Jim Morrison and The Doors remain one of the most enduring enigmas of American Rock N’ Roll. The band that met in film school and called the streets of Venice their home, opened “the doors” to a psychedelic Rock N’ Roll discography that has planted and blossomed millions of fans around the world. And yet, there is still so much that has been overlooked, especially for what the city of Los Angeles meant for Jim Morrison.
Although Jim wasn’t born in the city of angels, he did what so many inspired individuals have done. Born in Florida, he heard the creative call of LA and packed his bags. And when he was here, he made the most of it. But what did the front man do when trying to relax? What did he drink? Who did he love? How did the city of Los Angeles affect his spirit? These are questions we can best obtain from taking a look at where the rockstar poet hung about. As we all know Jim Morrison was taken from us entirely too soon. His absence is felt as powerful as was his presence. So at SommTable we are humbled to relive the life of the man, the myth and the legend that is Jim Morrison.
It is to no surprise with lyrics liie, “Show me the way to the next whisky bar, oh don’t ask why!” Jim Morrison was a fan of Whisky. However plenty of debate remains on whether it was scotch or bourbon. What is known for sure, is the frontman for the band wasn’t very picky, while some have said he preferred Jack Daniel and Chivas.
Jim Morrison was also famously known to commonly order a beer and chili soup for breakfast, for as he put it, it was to line his stomach. The front man was notoriously seen as a local at the Rock and Roll Circus, now the acclaimed Whisky A go-Go. It was his favorite drinking spot and a venue where he and The Doors would play. Also in Los Angeles, he was known to frequent the Palms Bar, Chateau Marmont, Troubadour and a strip club named Phone Booth. While the Sunset strip has changed a lot over the years, our fascination with Jim has not.
Jim Morrison was a particular man. He was known to forgo hanging out with celebrities typically expected with a Rock N’ Roll star, and preferred rather the company of poets, philosophers, photographers and artists.
One of his most famous get-aways was Jim Morrison’s cave in Malibu, California. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to make the trek to the cave before law enforcement filled up the small opening in the rock one would climb through to get into the cave. A cave covered by the work of artists and vandals alike. In the interior of the cave was a skulled carved deep into the rock. It is believed Morrison carved the skull himself, and that the retreat was not in-fact a place where he partook in psychedelics, but rather a place he went to get away from the glamour and glitz and pressures of Hollywood.
Jim Morrison was an incredibly influential human being, so much so that every where he lived has now been endowed with the moniker of “the place Jim Morison lived.” The house in Venice where Jim met Ray Manzarek, 14 Westminster Ave, has now been renamed the Morrison Apartments. Still standing, the City of Venice asks you to please do not disturb the current tenants.
Jim would also go on to write the song “Love Street” named after his street off of Laurel Canyon Blvd, where he lived with Pamela Courson – his girlfriend. However, Pamela was known to kick Jim out often, whereupon Jim stayed in room 32 at the Alta Cienega Motel. He often spent his nights at the nearby Barney’s Beanery and would stay at the motel after long days of recording L.A. Woman at their office and recording studio off Santa Monica Blvd. Jim’s last home before going to Paris where he would ultimately spend his final days, was in West Hollywood. Again, he lived with Pamela at a private residence that is still standing to this day. When Jim went to Paris, he showed his particular nature once again. During his final months in the French capital, Jim was determined to visit all the places frequented by Hemingway, Miller and Baudelaire. He also went out of his way to stay in the hotel where Oscar Wilde had died. Poetry can often be the unsung preamble to such devices of destruction.
While we grow more to learn about the man Jim Morrison was, it is never an easy task to understand someone’s pain. Jim was an incredible artist, musician and poet who contributed more to the world in his 27 years than most people do in their lifetime. It is of no grievance to remember the beautiful and valuable contributions Jim made to the world. However, it seems there are some stories to suggest Jim was on a train headed entirely to fast for the curve.
Jim was quoted in his poetic nature: “Being drunk is a good disguise.” He said. “It means I can talk to assholes.” However Jim would not leave a legacy far from the people his disguise was supposed to evade. In a famous story,“Jimbo” the drunk persona his bandmates dubbed to him while intoxicated, a mutual friend had the bright idea of introducing the two biggest names in music: Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. The two upon meeting had a connection when sober, but upon Jim becoming Jimbo, he became rude and obnoxious. The tension grew to such a point Joplin when attempting to leave in her car, was grabbed by the hair by Jim, who rattled the hood of her car to talk to her. The story goes Janis hit Jim over the head with a bottle of Southern Comfort and knocked him out cold. Apparently, Jim was so intoxicated he had no recollection of the events, saying Janis was an amazing person and was hoping to ask her for her number. Obviously she refused.
By the time the Rock N’ Roll star passed away, he was known to drink 2-3 bottle of whisky a day. As well as easily put down six-beers in a single hour. Jim remains as an example of what can happen when an indulgence in alcohol eclipses a person’s happiness. It would be irresponsible to dismiss the fact that alcohol played a major role in the destruction of Jim Morrison and untimely The Doors. It is exactly our intention to promote a healthy relationship with spirits, and we are disappointed so many Rock N’ Roll legends fell victim to the burdens of alcoholism. Nonetheless, the world collectively says: Rest in Peace Jim Morrison. Your city, your fans, and the world misses you.
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September 15 • Latino Heritage Month
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Jim was quoted in his poetic nature: “Being drunk is a good disguise.” He said. “It means I can talk to assholes.”
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Bertil Tøttenborg, Sommelier at renowned GUSTU Restaurant - The magnificence of Bolivian wines