Morrison, Jim

Morrison, Jim
   One of the most glamorous and intellectually challenging rock stars of his generation, Jim Morrison was also an accomplished poet. According to Stephen Davis, “He was arguably the major poet to emerge from the turmoil of the legendary American sixties.”
   James Douglas Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida, on December 8, 1943. His family moved around, following his father’s assignments as a professional navy man. As a young boy traveling with his family between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Santa Fe, Morrison saw the aftermath of a horrific automobile accident that left Native Americans dying on the road. Morrison believed the soul of one merged with his own. When Morrison saw James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), a fascination with film began that would last the rest of his life. While in high school in San Francisco in the late 1950s, Morrison spent time in lawrence ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books, where he met Ferlinghetti and was exposed to the works of michael mcclure, allen ginsberg, and jack kerouac. Ray Manzarek would write, “I suppose if Jack Kerouac had never written on tHe road, the Doors would never have existed.” The young Morrison liked to copy the mannerisms of Dean Moriarty (Kerouac’s character based on neal cassady). Morrison was later influenced by Robert Frank’s underground film Pull My Daisy, which was narrated by Kerouac and starred Ginsberg and gregory corso. After spending time at Florida State University, where he continued to read such Beat writers as William S. Burroughs, Morrison attended the University of California at Los Angeles, where he met Manzarek, to study film. One of Morrison’s classmates was Francis Ford Coppola. Morrison also took a writing class at UCLA with Jack Hirschman. Morrison would not see his parents again after December 1964. He began to indulge in LSD, the drug promoted by timothy leary for consciousness expanding. In the summer of 1965 Morrison and Manzarek formed The Doors, later to include Robby Krieger and John Densmore. The band’s name derived from Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, which was derived from William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite.”
   Morrison met Ginsberg in late 1965, and The Doors became the house band at the London Fog, where Morrison met the love of his life, Pamela Courson, on the Sunset Strip. By May 1966 The Doors had become the house band at the famous Whisky-A-Go-Go. During this time Morrison met Andy Warhol, who was in Los Angeles with the Velvet Underground, and Nico, the band’s chanteuse, fell in love with Morrison. That summer the band was signed to Elektra Records. In January 1967 The Doors attended the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park and saw Ginsberg, McClure, Leary, and lenore kandel usher in the Hippie Generation. The Door’s first album would reach the top of the charts during the Summer of Love. During the next few years The Doors would be the biggest band in the United States, and Morrison would have legendary encounters with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Mick Jagger. The image of bare-chested Jim Morrison, hair by Jay Sebring (who was later murdered by the followers of Charles Manson), would become one of the indelible icons of the 1960s. Morrison became very close with Michael McClure, who encouraged Morrison to publish his poetry, and the two of them worked on a screenplay after abandoning a project to make McClure’s play The Beard into a film starring Morrison.
   Alcoholism plagued Morrison during his years of fame, and after being arrested for supposedly exposing himself onstage in Miami in 1969 (an act he did not do despite the legend), Morrison found less interest in being a pop star and eventually moved to Paris to become a poet. Books of poetry by Morrison include The Lords (1969), The new creatures (1970), An American Prayer (1970), WildernessThe Lost Writings of Jim Morrison (1988), and The American NightThe Writings of Jim Morrison Volume 2 (1990).
   Morrison died probably of a heroin overdose on July 3, 1971, in an apartment he shared with Pamela Courson in Paris. His grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of the most often visited sites in the City of Light. The Greek epitaph on his grave, kata ton daimona eaytoy, can be translated as “To the divine spirit within himself,” “The devil within himself,” “The genius in his mind,” and “He caused his own demons.” Michael McClure writes of Morrison the poet, “As to his potential for growth—well, he started out so good that I don’t know how much better he could’ve gotten. He started off like a heavyweight. . . . I liked Jim’s complexity, his brilliance. I think he was one of the finest, clearest spirits of our times.”
■ Davis, Stephen. Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend. New York: Gotham Books, 2004.
■ Manzarek, Ray. Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1998.
■ McClure, Michael. “Michael McClure Recalls an Old Friend.” Rolling Stone, 8 August 1971, 40.
   Kurt Hemmer

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

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  • Morrison, Jim — (1943–1971)    Born James Douglas Morrison. Lead singer and songwriter of the late 1960s–early 1970s American rhythm and blues , blues , and jazz influenced psychedelic rock band the Doors. The band’s name was taken from Aldous Huxley’s book The… …   Historical dictionary of shamanism

  • Morrison, Jim — orig. James Douglas Morrison born Dec. 8, 1943, Melbourne, Fla., U.S. died July 3, 1971, Paris, France U.S. rock singer and songwriter. He studied film at the University of California in Los Angeles, where he met Ray Manzarek (b. 1935); with… …   Universalium

  • Morrison, Jim — orig. James Douglas Morrison (8 dic. 1943, Melbourne, Fla., EE.UU.–3 jul. 1971, París, Francia). Cantautor de rock estadounidense. Estudió cine en la Universidad de California en Los Ángeles, donde conoció a Ray Manzarek (n. 1935). Ambos, junto… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jim Morisson — Jim Morrison Jim Morrison Portrait de Jim Morrison Nom James Douglas Morrison …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jim Morrison — Portrait de Jim Morrison. Nom James Douglas Morrison Naissance 8 décembre  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Morrison (James Douglas) — Jim Morrison Jim Morrison Portrait de Jim Morrison Nom James Douglas Morrison …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Morrison — Morrison, Toni * * * (as used in expressions) Flagler, Henry M(orrison) MacIver, Robert M(orrison) Morrison, Jim James Douglas Morrison Morrison, Toni Frank Morrison Spillane Waite, Morrison (Remick) Marion Michael Morrison …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jim — /jim/, n. a male given name, form of James. * * * (as used in expressions) Beckwourth Jim Bowie Jim Bridger Jim Brown Jim Henson Jim Wong Tung Jim Jim Crow Law Jones Jim Morrison Jim Player Gary Jim Thorpe Jim * * * …   Universalium

  • Jim Morrison — For other people named James or Jim Morrison, see James Morrison (disambiguation). Jim Morrison Performing with The Doors, Frankfurt, Germany, 1968. Background information Birth name …   Wikipedia

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