MORRISON MYSTERY - Doors of Deception
Rumors, Myths and Urban Legends
Surrounding the 'Death' of Jim Morrison
by Thomas Lyttle
Reprinted from SECRET AND SUPPRESSED: BANNED IDEAS AND HIDDEN
HISTORY, edited by Jim Keith, $12.95, available from
So much has been written and speculated upon surrounding Jim
Morrison's life, death and after-death that it is no longer
enough to address just the facts. One must now also address the
self-perpetuating mythos that has developed and enveloped the
In the late nineteen sixties, Doors' singer Jim Morrison
founded a publishing company named Zeppelin Publishing Company
with the help of the legal department of Warner Brothers Pictures
and Atlantic Records. According to promotions for Zeppelin, "Jim
wanted to get his hands on the trademark 'Zeppelin' before Led
Zeppelin did. He did this while everyone in America knew who the
Doors were, but before the other rock group was well known..."
Zeppelin Publishing Company was chartered and put into
hibernation for later resurrection.
On July 3, 1971, rock and roll wunderkind James Douglas
Morrison was supposedly, reportedly, found dead in a Paris,
France apartment he had sub-leased as a writer's studio. His
'wife', Pamela Courson, was the first to discover the body in the
bathroom. Jim lay in the bathtub, naked and half-submerged. At
first she thought that "Jim was pretending", noticing that he had
What immediately followed was a series of bizarre and
convoluted events, probable conspiracies, strange coincidences
and surreal news reports surrounding the death of James Douglas
Morrison. Following the death there was a three day news
blackout. This was reported on and questioned widely in the
media, including articles in The Berkeley Barb, Esquire, the LA
Free Press, Sounds, The Baltimore Morning Sun, and many others.
Robert Hillburn writing at that time in The LA Times, called his
obituary of Morrison "Why Morrison Death News Delay??" igniting a
spark that has yet to smolder.
The blackout prevented Morrison's close friends from getting
at the principals and witnesses -- and the corpse -- for close
inspection. Even Jim's parents and his in-laws were prevented
from seeing the corpse.
Pamela had called a local French medical examiner -- Dr. Max
Vasille -- to take charge upon finding her husband's body. Dr.
Vasille listed the cause of death as "heart failure". Several
people viewed the sealed coffin, including Doors manager Bill
Siddons, who apparently chose not to view the corpse. Siddons
official statement to the press was that "Jim Morrison died of
natural causes" and that "the death was peaceful".
Although Jim's death was listed officially as "heart
failure", his personal physician, Dr. Derwin, stated to the press
that "Jim Morrison was in excellent health before travelling to
This has recently been complicated by "Queen Mu" writing in
the avant garde magazine Mondo 2000 (Summer, 1991). Apparently
Mondo 2000 surfaced a rare medical file regarding Jim Morrison's
various sexual diseases, and the treatments he was undergoing for
them. There was mention of "cancer of the penis...". Queen Mu
"... Hey! No one wants to be expunged from the Book of
Life. How many medical workers at UCLA knew that Jim
Morrison was being treated for gonorrhea in the Fall of
1970? Knew of the biopsy that confirmed adenoma of the
penile urethra -- often consequence to repeated gonorrhea?
This is a particularly swift form of cancer whose only
alternative may have been radical castration..."
-- Queen Mu, pp. 131
No autopsy was performed on Jim Morrison's corpse, as is the
usual custom in unusual or suspect deaths in France. Had friends
been able to at least see the corpse this might have been done.
According to several reports, a Morrison confidant Alan Ronay
alos helped maintain the blackout surrounding the death. Jim
Morrison's body was quickly whisked away to be buried at Pere
Lachaise. Pere Lachaise is a national French monument and
notables like Balzac, Edith Piaf, Moliere, Oscar Wilde and other
French countrymen are buried there. Regarding Pere Lachaise: Jim
had handpicked the gravesite on several occasions for his
impending 'burial'. He had visited the site as late as three
days before his 'death'. This is reported in Break On Through
and other Morrison biographies.
The media at once showed suspicion regarding Morrison's grave
due to the fact that foreigners are rarely buried in a national
French monument. Reports like those in the Baltimore Morning Sun
questioned how he might have cajoled his way into the cemetary to
Upon viewing the Pere Lachaise grave site, Doors drummer John
Densmore stated: "... the grave is too short!" Doors manager
Bill Siddons, when asked about Pere Lachaise, stated: "... how it
happened is still not clear to me". He was quoted in Bam!, a
rock magazine back in 1981 regarding the controversy. At any
rate, Morrison's grave at Pere Lachaise remained unmarked for
several months, adding and maintaining a further cloak around the
corpse and the evidence.
Only two people saw Jim Morrison's dead body -- his wife
Pamela and Dr. Vasille. Dr. Vasille has repeatedly denied
interviews and will not answer questions, and Pamela is dead.
The Occult Connection
Besides the "facts" as laid out in countless books, films,
interviews and press reports, there exists also a wild and
surreal assortment of rumors regarding "what really took place".
Many of these rumors center in on the occult, black and white
magick, Voudoo, magical Christianity and assorted mystical
In J. Prochniky's biography of Morrison, Break On Through,
there is this description of Morrison-based occult rumors:
"... even more incredible were theories that Morrison
had somehow been "murdered" through "supernatural means".
While Jim was fascinated with the occult, it is quite an
assumption that a jealous rival or jilted lover could cause
his death in a Paris bathtub by stabbing a Voodoo doll or
melting down a Doors album while chanting a curse."
"... Another supernatural-based theory is that
Morrison's body had been driven to great extremes by the
spirit of the shaman he believed had entered his body as a
child on that New Mexico highway. When this spirit or a
demon its talents to influence the world, it abandoned Jim
and left him a physically wasted and mentally exhausted man
who felt betrayed with no desire to go on..."
-- Riordan and Prochniky, pp. 466
Another occult theory exists in No One Hear Gets Out Alive by
Sugarman and Hopkins. Regarding Jim's death they state:
"... Other theories abounded in Jim's close circle of
friends. One had him killed when someone plucked out his
eyes with a knife ("to free his soul", as the story had it).
Another had a spurned mistress killing him long distance
from New York by Witchcraft..."
-- Sugarman and Hopkins, pp. 372
Anthropologist Allison Bailey Kennedy even went so far as to
tie Morrison in with Orphic mystery cults and the initiatory uses
of various spider venoms, which release the "deuende in Gypsy
tradition -- the dark soul that burn incandescently like a
cicada, immolating itself in fiery passion."
Jim Morrison many times claimed connections to the occult and
specifically Voodoo or Voudun philosophy and magick. It was a
part of his "path". The moniker "Mr. Mojo Risin'" was an anagram
-- a rearrangement of the letters in Jim Morrison. Mojo is a
religious term describing shamanic "power icon" or affiliation.
The African root Mo refers to the dark or darkness. Mojo is a
specific African/Voodoun/Obeah traditional term.
"I think that there are whole regions of images and feelings
that are rarely given outlet in daily life... when they do come
out, they can take perverse forms" said Morrison circa 1968. He
goes on to say that "the shaman is the healer, like the
Witch-doctor." Morrison reiterates elsewhere that "we must not
forget that the snake or the lizard is identified with the
unconscious and the forces of evil..." So says the legendary
"Lizard King". "The Lizard King" was one of Jim Morrison's
occult code names. He was also called "The Exterminating Angel"
in occult circles, according to film critic Gene Youngblood and
In No One Hear Gets Out Alive authors Hopkins and Sugarman
recount Morrison drinking blood with Witch-initiate Ingrid
Thompson. In certain occult traditions, the use of blood
combined with certain sexual acts is reginmen, part of a hidden
technology for spell casting. This is especially so in the
Tantric Vama Marg (left-handed) rites. It is also a part of
Western ritual magic, used in groups like La Couleuvre Noir, the
Ordo Templi Orientis, Les Ophitis and others, although it is more
uncommon than common in occult work. This sort of sorcery is
also used in Voodoo/Voudun Petro rites to summon different Loas
(gods and goddesses).
Speaking of the Tantra Vama Marg and the Voodoo Petro, there
is this description of death mythology pertinent to Jim
Morrison's occult beliefs and possibly his practices. At the
very least he would have known of these ideas:
"...but the human form is no means just an empty vessal
for the Gods... Rather it is a critical locus where a
number of sacred forces may converge. The players are the
basic components of man: the z'etiole, the gros bon ange and
the ti bon ange, as well as the n'ame of the corpse cadaver.
The latter is the body itself, the flesh and the blood. The
n'ame is the gift from God and the spirit of the flesh that
allows each cell in the body to function. It is the
residual presence of the n'ame for example, that gives form
to the corpse long after the clinical "death" of the body.
The n'ame, upon the "death" of the body begins to pass
slowly into the organisms of the soil... A process that
takes 18 months to complete..."
-- Davis, pp. 99
Remember, Jim Morrison's grave at Pere Lachait remained
unmarked for several months so that no one might disturb the
corpse and the surrounding site. The whole event from day one
was part of a blackout, remember.
According to Tibetan tradtion, something similar is believed
to exist so far as naming the componants of the soul and the
body. The Vama Marg and especially the Bardo Thodol (the Tibetan
Book of the Dead) relate specific death myths concerning what
occurs right after someone dies. Writing in Psychedelic
Monographs and Essays, psychiatrist Dr. Rick Strassman shows
"... Another model of birth and death, and
transformation in which the 49 day interval appears is in
the Bardo Thodol... This is the time when the life forces of
the deceased -- the energetic tendencies accumulated during
"life", "decide on" or gravitate towards or coalesce around
the next incarnate form..."
-- Strassman, pp. 182
Rock writer Greg Shaw, writing in Bam! and Mojo Navigator
interpreted Morrison's song The End along these lines also,
stating that each line in the song is a direct quote from the
Bardo Thodol. It all "makes perfect sense, if one is familiar
with the mystical background," said Shaw.
What are the implications for these ideas in light of the
supposed "death" of Jim Morrison? At clinical death, according
to the above, the person actually splits up into his or her true
parts, formerly connected into a whole being.
According to occult lore, it is possible to ensnare or trap
parts of the personality or spirit during this transition. Wade
Davis, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow and Passage of
Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie, has this to
"During initiation, for example the ti bon ange may be
extracted from the body and housed in a clay jar called a
canari. A canari is a clay jar that has been placed at the
inner sanctuary of the hounfour (ritual house)."
"... During the stages directly following the physical
death and the first stages of after-death the ti bon ange is
extremely vulnerable... Only when it is liberated from the
flesh... is it relatively safe..."
-- Davis, pp. 102
Is it Jim Morrison's ti bon ange that is at the root of all
these occult rumors? Was it his ti bon ange that was bought,
sold and then collected on that fateful day in Paris when he
That canari has a name. It is called Zeppelin Publishing
Company. And the bokor, or Voodoo high priest who cajoled
Morrison's ti bon ange into the canari? He runs a company called
the B of A Company (or B of A Communications), formerly of Baton
Rouge, Louisiana, and now of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He owns
an active passport and IDs under the name of James Douglas
Morrison and claims to actually be the no-so-dead rock star!
Apparitions and Appearances After the "Death"
In the first two years after Jim Morrison's "death" in Paris,
many sightings of the rock star were reported. These sightings
range from the totally spurious and ridiculous to the reliable
and very hard to shake.
The LA Free Press and several wire service reports described
someone in 1973 appearing on several occasions in San Francisco.
There Morrison was involved with business and banking
transactions with the Bank of America of San Francisco. The
employee that handled the transactions, Walt Fleischer, confirmed
that someone resembling Morrison and using that name was indeed
doing business at the Bank of America. He did add that he "was
far from sure that this was the 'dead' artist" as Morrison showed
no identification. Could this be because a photo ID was already
on file at the bank, with the name James Douglas Morrison? Yes,
it is still on file.
According to authors Riordan and Prochniky, Morrison was also
seen on several occasions hanging out in "unpleasant places" in
Los Angeles and wearing Morrison's leather garb, all in black.
This was over a period of two years right after the Paris
"death". I researched this a bit further and found out that the
"unpleasant places" meant notorious gay leather bars, and the
underground gay community in Los Angeles.
There were also many rumors that Morrison was also appearing
regularly in Louisiana and had made several radio interviews.
Again, Prochniky and Riordan reveal that:
"... At an obscure radio station in the Midwest Jim
supposedly showed up in the dead of night and did a lengthy
interview that explained it all... After the interview he
vanished into the darkness again. As you might buess, no
recordings of the interview exist and no reliable source
remembers hearing the broadcast..."
An LP record called Phantom's Divine Comedy was released also
in 1974. This was rumored to be Jim Morrison singing with an
anonymous band with the names of "drummer X, bassist Y, and
keyboardist Z". The music reportedly resembled Jim Morrison's
sound quite well. All this again added and sparked the rumor
mills, and stirred public fascination.
However, in a 1992 press released from the Zeppelin group, it
is revealed that Morrison pal Iggy Pop was actually doing all the
singing and helping the "hoax" along. This added more fuel as to
how many people were actually involved in maintaining his "death
hoax". Up until the 1992 press release, the record company that
had released Phantom had refused to divulge the names on the LP,
or the singer's name -- which was indeed Iggy Pop.
Regarding all these rumors, Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek
stated: "If there was one guy that would have been capable of
staging his own death -- getting a phony death certificate and
paying off some French doctor... And putting a hundred and fifty
pound sack of sand into a coffin and splitting to some point on
this planet -- Africa, who knows where -- it is Jim Morrison who
would have been able to pull it off."
Jim Morrison's best friend Tom Baker, writing in High Times
(June, 1981) had this to say: "I was very tempted to believe the
rumors that Jim had faked his own death."
A group of fans actually went so far as to try to get
Morrison's dental records, apparently to try to get permission to
dig up his body and match the records to the remains. This was
immediately blocked both by Morrison's parents and their
attorneys -- at least for the time being.
It is known that Jim Morrison had repeatedly planted the
seeds which would lead to this sort of speculation -- that he had
somehow faked his own death and dropped out into a new identity.
At the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1967, Jim started suggesting
that he should pull a "death stunt" to bring national press
attention onto the band. This was when he came up with the "Mr.
Mojo Risin'" anagram which would be used after he "split to
Africa" and wished to secretly contact friends.
Morrison also told Danny Sugarman and Jerry Hopkins on more
than one occasion that he could see himself "radically changing
careers, reappearing as a suited and neck-tied businessman."
Jack Holzman's assistant Steve Harris even remembers Jim Morrison
asking what might happen if he were to suddenly "die"... how
might it affect business, record sales, the press, and would
people believe it? With confidant Mary Francis Werebelow Jim
"entertained long conversations about how the Disciples had
stolen the body of Christ from the crypt, jokingly calling it the
"Easter heist," etc."
In a Rolling Stone article for September 17, 1981, author
Jerry Hopkins recounts many other Morrison sightings:
"The first one I remember was a beaut... He surfaced
in San Francisco shortly after Morrison's death and began
cashing checks in Morrison's name. He was not writing bad
checks, mind you; it was his money he was spending. It was
just that he was dressed as Jim would in his 'leather
period', and that he told everyone that he was indeed the
"The telephone operator asked: 'will you accept a long
distance collect call from Jim Morrison?' It was an
"Our conversations were unsettling. He told me to go
to Paris and dig up the corpse, but that you would need
permission from '12 Catholic Bishops' to do it... A visit
to his home was more jarring. There at the end of one room
was a Morrison 'shrine', converted with posters, flowers,
religious icons -- the works!"
-- Sugarman, pp. 33
Years later, I actually got the chance to visit and interview
the shrine's owner, who claimed to be Jim Morrison. He told me
matter-of-factly details about Hopkins, as well as that other
reporters had actually burglarized the shrine in an attempt to
get a scoop.
Another surreal sighting involved "Donny" of Baton Roughe,
Lousiana. He described Jim Morrison at Morrison's home in 1978.
Donny told his friend "Larry" about it, as Larry was trying to
break in to the world of rock and roll:
"I remember Larry telling me about the whole wall of
one room lined with books all across it. Every one of the
books were about Satan, or had something to do with him. He
also told me about a large chair that looked like a throne,
on which this man sat and watched over his nude children
running around... I guess that you can probably guess who
that kinky old weird man was -- Jim Morrison, The Lizard
-- Sugarman, pp. 33
Another person named Rhea (the Greek goddess of fertility)
claimed she was living with Jim Morrison in 1979 with their son
"Jesse Blue James". She matter-of-factly claimed that Morrison
had "evolved into a state of pure energy... And can materialize
and dematerilize at will." She and Jim were also in direct
telepathic communication and in "electromagnetic synch".
The Intelligence Connection and JM2
Rock icon Jim Morrison's father was an admiral in the United
States Navy, privy to intelligence and counterintelligence
information. His name is Steven Morrison.
During the first few years surround Jim Morrison's "death" a
number of interesting articles surfaced. These cited references
showing various intelligence interests either in Morrison's
underground activity; his "death" or that intelligence had even
masterminded Morrison's death itself! One of the more explicit
appeared in the Scandinavian magazine Dagblatte. This article
detailed French intelligence efforts to assassinate Jim Morrison
in Paris. Author Bernard Wolfe writing The Real Life Death of
Jim Morrison for Esquire (June 1972) related the story of:
"Sherry, a Pasadena girl who knew Morrison well: "...I
couldn't make sense out of the stories in the papers.
Suppose he had a heart attack exactly as they reported, is
that what he died of? My God, you might as well say that
Ernest Hemingway died of "extensive brain damage". If you
want to know the cause of Jim's death -- not just the
physiology of it -- ask what triggered his heart to stop...
And whose finger was on the trigger."
-- Wolfe, pp. 106
In the first few years after Morrison's "death" the owner of
B of A Communications, named James Douglas Morrison, claimed to
be operating as an intelligence agent for a number of domestic
and international groups including the CIA, NSA, Interpol,
Swedish Inteligence and others. There are also connections
between James Douglas Morrison and various occult groups with
probable intelligence connections. [Author's note: from here on
the B of A Morrison will be referred to as JM2].
The enclosed plates show several documents implicating him in
intelligence circles. JM2 also claims to be the "dead" rock star
and former singer for The Doors. The new JM2 dropped the old JM1
rock and roll identity to become a "James Bond" wearing the suit
and tie that Morrison predicted when he was with The Doors.
This author has in fact seen what appear to be stacks of
official-looking documents and letters between the CIA, various
government agencies, national news groups like CNN and NBC and
JM2, involving what looked like personal meetings, projects and
ephemera. Of special interest is that when I viewed parts of the
files, all the reports had a paper-thin metallic band affixed to
them with colored UPC bar codes. There is no way for me to
authenticate the claims of JM2, but everything looked extremely
offical and very elaborate.
From about 1972 through 1992 JM2 has left a surreal trail of
paper and appearances all over the world. These include letters
to and from Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards and CIA Director
William Colby, through the Washington, DC law firm of Colby,
Miller and Hanes.
A courtroom transcript which I have seen implicates the FBI
and CIA in several coverups regarding JM2's intelligence career.
These show that there seems to be a sytematic destruction of
files relating to JM2's spy activities. An enclosed plate also
shows JM2's Swedish Intelligence ID card, obtained from the FBI
through the Freedom of Information Act. Unfortunately the only
copy I have is obscured in the facial area, but the ID numbers
are intact. Also in my possession are files concerning JM2's
rogue financial activities with the Bank of America, and news
reports regarding lawsuits by and against JM2 for bank fraud and
espionage, which he claims was done under intelligence auspices
as part of financial experiments to destabilize foreign
currencies and exchange rates.
There also appear to be hundreds if not thousands of
miscellaneous files -- both classified and declassified --
regarding one James Douglas Morrison, dated after his "death" in
1971. These also refer to "WBC", a nom de plume of JM2. These
look like real letters, documents, and court transcripts
involving intelligence circles. These involve the CIA, Danish
intelligence, and others. There is also an active passport and
banking IDs under the name James Douglas Morrison.
Is this all for real or is this an elaborate hoax? It is not
the scope of this work to determine the truth -- or lack of truth
-- or the consequences of such activities. The important thing
to note for the sake of this study is that someone or some group
are actively pursuing and setting up a mass "urban legend"
regarding James Morrison. They are painstakingly documenting it
also. Whether this is a hoax or not is not as important as the
fact that a lot of official-looking information is being
generated surrounding the myth and legendry of Jim Morrison, his
life and his supposed "death".
Just why might this be?
Like the "multiple Oswald" theories of Kennedy assassination
buffs, there also exist rumors and urban legends describing the
"multiple Morrison" theory.
The idea that Jim Morrison was in fact several different
people and actors, or intelligence agents has been going on for
some time. Besides the "Morrison" singing on the Phantom (now
shown to be Iggy Pop) there also exist rumors that a Louisiana
banker as well as Richard Tanguay -- a close friend of Mick
Jagger -- perpetuated the hoax. Even High Times ran and old news
story about someone claiming to be Jim Morrison (post 1971)
running for governor of Louisiana! Supposedly Richard Tanguay
(related to vaudeville legend Eva Tanguay) took the Morrison
persona on, on several occasions, and even sang with The Doors
when they toured Europe with the Rolling Stones. Is this
In fact JM2 has claimed publicly that there have been
numerous James Douglas Morrisons, and that they all knew one
another and met from time to time to work it all out. The
impersonations were part of CIA sociological experiments like
Artichoke or MK-ULTRA.
It is impossible to substantiate wild stories like this.
But the fact that there are people and groups out there making
these claims in a big way and perpetuating "urban legends" about
Jim Morrison is a curiosity in itself... And funny, in a dark
sort of way.
What's New with My Subject?
WHEN YOU'RE A STRANGER
Fragrance de CHAOS
Investigative Findings on the Death of
From the book
THE COVERT WAR ON ROCK
THERE IS MENACE UNDER THE MUSIC, BUT SOMETHING IS BEING HELD BACK.
A SENSE OF ANGER, RAGE AND BETRAYAL. BENT OVER THE MIKE, MORRISON,
WHO FOUR DAYS LATER WOULD GIVE HIS LAST CONCERT THEN ABANDON
THE BAND, LEAVING ROCK BEHIND, IS AT HIS PROVOCATIVE, INFLAMMATORY,
CONFRONTATIONAL BEST, REPEATING HIMSELF OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
"ROCK IS DEAD. ROCK IS DEAD. IT'S DYING. IT'S OVER. IT'S OVER.
ROCK N ROLL IS DEAD."
IF NOSTALGIA ISN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE, NEITHER IS ROCK. WEIGHED DOWN
BY ITS OWN MYTHOLOGICAL PAST, TOP-HEAVY BECAUSE OF THE UNNATURAL
LONGEVITY OF TOO MANY BANDS, BLOATED BECAUSE OF THE SIZE OF
THE CORPORATIONS THAT DOMINATE THE INDUSTRY, ROCK MUSIC
HAS ALWAYS BEEN TOO SUCCESSFUL FOR ITS OWN GOOD.
Michael Epis, Australian Critic
Jim Morrison's body was found by Pamela Courson,
Morrison's common-law wife, in the bathtub at their flat
in Paris, France in the early morning hours of July 3rd, 1971 --
exactly two years after the death of Brian Jones. (1)
The New York Times reported, "Jim Morrison, lead singer
of The Doors rock group, died last Saturday in Paris,
his public relations firm said today." The death was
initially attributed to "natural causes", "pneumonia", and
finally (but by no means conclusively) "heart failure". (2)
"Details were withheld pending the return of Mr. Morrison's
agent from France. Funeral services were held in Paris today.
In his black leather jacket and skin-tight vinyl pants,
Jim Morrison personified rock music's image
of superstar as sullen, mystical sexual poet.
The surviving Doors, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and
John Densmore, discussed Morrison's death in an interview
conducted on February 11, 1983 by BBC-2's Robin Denselow
at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Manzarek
recalled his state of denial upon learning of Morrison's death,
and weighed the possibility of political assassination.
Manzarek: We got a phone call. I got a phone call
Saturday morning saying Jim Morrison is dead in Paris ...
Yeah, yeah, yeah ... sure, right. John had talked to
him a couple of weeks beforehand and he's dead.
Q: What about CIA involvement?
Manzarek: Well, I've heard that theory, yeah,
Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix.
Black man, white man, white woman.
You know, the flowering of American
youth in poetry and art and music ...
trying to stop it all. It's conceivable ...
Densmore: There was definitely some political weirdness
at Miami, that (obscenity charge) coming down.
Krieger: And there was an FBI file on Morrison that we
got a hold of, so the government was aware of The Doors ...
Morrison's spontaneous political outbursts in rock press
interviews attracted FBI attention: "I like ideas about the
breaking away or overthrowing of established order,"
he announced. "I am interested in anything about revolt,
disorder, chaos -- especially activity that seems to have
no meaning. It seems to me the road toward freedom --
external revolt is a way to bring about internal freedom." (3)
In another interview, Manzarek considered possible motives
for eliminating the anarchistic Lizard King:
They were going to stop all of rock n roll by stopping The Doors.
As far as Americans were concerned, he was the most dangerous ...
Janis Joplin was just a white woman singing about getting drunk
and laid a lot, and Jimi Hendrix was a black guy singing, "Let's get high".
Morrison was singing "We want the world and we want it now."
There was plenty of hounding.
FBI harrassment, in fact, rendered Morrison so anxiety-ridden
that he contracted an ulcer by his mid-20s -- a condition not
exactly conducive to overthrowing the established order.
"Paranoia" struck deep, and biographers James Riordan and
Jerry Prochnicky confirm that Morrison was a "marked man".
The busts took their toll on Morrison ... By 1970 he was still reeling
from the effects of one federal trial and about to face another.
And the FBI had marked him. It was they who made the charges
in Miami stick ... Morrison was guilty before he was arrested.
But the particular crimes were not the problem. The real issue
was because he was guilty of being Jim Morrison, a larger-than-life
symbol of rebellion to the youth of America, and thereby a threat.
The busts cost Morrison a great deal of money, but more than that
they wore him down and sapped his enthusiasm for life.
"The vice squad would be at the side of the stage with our names
filled in on the warrants, just waiting to write in the offense,"
Manzarek recollected. "Narks to the left, vice squad to the right,
into the valley of death rode the four ... They wanted to stop
Morrison. They wanted to show him that he couldn't get away with it.
Like Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix before him, and many
rock musicians to follow, Morrison was consumed by
"paranoia" as historian Marianne Sinclair observes:
Inevitably, Morrison and the Doors became a focus for attack
and victimization by the conventional forces of society ...
Doors' performances were frequently cancelled at the last minute
through the efforts of local do-gooders, and audiences were regularly
clubbed by policemen during concerts ... This was too much for Morrison,
within whom the forces of destruction had already been long at work.
A heavy user of LSD and an alcoholic who could get drunk at any
time of the day or night on whatever happened to be handy,
Morrison seemed hell-bent on killing himself young. He once
described his drinking as "not suicide, but slow capitulation".
What he was capitulating to was his own need to block out
the sense of frustration, despair and growing paranoia. (6)
Morrison's death was followed by press reports noting federal
interest in Morrison's life, political views and, significantly,
all independent investigations of his death.
Researcher Thomas Lyttle gathered up leads in the international press:
One of the more explicit appeared in the Scandinavian magazine Dagblatte.
This article detailed French intelligence efforts to assassinate Jim Morrison in Paris.
In France, the Documentation Exterieure et De Contre Espionage
(SDECE) performs internal security functions. Under DeGaulle,
it was SDECE's policy to resist and oppos the CIA, with the exception
of a small contingent within the bureau enlisted to collaborate
secretly with Langley. Under Pompidou and d'Estang, the domestic
French intelligence service was ordered to cooperate fully with
US intelligence agents and would have been drawn into any
assassination plans in Paris conceived by the CIA. (8)
SDECE assassins are highly-trained and were certainly capable
of killing Morrison discreetly, leaving no trace of their complicity.
There are precedents. In 1962, an SDECE agent code-named
Laurent rigged the Rome-bound flight of a plane, and Italian
oil millionaire Enrico Mattei died in the crash. The magnate's
offense: a planned take-over of French interests in Algerian
oil. Time magazine reporter William McHale was also
killed. (9) At the behest of their American counterparts in
Virginia, the "murder committee" of de Centre Espionage
was undeniably capable of eliminating a troublesome
rock celebrity and burying the evidence.
Bob Seymore pieced together official documents for The End,
his book on the peculiar circumstances surrounding Morrison's
death, and soon found himself immersed in a sea of contradictions
and unanswered questions. One of the most troubling was his
belief that Pamela Courson withheld evidence, and that friends
Alan Ronay, Agnes Varda and Bill Siddons "know more than they
have revealed in public". Morrison biographer Danny Sugarman
told Seymore that he had government documents through
Freedom of Information Act requests for files pertaining
to Morrison's death. Seymore writes:
I asked if Danny had seen such documents, then why
were there no details of any of them in his book?
He said that Pamela had told him things about Jim's
death that he promised he would never divulge ... (10)
Sugarman is married to indicted Contragate co-conspirator Fawn Hall,
Oliver North's secretary at the National Security Council, who shredded
an 18-inch file of documents linking the Reagan administration to the
diversion of funds from Iran arms sales to the Nicaraguan contras on
November 21, 1986, and quipped before a Congressional committee,
"Sometimes you have to go above the law" (ironic in light of her
admission to the DEA during a federal drug investigation in 1989 that
she "used cocaine many times" in her three years as an NSC staffer) --
and he has concealed evidence that would shed light on Morrison's death.
Why suppress evidence of this significance to the historical record?
Supposedly because Sugarman "promised Pam" he would conceal
and suppress certain facts, as he explained to Seymore.
Danny Sugarman predictably rejects all "conspiracy theories"
out of hand, but he is himself involved in a conspiracy of silence,
ignoring not only official intelligence files but the aforementioned
reports on prior attempts by French intelligence agents to murder
Jim Morrison -- a documented "finger on the trigger", a conspiracy --
and instead stating that Morrison did, per the official verdict,
suffer some sort of cardiopulmonary arrest at the tender age
of 27 in Paris. But when pressed to account for the gaping
discrepancies in the case -- for instance, heart failure causes
anguished thrashing and ordinarily does not leave a smile,
such as the one reported by Courson and the paramedics,
on the victims's face -- Sugarman concedes that Morrison's
death "could have involved a number of factors", and
when cornered by Seymore, reluctantly conceded:
You could say that the CIA and other intelligence agencies
may have had a hand in the deaths of Hendrix, Janis Joplin
and then Morrison. Simply for the reason that they were
the leaders of a generation during the 1960s. (11)
You could also say that Morrison was viewed as an
anarchistic defiler of "restless youth" in some
loops on the Washington Beltway, according
to Sugarman's own best-selling biography:
Jim was certainly popular enough, and more threateningly,
smart enough to cause the powers that be ample reason
to take some sort of action to prevent his subversive influence.
Surely the authorities were wary of him. (12)
THE DOORS OF DECEPTION
How wary? Enough to keep secret files on Morrison.
Enough to spread false rumors to the effect that he had faked
his own death to deflect attention from political assassination.
The "conspiracy", as charted by Sugarman and others, was a hoax
hatched by Morrison to "fake his own death". A book, The Bank
of America of Louisiana, appeared in 1975, supposedly written
by Morrison, the source of the rumor. (13) In No One Here Gets
Out Alive, a sensational history larded with drug-and-sex debauchery,
Sugarman and Hopkins devote an entire chapter to "evidence"
that Morrison had survived Paris and launched a new life
free from the encumbrances of celebrity and the FBI.
The rumor was a deliberate obfuscation conducted by unknown
covert operators. The proper question is "Who killed Morrison?",
not "Is he still alive and working for the Bank of America?"
Author Thomas Lyttle writes:
In the first few years after Morrison's death, the owner of B of A Communications,
named James Douglas Morrison, claimed to be operating as an intelligence agent
for a number of domestic and international groups including the CIA, NSA,
Interpol, Swedish Intelligence and others. There are also connections
between James Douglas Morrison and various occult groups with probably
intelligence connections ... JM2 also claims to be the "dead" rock star
and former singer for The Doors. The new JM2 dropped the old JM1
rock and roll identity to become "James Bond".
The author has in fact seen what appears to be stacks of official-looking
documents and letters between the CIA, various governmental agencies,
national news groups like CNN and NBC and JM2, involving what looked
like personal meetings, projects and ephemera. Of special interest is that when
I viewed parts of the files, all the reports had a paper-thin metallic band affixed
to them with colored UPC bar codes. There is no way for me to authenticate
the claims of JM2, but everything looked extremely official and very elaborate ...
A courtroom transcript which I have seen implicates the FBI and CIA in
several coverups regarding JM2's intelligence career. These show that
there seems to be a systematic destruction of files relating to JM2's
spy activities ... Also in my possession are files concerning JM2's rogue
financial activities with the Bank of America, and news reports regarding
lawsuits by and against JM2 for bank fraud and espionage.
There also appear to be hundreds if not thousands of miscellaneous files ...
These involve the CIA, Danish intelligence, and others. There are also an
active passport and banking IDs under the name of James Douglas Morrison.
Is this all for real or is this an elaborate hoax? ... The important thing
to note for the sake of this study is that someone or some group is
actively pursuing and setting up a mass "urban legend" regarding
James Morrison. They are painstakingly documenting it also.
Whether this is a hoax or not is not as important as the fact
that a lot of official-looking information is being generated
surrounding the muth and legend of Jim Morrison. (14)
Any account of the second Morrison's career (according to
Daniel Brandt's NameBase website, an index of names related
to intelligence activity, the CIA employs one James Douglas Morrison,
an active agent stationed in France) would be incomplete without the
names of the Morrison double's Agency contacts, particularly William
Colby, a CIA director under Richard Nixon. Since 1972, Morrison's
double has left a surreal international trail of paper. The documents
include letters to and from Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards and
late CIA director William Colby, through the Washington, DC
law firm of Colby, Miller and Hanes.
The day before his death, the original Jim Morrison sent a telegram
to Jonathan Dolger, a publishing contact in New York, about changing
the cover of a book of poetry written by the Door. Bob Seymore, trying
to piece together Morrison's final days in Paris, phoned Dolger
and discovered that someone else was interested in that telegram:
"Oh, my God," (Dolger) said. It was as though he had been woken up from an
old nightmare. I asked him about the telegram but he said that he no longer
had it. At first he thought maybe his former employers had it in their files ...
Then he realized that a man whose name he had forgotten contacted him to
ask if he could have the telegram Jim sent. This was a month after Jim died
and the person said he was with Jim when he died ... (15)
There are a score of unknowns to resolve before writing
Morrison off as a crazed narco-rocker bent on self-destruction:
* The cause of Jim Morrison's death was an unspecified "heart failure",
so states the forensic examiner's report, not an "attack" or "seizure".
The heart failed, quit. Dr. Vasille noted "a little blood round the
nostrils", indicating a hemorrhage, inconsistent with heart failure.
Paramedics from the local Fire Brigade reported that Morrison
was still smiling when they arrived, also not consistent
with the officially-stated cause of death.
* Dr. Derwin, the singer's personal physician, told representatives
of the media industry: "Jim Morrison was in excellent health before
traveling to Paris." (16) Pam Courson, the last person to see him alive,
wrote in her signed statement to Paris police that the night before
his death, Morrison "looked in good health, he seemed very happy". (17)
* No autopsy was performed -- a probable violation of
French law and certain violation of French custom.
* Two persons could answer questions about the odd death:
Ms. Courson died of "apparent overdose" herself on April 24, 1974 --
a few days before a judge would have ruled in her favor concerning
a dispute over the distribution of the Morrison inheritance,
a decision that would have brought her, as Morrison's common-
law wife and sole heir, a quarter of the Doors' income and an
immediate payment of half a million dollars (18) -- and
Dr. Max Vassille, the medical examiner, consistently turns
down all interviews related to Morrison's death.
* Pamela's friends, James Riordan reports in Break on Through,
believe she was murdered: some "suspect foul play, saying that
although Pam had been using heroin, she could not shoot herself up.
She always had to have someone else do it. Whoever did it, they claim,
knew he or she was injecting her with a lethal (dose),", a "hot-shot". (20)
Jim Morrison died in a bathtub, this much is certain
based on the statements of Courson, friends of Morrison
close to the case, and Paris officials.
Dr. Vassille estimated the time of death to be 5:00 AM.
Paramedics arrived at the flat at exactly 9:24 AM, an
interval of nearly four and a half hours, but the bath water,
they reported, was still "lukewarm". So Morrison probably
died two-three hours later than the death certificate claims.
This would place the time of death closer to 7-8 AM.
Pamela Courson told police that Morrison had choked in his sleep,
that she shook him awake. He was in wretched condition and
told her that a bath might make him feel better. This was roughly
2:30 in the morning. Courson told police that she fell asleep and
awoke to discover the body in the bathtub at about 5AM. The timeline
revised by water temperature leads to the inescapable conclusion
that he was alive after the estimated time of death.
The statements of witnesses and officials clash, and this often
happens when fear or coercion forces them to fabricate cover stories.
It's entirely possible that Courson was threatened, or feared to implicate
others, and this is why Sugarman mumbles that she and all close to the
case "knew more about Morrison's death" than they ever revealed --
exactly as witnesses to the murder of Brian Jones did under duress
for thirty years. Dr. Vassille may have been forced by Pamela Courson's
statements to find the time of death at 5AM. This and his refusal to talk
to the press suggest that the medical examiner was also under pressure --
orders from superiors, threats to himself or his family --
and suppressed information regarding Morrison's death.
What were they concealing? Patricia Keneally believes that her
husband-by-pagan-ceremony overdosed on heroin. She sides with
the late Albert Goldman on this particular point, although in
general she steadfastly rejects the "noxious lie-o-rama" allegations
that "Albert Golddigger" made concerning the deceased Door.
Dr. John Morgan has written more than 100 articles and books on
clinical pharmacology, and "declares Jim to have quite likely died,
in his opinion, of a prolonged heroin overdose, an overdose drawn
out into respiratory depression over several hours because Jim
did not shoot the smack but snorted it," Keneally wrote in 1997.
Other medical specialists consulted by her agreed with this diagnosis,
finding "nasal or esophageal varices as the likely cause of Jim's
reported profuse bleeding". Dr Morgan: "Pam's versions certainly
indicate that he was snorting heroin. A nasal or oral dose would
delay the decline into respiratory death." The OD was gradual and
evidently not traumatic, to judge by the smile on his face when found.
The consensus among most investigative reporters, medical consultants,
and Morrison's circle of friends is also that he overdosed on heroin.
Pamela's closest friend at the time of Morrison's death, Diane Gardiner,
told biographer James Riordan that Courson had "confessed" to her.
Courson "told me a lot about Jim's death. It's true that he got
into some of Pam's drugs and overdosed." (22)
Pamela told Gardiner * that Morrison -- who mortally feared the
narcotic after the death of Janis Joplin and ordinarily avoided it --
was deeply depressed and intended to numb the pain by helping
himself to her provisions: "She started telling me something about
Jim's death being her fault and that he had found out she was doing
heroin, and 'You know Jim, of course he wanted to try it.' Then she
looked at me and said, 'It was my stash -- Jim didn't know how to
score. He knew how to drink.' She said that later he didn't feel well
and decided to take a bath and she nodded out. But when I pressed
her for details, she suddenly denied the whole thing." (23)
A similar account was told by Alan Ronay, a friend of Jim Morrison's
since UCLA film school, one of the last to see the rocker alive.
Ronay told a reporter for Paris Match in 1991 that Morrison was
still alive when Pam awoke and found him in the bath, a version
that conforms to the revised timeline. Ronay said that Pamela pulled
him aside after the medical examiners arrived and confided that Morrison
had been snorting heroin for 48 hours when she and Morrison fell asleep
listening to the first Doors LP. He was choking in his sleep and struggling
for air, and she woke him up and helped him to the bath. She fell asleep
and woke up again to find that he hadn't returned to bed, discovering
him bleeding from the nose and vomiting blood into a pot. Then he told
her that he felt better and she should go back to bed. He died shortly
thereafter. Pamela told Ronay, "Jim looked so calm. He was smiling." (24)
Did he ingest poisoned opiate or a "hot shot"? If the posthumous
revelations are correct, Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson were both
killed by lethal doses of heroin. The absence of an autopsy report
precludes any attempt to determine the true cause of Morrison's death,
and some of the troubling questions raised here may never be resolved
completely if Danny Sugarman, the CIA rumor mongers, and an indifferent
press have their way, which raises one more pertinent question:
What's it to them?
(1) Laura Jackson, "Golden Stone: The Untold Life and Tragic Death
of Brian Jones", New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992, pg. 214.
Jackson places the exact time of death sometime between
1130 on July 2 and midnight on July 3, the official date.
(2) Doctor Max Vassille, forensic doctor, stated in his medical report
that Morrison's death was "natural due to heart failure" --
Bob Seymore, "The End: The Death of Jim Morrison"
London, Omnibus Press, 1991, pp. 61, 63
(3) Quoted in the original Elektra Records bio release, 1967
(4) James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky,
"Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison"
New York: William Morrow, 1991, pg. 375
(5) Riordan Prochnicky, pg 376
(6) Marianne Sinclair, "Those Who Died Young"
Longdon: Plexus Publishing, 1979
(7) Thomas Lyttle, Rumors, Myths, and Urban Legends
Surrounding the Death of Jim Morrison, in "Secret and Supressed"
Jim Keith, editor, Portland: Feral House, 1993, pg 117
(8) Henrik Kruger, "The Great Heroin Coup: Drugs, Intelligence,
and International Fascism", Boston: South End Press, 1980, pg 49
(9) Kruger, pg 47
(10) Seymore, pg 44, 78
(12) Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman,
No One Here Gets Out Alive,
New York: Warner, 1981, pg 372
(13) Jim Morrison, The Bank of America of Louisiana,
(no city listed): Zeppelin Publishing Corp, 1975
(14) Lyttle, pg 117-18. The impersonations, Lyttle explains,
"were part of sociological experiments like Artichoke or MKULTRA"
(pg 119), CIA mind control projects of the 1950s
(15) Seymore, pg 77
(17) Seymore, pg 56
(18) Hopkins / Sugarman, pg 376-77
Also, Pamela Des Barres, "Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon",
New York: St. Martin's, 1996, pg 211
(19) Seymore, pg 77
(20) Riordan and Prochnicky, pg 484
(21) Patricia Keneally, "An Open Letter to Jim's Fans",
(22) Riordan / Prochnicky, pg 458
(24) Des Barres, pg 211