Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesWitnessed death at age 4Perhaps a childhood incident contributed to Morrison's craziness. He was only four years old when he witnessed a deadly car accident involving a Native American family, referring to it several times in future Doors songs like "Ghost Song" and "Peace Frog." He found witnessing death at such an early age a hugely formative event in his life, which can actually explain a lot about his behavior.
(from left) (AP Photo/ho)
Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesHad a genius-level IQLike many artists that mix smarts with a dash of crazy, Jim Morrison was apparently highly intelligent, having a genius-level I.Q. of 149. You do have to be a little bit crazy to write lines like "There's a killer on the road/his brain is squirming like a toad."
(AP Photo/Florida State University via State Archives of Florida)
Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesFirst arrest came at high school football gameJim wasn't interested in waiting 'til he was a rock star to cause some trouble! His first major arrest came in 1963 after he drunkenly pulled a prank on a high school football team in Tallahassee, Florida.
Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesGot away with public drunkenness on a flightMorrison worked a bit of magic in 1969 when he and travel partner Tom Baker got drunk (of course!) and harassed the female flight attendants on their trip to Phoenix. He could have gotten multiple years in prison if convicted, but the flight attendant suddenly changed her tune and said it wasn't he who was harassing her. Something had to have happened in between these events...
Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesDefied 'Ed Sullivan Show' on national TVKeeping consistent with his aggressively controversial behavior, Morrison sang the word "higher" from the lyrics of "Light My Fire" when The Doors performed the hit song on The Ed Sullivan Show, after the band had agreed not to use that word. He may have just forgotten to change it, but it's more likely he just shoved it in Ed's face. Their remaining Ed Sullivan performances were canceled, but not before that famous first one.
Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesThe New Haven IncidentNew Haven was just one of the cities where Morrison left a permanent mark during his career. While hooking up with a fan backstage, police interrupted and asked them to leave. Morrison refused, and was eventually maced and had to recover before the show started. Then during the concert he went on a profanity-laced tirade on New Haven police, eventually getting dragged off the stage and arrested and sparking a riot among fans. He made "history" as the first rock singer to be arrested in the middle of a live performance. Way to go Jimmy!
Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesMade fan rioting a regular occurrenceThe riot in New Haven was not an isolated incident. Morrison's increasingly erratic behavior (due to alcohol & drug dependence) led to him whipping live crowds into a frenzy. It got particularly crazy at outdoor shows in New York and Chicago. Morrison's drug dependence caught up to him in Britain around the same time, however, when he just passed out on-stage in the middle of a show.
Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesThe Miami IncidentJim Morrison's career 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.
What's 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.
By Dade County Public Safety Department [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesFinal public performanceHere's a shocker: Jim Morrison had another on-stage meltdown during his final public performance with The Doors. He apparently smashed his microphone against the stage over and over again until the floor was destroyed, then just sat there for the rest of the show. Can we be sure he wasn't just trying to fix the microphone?
(AP Photo, File)(AP Photo, File)
Jim Morrison: 10 Crazy True Rock Star StoriesDied a mysterious deathMorrison somehow added even more to his mystique after dying. He passed away in a bathtub in France in 1971, and since medical examiners found no evidence of foul play, an autopsy was never performed. So while it's easy to conjure up some theories on how Morrison died (heart failure, drug overdose, leaving Earth for his home planet), the cause of death will never be definitively known.