The brief but extraordinary career of Doors frontman Jim Morrison is peppered with controversial moments, mostly in live settings with thousands of witnesses. The infamous (legendary?) Miami incident of 1969, however, stands tall above the rest of his shenanigans, and is made almost mythical based on the varying accounts of what actually happened.
April 3 marks the day Morrison surrendered to authorities for the charges brought about by his behavior at the show, the ramifications from which would drag on over the next few years. So what really went down? The best account could be Rolling Stone’s original coverage in 1969, which still has vague accounts from concertgoers (who may not have been sober themselves).
What is known is The Doors were supposed to play a show at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, and that Morrison had spent all day drinking and flying on planes. He stopped singing shortly into the beginning of the band’s set, and continued by yelling obscenities and going on drunken roller-coaster rants about love & hate. Eventually, he began stripping his clothes off, and that was when he allegedly exposed himself to the crowd.
He was arrested and convicted five days after the show for indecent exposure, among other charges, and sentenced to six months in prison with a $500 fine (around $3,200 in today’s money). He died before he could serve his sentence, which just kinda leaves the whole incident hanging over Miami’s coconut grove district and The Doors’ career.
But Miami tried to distance itself from the incident in recent years, offering a full pardon for Morrison back in late 2010. The pardon came because witnesses proved reasonable doubt by saying they never saw Morrison expose himself.
Knowing how crazy the guy was, it’s not too outrageous to believe that he did expose himself to the crowd. The drunken rants and generally volatile behavior were a given, but this incident clearly took it to a new level one way or another. The craziest thing about this story is the fact that it happened almost 50 years ago – and if it happened today it would be just as controversial, if not more. And we’d probably have plenty of video evidence.
Guess you could argue Morrison was ahead of his time in that regard.