantasy take the place of the real world, hence the vogue for psychedelic drugs, like LSD, Opium or Marihuana, which had already been outlawed in 1966. The most famous meeting place for the “hippies” had become the Haight-Ashbury, which was situated in San Francisco. There they would meet up and celebrate their easy- going life-style of love, peace and happiness. Later the press had caught on to the Haight- Ashbury and got their life-style widespread throughout the country.
The youths would also reunite on amplified rock festivals as a form of a peaceful protest against the elder generation, during which they would consume their “mind drugs” and celebrate wild orgies in public.
On the other hand, some members of the counterculture that were more interested in defending their own political ideas, would urge young men to burn their draft cards and help draft-resisters to escape to Canada or Sweden. (Bradbury/Temperly 279). They would form anti- war or anti-racism organizations, trying to fight against the establishment by more violent means. They declared their duty as the overthrow of society. (Bradbury/Temperly 280) Fights between the police and protesters became a matter of course.
4.2 Their music as a mirror of the sixties´ spirit
The sixties weren’t only a revolutionary time in politics and society, but also in music. In 1965 music groups and hippies started singing songs of freedom, peace and love - hymns to the sixties era. “The Byrds”, who had already sang along with The Doors in the “Whiskey-a-go-go” in Los Angeles, achieved a breakthrough with their song Mr Tambourine man. “The Rolling stones” came up with their legendary song I can ’ t get no satisfaction,” The Beatles” cried for help with their well-known song Help and made it a number one hit in the charts, whose place would be taken up by the song Like a Rolling stone by Bob Dylan. He would also be the one singing the drug- glorifying song It ’ s a rainy day woman. Another song that perfectly reflects the optimistic attitude of the youth was Good vibrations by “The Beach boys” . (Hopkins 56) The Doors got from the beginning on popular for their unique style of music, which was described as “acid” rock by some rock critics. Actually it would have been an apt title for their music, as it would have referred to rock as a “drug experience” as well as “acid” in terms of social commentary. (Sugarman 81) But their music would always stay considered as a “world unto themselves”.(Hopkins/ Sugarman 8) It was popular for Ray Manzareks organ interludes, Robbie Krieger’s creative guitar tones and an electrifying drum accompaniment by John Densmore. Jim got rather popular for his out-of-control behaviour on stage and his dark lyrics. With every album they recorded, they tried to become more experimental and surprised their fans anew. Their style would come about due to their use of different exotic instruments, such as a Wurlitzer electric keyboard and a Vox Continental organ which Ray Manzarek played on. In addition to that he put a Fender Rhodes Piano Bass on it which created a whole new sound.
The first album they released was simply called “The Doors”, which had already been finished after two weeks of intense studio work. It included hits like the famous Break on through, their single Light my fire and an eleven-minute and a rather controversial track The end. It would become one of Jim’s and the publics favourite song. It had apart of great lyrics a short sequence in it, Jim invented throughout one of their improvisations on stage which would make the song shocking, even terrifying for some people:
The killer awoke before dawn, He put his boots on … ..
He took a face from the ancient gallery And he walked on down the hallway
He went into the room where his sister lived then he paid a visit to his brother And then he … walked on down the hallway.
And he came to a door And he looked inside; Father? Yes son? I want to kill you!
Mother, I want to … ..Fuck you! (Morrison, “ The end ” )
To contribute to the dramatic effect of those lines the other band members created an electrifying background.
In this sequence Jim was referring to Greek mythology, “the Oedipus rex, - the discussed subject of the Freudian psychoanalysis”. (Manzarek 188) Although all of his songs consisted of suggestions of sex, death and transcendence, this song was maybe the most expressive of them all.
The Doors would be the band who would truly identify with the main ideas of the musical and liberation movement that was going on around them, but they would treat the task with greater seriousness. With their music they were wanting to try to open up the eyes of the youths and make them aware of the cruelty and disorder of society. The music of The Doors was considered as rather ”uncomfortable to listen to and hard to absorb”. (Sugerman 52) Jim Morrison with his great intelligence would inconsiderate reveal the truth about peoples fears and the dark sides of the human being. He himself would describe the character of the band in a quote he would repeatedly mention in his interviews
There are things known, and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors. (Sugerman 34)
To his angriness their first song Light my fire would define their image of an ordinary teenybopper-band. He would try to fight against this image with following songs like his successful song The end. Parallel to Light my fire they landed another hit, Break on through, a request to revolt, to free oneself from restraints, to “break on through to the other side” like most of their following songs would. Their first album “ The Doors” included among others those two songs and was as expected a great hit. In 1968 after having worked hard the second album fo llowed surprisingly soon after their first one in whose songs Jim would spont to the political turmoil of the times. The youth had gotten increasingly upset about the Vietnam war. He wrote his most militant songs. An excellent example is the song Unknown soldier, which would also lead to an inflammatory film project and a theatrical performance on stage. The film shows the band walking along the beach, Jim carrying a bouquet of flowers. He is tied up to a post by the other band members and is being executed, blood is dripping out of his mouth on the bouquet of flowers that is lying in front of him. Afterwards pictures of the Vietnam war are shown, soldiers laying in the mud - bleeding and dying. In their stage performance, Jim was shot by Robbie Krieger who pointed his guitar at him as if it was a machine gun. Sirens sounds were created by Ray Manzareks organ and Jim would shout commands like a general.
Breakfast where the news is read Television children fed
Bullet strikes the helmet's head ( … ) Make a grave for the unknown soldier Nestled in your hollow shoulder
The unknown soldier (Morrison “ Unknown soldier ” )
The song made it only to the top 40 as to this time themes about the Vietnam war were possibly ignored by the American government, something none of them wanted to talk about. This fact was maybe even a reason for The Doors to write about it. TV stations avoided to show the film on public TV channels. It would just rarely be shown in underground cinemas. The track appeared as a single and on their second album “Waiting for the sun ” , along with the famous songs Hello I love you, which would be similar to their first hit Light my fire and support once again their image of a teenybopper band. Their second album “Strange days ” finally included Jim Morison’s poetic song Moonlight drive which had brought The Doors into being. In this song the parallel he draws between sex and death is maybe the most obvious.
Another revolutionary song on the album is Five to one. It describes the gap between the young and the elder generation, and the young generations dominating power. “Five” stands for the youth and “one” for the elders. It was another of Jims songs that was meant to stir up the younger ones:
(...) The old get old
And the young get stronger May take a week And it may take longer They got the guns But we got the numbers Gonna win, yeah We're takin' over ( … ) Five in one one in five no one here gets out alive (Morrison “ Five to one ” )
In 1969 the third album “ The soft parade ” was released which would become their maybe most experimental album. It included several popular tracks: Tell all the people, Touch me, another hit single Robbie had written, Do it, which was inspired by jazz rock, the countryrocksong Easy ride, the autobiographical Wild child, a classic track Wishful Sinful and as a climax the four-parted suite The soft parade. The song Touch me would become another great hit which would even get them invited to the “Smothers brothers show”.
Their next album was “Morrison Hotel”. It included popular tracks like Peace frog in which, as already mentioned, Jim told the story of the accident he had experienced in his childhood.
The last album “L.A. woman ” was considered as The Doors comeback. The most famous track is surely Riders on the storm, a mystic recomposition of an old song titled “Ghostriders in the sky”. The title-song L.A. woman was Jim Morrison’s personal good-bye song to Los Angeles. “L.A. woman ” was the critics favourite album.
4.3 Their concerts
“ We are primarily a rock ´ n roll band, a blues band, just a band, but that ’ s not all. A Doors concert is a public meeting called by us for a special kind of dramatic discussion and entertainment. When we perform, we ’ re participating in the creation of a world, and we celebrate this creation with the audience. It becomes the sculpture of bodies in action. That ’ s politics, but our power is sexual. We make concerts sexual politics. The sex starts with me, then moves out to include the charmed circle of musicians on stage. The music we make goes out to the audience and interacts with them; they go home and interact with the rest of reality, then I get it all back by interacting with that reality, so the whole sex thing works out to be one fine big ball of fire. ” (Sugarman 48)
The Doors performances were maybe what helped them to their greatest success.
Already in the small bars of Los Angeles people would have come to see their performances because of their experimental style and their “crazy singer”. (Sugarman/Hopkins 86 )
At first Jim Morisson had been shy and turned away from his audience only showing them his back. On the basis of his insecurity, his voice was still weak and he clung himself tight to the microphone stand and kept his eyes closed during the hole performance.
But he would soon gain a lot more self-confidence on stage as they started making their first successful steps in the music business and signed their first contract with Elektra. As the stages got larger, Jim’s performances took more and more place. He would start doing his famous dance of the shaman or suddenly fall to the floor as if he had been shot. Many of their concerts suffered from Jims drunkenness, which would cause him to forget text lines or insult the audience.
Their first concerts took place in San Francisco, the city maybe the most influenced by the “beat generation” and New York where they would be always very well received. Their most famous concerts also includes their performance at the Hollywood Bowl and the Madison Square Garden. But their success wasn’t only limited on the U.S. As rock ´n roll had turned out to be a sort of international language, the band also went on an obligated Europe tour with another music group named “Jefferson Airplane”, where they went to London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Copenha gen and Stockholm.
4.3.1 The state of Florida vs. Jim Morrison
The Miami incident would be the one that would be the most damaging for The Doors career.
It was their first appearance in Florida and a result of their winning of a popularity poll on the university of Miami campus. Bill Siddons, The Doors manager, had made a deal with the Miami promoter Ken Collier to accept a flat fee of $25 000 instead of sixty percent of the gross receipts. In order to make the concert even more profitable to him, Collier sold eight-to nine thousand tickets at more than the agreed price. Furthermore he took out the seats of the auditorium which was designed to hold seven-thousand people and which was now totally overstocked with thirteen thousand people.
So the atmosphere behind the stage would already be tense and the audience had grown more and more nervous as The Doors were more than an hour late in starting. The delay had been Jim’s fault, as he had gone out to have some drinks and after a while forgot the time, which had become somewhat typical for him. Being already deadly drunk, he even asked Vince Treanor for some more beer. Vince had accompanied the doors on every show, supervising the set up, breakdown, and maintenance of The Doors impressive sound system, his uno fficial job was to provide Jim with drinks. But this time he refused. As The Doors played the first lines of Break on through, Jim had already gone off the stage, sharing some drinks with some spectators. He didn’t react to the music, instead he began yelling at the audience, he began insulting them, taunting them.
“ Lettin people tell you what you ’ re gonna do! Lettin people push you around. How long do you think it ’ s gonna last? How long are you gonna let ´ em push you around? How long? Maybe you love it, maybe you love getting your face stuck in the shit ( … ) (Sugarman/Hopkins 230)
His performance was inspired by the Living theatre, the play “Paradise now” he had seen the day before. The purpose of the living theatre was that the actors engaged the spectators in dialogues, baiting them if necessary to get a response, shouting the words in anguish and frustration. Most plays included a catalogue of complaints of any sort presented with explosive energy, in which they even exposed themselves keeping the forbidden areas of their body covered, it was an active demonstration against prohibition. The plays had often been stopped by the police. Jim was fascinated by it, and it seemed as if his performance that night was also meant to be a play that he had planned in detail.
When he went back to singing a couple of lines of a song, he suddenly started unbuckling his belt and, in spite of their desperate road manager Vince Treanor, who had seen the trouble coming and had rushed to Jim’s side, trying to keep him from pulling his pants down, he seemed to have exposed himself for a couple of seconds. Long enough to make his hole life suffer from this incident. Then he approached Robbie Krieger and kneeled down in front of him which would later be considered as simulated oral copulation.
A fan came up to the stage, an eccentric named Louis Marvin, who The Doors had gotten to know in California, giving Jim a lamb, he would hold for a moment. In contrast to the assertion that would be made, the police that had gathered around the stage for safety, had a great time at the concert. Jim took one of their hats off and threw it in the audience, so the policemen went on and did the same thing to Jims hat. Then Jim returned to sing another song , but he forgot lines or repeated himself, threw in some other insulting phrases directed to the audience and his voice had gotten hoarse and slur. He invited and badgered the audience to come closer to the stage or to join him. The policemen had their hands full trying to push the audience back, scared of inciting a riot. Finally Jim was pushed off the stage by one of the promoters security men. (Hopkins/Sugarman 234)
5. The end
After the Miami incident, The Doors career was greatly influenced by the process following the concert.
While Jim had taken off for a short holiday, The Doors manager Bill Siddons would have to see their career getting destroyed by Miami’s politicians and policemen. On Wednesday, March 5, as Bob Jennings, a clerk in the state attorney’s office, offered to serve as a complainant in the case, James Douglas Morrison was charged with one felony - lewd and lascivious behaviour-and three misdemeanours - indecent exposure, open profanity, and drunkenness. The felony charge would prove to be the most controversial for the public. Jim was accused of exposing himself on stage simulated the acts of masturbation upon himself and oral copulation upon another. (Hopkins/Sugarman 236)
Now the future of the whole group was endangered as they were banned on every important concerts in foreseeable future and radio stations refused to play their music. And even the press that had before always been on The doors side had turned against them.
The trial would not start until August 12th, 1970. Max Fink, The Doors lawyer, was Jims defence lawyer, the prosecutor was Terrence McWilliams and judge Murray Goodman presided over the case. Evidence was given by many witnesses that would mostly be contradictory. In addition to that hundreds of photos were submitted as evidence although none of the m proved beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty. The defence would later make a crucial mistake by allowing a tape of the concert to be played for the jury, which would be more than shocking and convincing.
As the trial went on the press and the publics interest waned. In contrast to the beginning of the trial when newspapers had mocked the incident in almost every edition, now it seemed like nobody really cared anymore for what was happening to Jim Morrison.
He was eventually convicted of two misdemeanours, open profanity and indecent exposure, he was given sixty days of hard labour in the Dade county jail and for exposure he was sentenced to six months of the same, after which he was to serve two years and four months of probationary time. In addition to that he was fined $500. Eventually his lawyer Max Fink and Morrison would go in revision. The convictions were still in the process of appeal, when Jim Morrison had finished the album “L.A. woman ” and had left for Paris with Pamela Courson.
In an later interview he was asked for an explanation for his behaviour at the Miami concert
“ I think I was just fed up with the image that had been created around me, which I sometimes consciously, most of the time unconsciously cooperated with. It was just too much for me to really stomach and so I just put an end to it in one glorious evening. ” (Hopkins/Sugarman 316)
The convictions were still in the process of appeal, when Jim had finished The Doors last album L.A. woman and left for Paris with his girlfriend Pamela Courson. He had already told the band several times before that he was going to leave the band as it caused too much trouble for him. He took a time out in Paris, regaining control of his life. But on July 3rd 1971 Jim was found dead in a bathtub in his Paris apartment. The official cause of his death is a heart failure, but as no autopsy had been made, the doors fans and friends came up with some strange theories. One of them is for example that Jim had been murdered by the FBI because he was considered an enemy of the establishment. (cf. Internet 1) He was buried on the famous cemetery Père Lachaise in Paris. His death marked the end of “The Doors era”.
6. The Doors forever
After their break-up the other doors had still tried to continue their musical career. Ray Manzarek for example gave an musical background to Jim Morison’s poems of his book The lords and the new creatures and released just a few albums he had recorded with friends of his. He also wrote down the history of The Doors in his book “Light my fire - my life with the doors”.
Robbie Krieger had started the less successful music group the “Robbie Krieger organization” and started painting.
John Densmore wrote the famous Doors-biography “Riders on the storm ” which was also used for the official movie “The Doors” by Oliver Stone.
Today The Doors are still maybe one of the most influential rock groups of all times. There are numerous web pages dedicated to The Doors - especially to Jim Morrison. Furthermore, The Doors legend had been kept alive by magazines - for example “The Doors Collectors Magazine”, which allows us to talk to fans from around the world.. Still there are thousands of fans going on a pilgrimage to Jim Morison’s grave on Père Lachaise leaving their dedications on and around his grave.
Numerous doors tribute bands had been formed, such as the Soft parade, Wild child, Back doors, Riders on the storm and many more. On those concerts people remember the legend and remember Jim Morrison. The musicians are able to imitate The Doors perfectly.
But the most striking fact is, that The Doors´ music still influenced a lot of today’s music groups. It seems like even 30 years after their break-up the doors are still alive. You can still see pictures of Jim Morrison anywhere in the media. Their music is transferred from generation to generation and their motives didn’t change either: Today’s generation still tries to achieve what the old generation did, and expected from the doors music: freedom.
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