Mr. Mojo Risin': Remembering Jim Morrison’s Unfading Legacy

Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison was much more than a musician.  One of the most iconic front-men in the history of rock music, Morrison was a revolutionary, a story teller, a poet. He was the definition of the exemplary rock star. Heading The Doors, one of the most influential and archetypal classic rock bands the world has ever seen, Jim Morrison had built a legacy that would go on for years and years to come.

Born in Melbourne, Florida on December 8th, 1943, James Douglas Morrison was a rather gifted child, taking up piano and writing in school, while also developing into a voracious reader, reading the likes of Jack Kerouac, Franz Kafka, Friedrich Nietzsche amongst many others. However, there was one incident in his life that he referred to as “one of the most formative experience of my life” that deeply affected him. When his family was driving through the New Mexico desert, they came across a car accident, in which a family of Native Americans were injured and possibly killed. Such was the effect of the accident on a then 5 year old Jim Morrison, he even described the entire experience in the lyrics of ‘Peace Frog‘ that featured on the album ‘Morrison Hotel’ : “Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding/ Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind.

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Moving to Los Angeles in 1964 to attend the highly prestigious University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to study films and theater, it was there that Jim Morrison met his future band mate Ray Manzarek. Morrison, who often wrote poetry and lyrics, showed Manzarek the lyrics, who was quite impressed with Jim’s writing style, and called them “rock group material”. They were subsequently joined by John Densmore (drums) and Robby Krieger (guitars), with Ray Manzarek playing the keyboard and the bass, and Jim Morrison doing the vocals. The Doors had arrived.

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While they used to open for bands and artists at Whiskey a Go Go, one of the world’s most iconic rock and roll clubs, it was Jim Morrison‘s on-stage presence and The Doors‘ music that caught the attention of record labels. Their debut single ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side)‘ from their self titled debut album saw moderate success. However it was ‘Light My Fire‘ that catapulted them into success, and there was no looking back. The band had blown up in America. People wanted to listen to The Doors, they wanted to see them live. There was a sense of rebellion in Jim Morrison’s lyrics and attitude, and coupling that with their musical style, which blended in psychedelic rock with blues and hard rock, helped people associate with The Doors‘ music.

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His wild personality and on-stage performance, while having been applauded by many as ‘a breath of fresh air’, were also what got him into trouble. Jim Morrison was arrested in 1967 on stage, for inciting a mini riot, then again in March 1969 for indecent public exposure and later that year in November for heckling flight crew of an airline. These charges further led to the band being banned in countless venues across countless cities, which effectively brought an end to the band’s touring career, though that didn’t stop the band from releasing their albums.

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Despite his image as an alcohol and drug abusing fiend, Jim Morrison was still one of the most enlightened minds in the world of music. During his famous interview with Rolling Stone in 1969, Morrison spoke  vividly about the advent of electronic music, with the quote having being sampled by Skrillex himself for his single ‘Breakn’ A Sweat‘, that he produced in collaboration with the surviving members of The Doors.

That’s probably what’s going to happen: some brilliant kid will come along and be popular. I can see a lone artist with a lot of tapes and electrical … like an extension of the Moog synthesizer — a keyboard with the complexity and richness of a whole orchestra, y’know? There’s somebody out there, working in a basement, just inventing a whole new musical form. We’ll hear about it in a couple years. Whoever it is, though, I’d like him to be really popular, to play at large concerts, not just be on records — at Carnegie Hall, to play at dances …


In an attempt to get his life back on track, Morrison moved to Paris with his girlfriend Pamela Courson in 1971. However, still plagued by drugs and depression, Jim Morrison was found dead in the bathtub of their apartment by Pamela on the 3rd of July, apparently of a heart failure, though the jury still remains out on that. The lack of an autopsy by the French officials led to countless conspiracy theories. Dying at the age of 27, Jim Morrison joined the 27 Club, joining the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Brian Jones. He was buried at the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, which till date attracts a humongous amount of fans who’re there to pay their respects to The Lizard King.

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Jim Morrison might have been plagued by alcohol and drug addiction, his personal life might not have been the cleanest or the most sorted one, but he was still one of the finest writers and musicians the world had ever seen. His music inspired a generation of disoriented youth, who found solace and rebellion in his poetic lyrics, who associated with his rebellious and radical persona. His tragic, untimely death robbed the world of a person whose aim as a lyricist and singer was to open the minds of those who listened to his words, to encourage them to leave behind the familiar in search of the new. As Morrison put it, paraphrasing Aldous Huxley who was himself paraphrasing William Blake, “There are things known, and there are things unknown, and in between are The Doors.

 

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