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04 July 2021

Jim Morrison Honoured By Fans In Paris On 50th Anniversary Of His Death

Jim Morrison Paris Death Anniversary
Photo: dpa picture alliance/Alamy Stock Photo
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Paris on Saturday, 3 July, was the only place to be for die-hard Jim Morrison fans, who were there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the singer’s death at the age of 27.

Rock music lovers from France and across the world came to the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in eastern Paris where The Doors’ frontman is buried. Many brought candles and pictures, and some burned incense sticks near his grave as police watched nearby.

“Jim and The Doors have been heroes of ours since we were kids. It’s an honour to be here and celebrate the 50th anniversary of his death today,” one fan Dutuar Platzek, told Billboard.

The 50-year-old fan made the trip from Halle, Germany with his childhood friend Mathias Barthel. The two had not been back to the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in over 25 years.

Year after year, the place has become a pilgrimage for fans of Morrison, known for his dark lyrics, wavy locks, leather pants, steely gaze and theatrical stage presence. He propelled The Doors to several major hits between 1967 and 1971, including Light My Fire, Hello I Love You, Touch Me and Riders On The Storm.

Another fan, Michelle Campbell was 21 when Morrison died in 1971, living in Texas and studying photography. Her first July 3rd – the anniversary of Morrison’s death – was in 1989. Back then, the grave was unmarked and a fan had crafted a wooden cross.

She’s since moved to Paris and has been coming to Pere-Lachaise almost every year, taking photographs of Morrison’s grave and his fans, many of whom have become friends.

“(It’s like) people sitting around on couches in someone’s apartment, rather than a grave’s, just talking and meeting each other,” she recalled. “It was really lovely …I still come as much as I can because it’s just always so wonderful.”

Born in 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, Morrison was the son of a U.S. Navy officer and moved constantly as a child, growing up in Florida, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico and California.

He said he witnessed the aftermath of a terrible car accident on a Native American reservation as a child, an event that loomed large in his later lyrics and poetry. An avid reader, he was heavily influenced by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the poet Arthur Rimbaud and the surrealist dramatist Antonin Artaud.

In 1965, while living in Los Angeles’ bohemian neighborhood of Venice Beach and frequently taking LSD, he and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, a fellow UCLA film student, founded The Doors. Guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore joined soon after.

Morrison and The Doors would burn brightly, releasing six studio albums: The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting For The Sun, The Soft Parade, Morrison Hotel and LA Woman. Morrison’s dynamic stage presence was on full display during legendary appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and at the Hollywood Bowl.

Morrison made his final album with The Doors, LA. Woman, early in 1971, and moved to Paris soon afterwards. There, on July 3, 1971, he was found dead in the bathtub in the apartment he shared with girlfriend, Pamela Courson. No autopsy was performed and accounts of what caused his death are disputed.

He was one of several influential rock stars – including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones – to die at 27.

His status as a mythic figure for rock fans has never waned. On the 20th anniversary of his death in 1991, the Oliver Stone-directed biopic The Doors was released, starring Val Kilmer as Morrison.

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