Jim Morrison – poet, rock god, and one of music's most controversial stars – paved the path and set the bar high for future rock stars. Rock’s first bad boy was, once upon a time, a very reserved performer who sang with his back to the crowd. As we are about to honor the 40th anniversary of Mr. Mojo Risin’s death, here is a look back at some of his most controversial moments.
These are the controversial lyrics of the song that shocked the world and made The End one of the most requested songs at Doors concerts. The End is ranked #336 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Times and Jim had written it to express his feelings – loosely – about breaking up with a girl he had formerly dated, Mary Werbelow. Jim is quoted saying, “Every time I hear that song, it means something else to me. It started out as a simple good-bye song probably just to a girl, but I see how it could be a goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don't know. I think it's sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be." With regards to the infamous line, were Jim’s feelings towards his parents accurate? The line was cited as a reference to the Oedipus complex. Ray Manzarek (The Doors' Keyboardist) explained, “Jim was giving voice in a rock 'n' roll setting to the Oedipus complex, at the time a widely discussed tendency in Freudian psychology. He wasn't saying he wanted to do that to his own mom and dad. He was re-enacting a bit of Greek drama. It was theatre!"
Jim Morrison on The Ed Sullivan Show
On September 17th, 1967, The Doors were invited to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. Moments before they were to go live, Mr. Sullivan requested that Jim change the lyric in Light My Fire from "Girl we couldn’t get much higher" to “Girl we couldn’t get much better”. Jim agreed to the change however, when he performed the song on national tv, he either forgot out of nervousness or completely dismissed the request, and sang the song with its original lyric. The next six shows which had been planned for The Doors to perform were quickly cancelled by Sullivan.
The New Haven Incident
Morrison became the first ever rock artist to be arrested while performing on stage. On December 9, 1967, Morrison was found by a police officer with a girl in a shower stall before his performance at the New Haven Arena, in New Haven Connecticut. The officer told Morrison “To beat it”, to which Morrison replied “Eat it”. Morrison was maced by the officer. The show was delayed while Morrison recovered. Later, halfway through the set, Morrison decided to recount the story to the audience. His version was laden with obscenities and belittled the New Haven police. Morrison was promptly arrested and was taken to the local police station where he was booked on charges of indecency and public obscenity. The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence.
Other Arrests: Age 16, Las Vegas, and The Plane Trip
September 23rd, 1963 Tallahassee, Florida. Jim Morrison was charged with petty larceny, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, and public drunkenness at a football game. Morrison allegedly got rowdy and made fun of the football players. In addition, he stole an umbrella and a helmet from the open window of a police car. The charges were later dropped.
January 28th, 1968. At the Pussycat a’ Go Go in Las Vegas, Morrison was charged with public drunkenness and vagrancy. It was reported that Morrison was smoking a cigarette like a joint which caught the attention of some heavy hitting bouncers. He was in knocked on the head by one of the bouncers and chaos soon followed. Morrison was promptly arrested.
November 9th, 1969, Phoenix, Arizona. Morrison was booked into a city jail for drunk and disorderly conduct and for interfering with flight crew and attendants on a Continental Airlines flight. Jim and his friend Tom Baker were on their way to Phoenix to watch a Rolling Stones concert. Morrison had previously been blacklisted from performing in Phoenix in 1968 after almost causing a riot during one of his shows.
What other controversial situations surround Jim Morrison? Keep reading to find out.