What Jim Morrison would make of 2023 is difficult to ascertain. He struggled enough with the mayhem of the Vietnam war and thus to have had to endure a world in which is now commonplace and omnipresent would have probably driven him in to an institution. His death in 1971 was probably a release for someone who struggled with what the powerful imposed on their fellow species and on the planet more holistically. From The Unknown Soldier to Woman in the Window, Jim wrote about the topics that concerned him and predicted climate change disaster in the latter. He had his major issues but he was also a perceptive, kind and loving human being.

Who was Jim Morrison?

Jim Morrison was much more than just the lead vocalist of The Doors. Born on December 8, 1943, in Melbourne, Florida, Morrison’s life was a tumultuous yet incredibly influential journey that left an indelible mark on music, literature, and pop culture.

From a young age, Morrison exhibited a deep fascination with poetry and literature. He was an avid reader, drawn to the works of philosophers, poets, and mystics, which greatly influenced his lyrical style. This passion for words and their power to evoke emotions and provoke thought would later become the cornerstone of his legacy.

A selection of the philosophers, poets, and mystics that Morrison read widely on include the following:


Friedrich Nietzsche: Morrison was drawn to Nietzsche’s ideas about the human condition, the will to power, and the concept of the Übermensch (Overman). Nietzsche’s emphasis on individualism, the questioning of conventional morality, and the pursuit of personal freedom resonated deeply with Morrison’s own philosophies and artistic expression.

Arthur Rimbaud: Though not a traditional philosopher, Rimbaud’s poetic exploration of the surreal and the symbolic appealed to Morrison’s artistic sensibilities. Rimbaud’s notions of visionary art and his revolutionary approach to language and imagery inspired Morrison’s own poetic endeavors.


William Blake: Morrison found a kindred spirit in Blake’s mystical and visionary poetry. Blake’s exploration of spirituality, the human psyche, and the duality of existence resonated strongly with Morrison’s own fascination with the darker and transcendent aspects of life.

Charles Baudelaire: Baudelaire’s emphasis on the beauty found within the grotesque, his exploration of decadence and ennui, and his themes of urban alienation deeply influenced Morrison’s poetic style. Baudelaire’s work often contemplated the contrasts between pleasure and pain, a dichotomy Morrison frequently explored in his lyrics.


Aleister Crowley: Known for his controversial and esoteric teachings, Crowley’s ideas about magic, mysticism, and the pursuit of spiritual transcendence intrigued Morrison. While not necessarily adopting all of Crowley’s beliefs, Morrison was fascinated by his unconventional approach to spirituality and individual freedom.

Carl Jung: Morrison was interested in Jung’s theories on the collective unconscious, archetypes, and the depths of the human psyche. Jung’s exploration of the shadow self and the interconnectedness of humanity’s psychological experiences informed Morrison’s introspective and often introspection-laden lyrics.

These thinkers and their philosophies provided Morrison with a rich tapestry of ideas to draw from in his quest for self-expression and understanding. He fused their concepts with his own experiences and emotions, creating a unique amalgamation that fuelled the depth and resonance of his music and poetry. Morrison’s exploration of these philosophical, poetic, and mystical realms continues to be a significant part of his legacy, shaping the enduring appeal and enigmatic aura that surrounds his work.

Morrison’s musical journey began when he met Ray Manzarek, a fellow UCLA film student, on Venice Beach in 1965. Their encounter led to the formation of The Doors, a band that would become synonymous with the psychedelic rock movement. Morrison’s magnetic stage presence and poetic lyrics, coupled with the band’s unique sound, catapulted them to fame.

However, Morrison’s life was marked by inner turmoil and a constant battle between creative genius and personal demons. His performances were often unpredictable, characterised by his raw energy and unpredictability. He became known for his enigmatic and charismatic persona, embracing the role of the rebellious, free-spirited poet.

Yet, behind the facade of the rock star, Morrison struggled with substance abuse and the pressures of fame. His excessive lifestyle and erratic behaviour led to numerous legal troubles and strained relationships within the band. Despite these challenges, he continued to channel his emotions into his music and poetry.

Morrison’s lyricism transcended mere entertainment; it delved into the human psyche, exploring themes of love, freedom, and the darker aspects of existence. His ability to blend profound introspection with a rock ‘n’ roll ethos solidified his place as a cultural icon.

Tragically, Jim Morrison’s life was cut short at the age of 27. On July 3, 1971, he was found dead in Paris, leaving behind a legacy that continues to captivate and inspire generations. His mystique and influence endure, his words resonating with audiences across the globe.

Beyond his musical contributions, Morrison’s impact extends into literature, poetry, and the broader landscape of artistic expression. His fearless pursuit of truth, his unapologetic individualism, and his quest for self-discovery remain a powerful source of inspiration for those seeking to challenge societal norms and embrace the complexities of the human experience.

Jim Morrison’s life was a whirlwind, a fusion of artistic brilliance, inner turmoil, and a relentless pursuit of freedom. He left behind a body of work that continues to transcend time, ensuring that his spirit lives on through the immortal words and melodies he gifted to the world.

One of the most famous concerts (that went without issue) is this one from The Hollywood Bowl in 1968

Moving forward we must accept that Jim was an alcoholic. As wonderful as he was when he was sober, he could be very mean when drunk. He could be difficult and do things that had a negative impact on those around him. Having seen alcoholism firsthand, I now appreciate how challenging it must have been for the rest of The Doors and others who were close to him. We must never rub out reality, but confront it. Many poets and artists have had problems with alcohol and other substances. It should not ruin their reputations but it must be accepted as part of their life history.

Jim’s partner, Pamela Courson, died three years after his death of a heroin overdose, and Robby Krieger, The Doors guitarist, experienced heroin addiction in the 1980’s. It is part of the story and, as such, must be told.

Happy 80th anniversary of your birth, Jim.

In my interview with the rock journalist Mick Wall we discuss all things The Doors and much more.

If you or someone you know suffers from drug and alcohol issues and would like to receive support, please find:


Jason Cridland

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