Today In Rock: Jim Morrison is Born

Thursday, December 8: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Doors

On December 8, 1943, James Douglas "Jim" Morrison was born. The lead singer of the Doors lived a short, tragic life. He was only 27 when he died of heart failure in Paris, France. But, musically, Morrison accomplished a tremendous amount in his six years with the Doors. As Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Vice President of Exhibitions and Curatorial Jim Henke wrote in his book, The Jim Morrison Scrapbook: “From 1967 to 1970, during his spectacular zenith, Jim Morrison seemingly had it all. He was an internationally revered rock star with numerous hit records to his credit, a dynamic stage performer, an alluring sex symbol, and a published poet.” The Doors formed in the summer of 1965 around Morrison and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who’d met at UCLA’s film school. A year later the group signed with Elektra Records, recording six landmark studio LPs –  including their '67 self-titled debut, Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman – and a live album for the label. The group’s dark, brooding personality came largely from singer Jim Morrison.

The Museum is home to many Jim Morrison artifacts that help tell the Morrison story, such as his Cub Scout uniform and a poem Morrison wrote when he was 10 years old entitled "The Pony Express," which he claimed in a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone was the first poem he ever wrote. Among the more poignant and telling pieces in the Museum's collection is a letter that a probation officer in Dade County, Florida, sent to Morrison's father after Morrison was found guilty of indecent exposure and profanity after he allegedly exposed himself onstage during a show in Miami – a verdict that was eventually overturned. In the letter, the Florida official expresses concern about Morrison’s condition and asks his father for additional information. On October 21, 1970, Morrison’s father replied, stating that he had not seen his son in five years and that he had written Morrison a letter “severely criticizing his behavior and strongly advising him to give up any idea of singing or any connection with a musical group because of what I considered to be a complete lack of talent in this direction.” Less than a year later, Morrison was gone, but as he wrote in “An American Prayer”: Death makes angels of us all/And gives us wings/Where we had shoulders/Smooth as raven’s claws.

The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Eddie Vedder inducted the group, and later performed a short set with the remaining members. In the clip below, Vedder and the Doors deliver an electrifying performance of "Roadhouse Blues."

WATCH: The Doors with Eddie Vedder – "Roadhouse Blues"


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