Jim continues his Song Lyric Sunday series with today’s theme of the 27 Club ~ artists who died at age 27. My choice is Jim Morrison, who was born in Florida on December 8, 1943 and died in Paris, France on July 3, 1971. Jim was the lead singer of the rock group the Doors and had a flamboyant presence on the stage as well as a wild lifestyle. Morrison moved around quite a bit as a child and ended up in high school in Virginia, where he scored 149 on an IQ test. He was a voracious reader and consumed loads of poetry and philosophy, as well as obscure books about demonology. (Source: Wikipedia.)
In 1964-1965, Jim attended the film program at UCLA and took a class in surrealism. He completed his degree in Fine Arts but refused to attend the graduation ceremony. He indulged in a bohemian lifestyle on a rooftop in Venice, California, writing lyrics and eating beans, as well as experimenting with LSD. Jim was friends with Ray Manzarek, a fellow film student, and they formed the Doors in 1965, taking the name from Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception (supposedly they’d magically open if you used LSD). Guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore subsequently joined the group. The Doors’ first single was released in 1966 and titled “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” and they created a short film to go with it. Great song!
The Doors signed with Elektra Records in 1967, and their new single “Light My Fire” (from their January 1967 debut album The Doors) spent three weeks at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100. When they went on The Ed Sullivan Show, they were asked to change the lyrics in the song from “higher” to “better,” and they said they’d do it but then didn’t. Ed was angry and refused to shake their hands afterward. By the time they released Strange Days (September 1967), the Doors’ popularity had skyrocketed. Later in 1967, in New Haven, CT, Morrison had the “honor” of being the first rock performer to be arrested on stage during a live performance ~ for indecency and public obscenity. Though those charges were dropped, Morrison began to act even crazier, resulting in more arrests and canceled concerts, and culminating in a 6-month prison sentence in Florida.
In March 1971, Jim joined his long-time girlfriend Pamela Courson in Paris, where he took long walks and lost some of the weight he had gained during his wilder days. However, in July, she found him dead in a bathtub. The official cause of death was listed as heart failure, though there were some who believed it was a heroin overdose. RIP Mr. Mojo Risin’.
The song I’m sharing today is “Light My Fire,” though it’s hard for me to pick a Doors’ favorite as I love so much of their work. All four band members are credited with writing this song, though Krieger was the principal writer.
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