Words by: Theodora Sutcliffe
In 1971, Jim Morrison joined Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Janis Joplin in the 27 Club. We profile a rock icon.
So who was Jim Morrison?
Poet, singer, rockstar par excellence, Jim Morrison was born in suburban Florida into a military family he would deny as an adult. Creativity brought him to LA, and film school, where he met the guys who would form The Doors with him.
The band took its name from an Aldous Huxley quote about how psychedelic drugs could open "the doors of perception", and their music opened doors for many. By 1971, though, Morrison, a fundamentally quiet, polite loner who raised hell and incited riots on stage and became a very ugly drunk, was exhausted by stardom.
Where did he drink?
During his last months in Paris, Jim went on a quest for the places that Hemingway, Miller and Baudelaire loved: he went out of his way to stay in the hotel where Oscar Wilde died. One favourite drinking spot was the Rock and Roll Circus, now Whisky A Go-Go; in LA, he frequented a strip club called Phone Booth, also the Palms Bar and the Troubadour, as well as Chateau Marmont.
What did he drink?
One Doors track begins "Oh show me the way to the next whiskey bar, Oh don't ask why" and by the time he died Jim was drinking two to three bottles of the amber nectar every single day. He preferred Jack Daniel's and Chivas, but wasn't exactly picky, and also liked his beer.
Any famous drinking buddies?
Most of Jim Morrison's friends were not famous: he favoured writers, poets, photographers, artists and philosophers over rockstars. But he jammed, drunk, with Jimi Hendrix, slept with Nico from the Velvet Underground, and knew most of the icons of his era.
How did drink change his life?
"Being drunk is a good disguise," Morrison once said. "It means I can talk to assholes." Friends, lovers and employees tried hard to persuade him to cut back on the booze, but all gave up: it helped, some argue, to make life bearable for him.
Coupled with weed, nicotine, acid and cocaine, it's amazing that he lived as long as he did. During the last few months of his life, Jim, death-obsessed since childhood, would refer to the deaths of Joplin and Hendrix the year before and say, "You're drinking with number three." As, indeed, they were.
Any drinking stories?
A mutual friend thought Janis Joplin and Jim, then the two biggest stars in rock music, should meet. Sober, they connected: drunk, Morrison became obnoxious and rude, so much so that Joplin got into her car to leave. He staggered over and started to talk to her: she told him to fuck off.
Then he reached into the car and grabbed her by the hair, whereupon she hit him over the head with a bottle of Southern Comfort and knocked him out cold. The next day, Jim remarked on how amazing she was and asked for her phone number. The friend refused.