He was “The Lizard King,” and he could do anything.
Jim Morrison was a true poet in the music industry, and it’s debatable whether he belonged in that environment. Morrison was best known for his time as lead vocalist with Los Angeles rock band, The Doors, alongside keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. The Doors were considered kings of the acid rock genre with their dark and revolutionary sound of the late 1960s. In 1993, Rolling Stone magazine even ranked them 41st on the list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”
Some of their most successful albums include the 1967 self-titled album “The Doors” as well as “Strange Days,” which was also released in 1967. The 1971 studio album “L.A. Woman” was the last to feature Morrison before his untimely demise three months prior to the release. The Doors explored deep roots of blues and psychedelia subculture, especially within songs like “Light My Fire” and “The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat).”
SUNY Plattsburgh graduate Angela Weller first listened to The Doors back in middle school, after watching Oliver Stone’s 1991 homage and biographical film “The Doors,” starring Val Kilmer.
“Jim’s onstage persona is just complete anarchy and I love it,” Weller said. “He’s just an insane person.”
His alcoholism, drug frenzy, nomadic mindset and chaos were a lethal combination, which made him a real rock and roll stereotype.
Weller is also familiar with Morrison’s softer side — his poetry. His words still have a way of turning people upside down and inside out to this day. This is also reflected in The Doors’ music.
Though Plattsburgh resident Allen Canepa respects their work, he feels as though Morrison and The Doors were praised much more than they should have been.
“He’s an idol and the band is the first taste of weird rock and roll for most people,” Canepa said.
“They hang on to an ideal of The Doors being better than they were.”
Music sounding good and music resonating with someone are two entirely different perspectives. Listeners like Canepa long for songs that they relate emotionally. For him, The Doors feel empty.
However, “Roadhouse Blues” from the 1970 studio album, “Morrison Hotel,” is one Doors tune that is memorable for Canepa.
“It has heart and soul,” Canepa said. “They had the chance to shine.”
If anything, Morrison was a star that burned too bright and didn’t truly share the limelight while he was alive. Morrison was the lead of the band and his bandmates were rarely recognized.
“Being a lyricist is cool,” Canepa said. “But who’s actually making the music?”
Morrison had a short run in this world. After recording “L.A. Woman,” Morrison took time off from making music to go be with girlfriend Pamela Courson in Paris. In July 1971, she found him dead in the bathtub in their apartment at 6 a.m. His official cause of death is listed as heart failure; however, rumors still circulate, as an autopsy was never performed on him and Courson’s story kept changing. The mystery remains.
This led to his unfortunate membership in the infamous 27 Club, a group of musicians who have all passed away at the age of 27. Other icons in the 27 Club include Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse.
Morrison’s defiant soul leaves behind quite the legacy. His prose was a powerhouse in a generation undergoing vast amounts of societal change.