This Day in History (July 29)

Jul 29, 1967: The Doors score their first #1hit with”Light My Fire”

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History.com

By the beginning of 1967, The Doors were well-established members of the Los Angeles music scene. As the house band at the Whiskey a Go Go on the Sunset Strip, they had built a large local following and strong industry buzz, and out on the road, they were fast becoming known as a band that might typically receive third billing, but could blow better-known groups like The Young Rascals and The Grateful Dead off the stage. It would have been poetic if their popular breakthrough had come via their now-classic debut single, “Break On Through,” but that record failed to make the national sales charts despite the efforts of Jim Morrison and his bandmates to fuel the song’s popularity by repeatedly calling in requests for it to local L.A. radio stations. It was the follow-up release from their debut album, The Doors, which would become their first bona fide smash. “Light My Fire,” which earned the top spot in the Billboard Hot 100 on this day in 1967, transformed The Doors from cult favorites of the rock cognoscenti into international pop stars and avatars of the 60s counterculture.

As “Light My Fire” climbed the charts in June and early July, The Doors were out on the East Coast, still plugging away as an opening act (e.g., for Simon and Garfunkel in Forest Hills, Queens) and as sometime-headliners (e.g., in a Greenwich, Connecticut, high-school auditorium). When the group topped the charts in late July, Jim Morrison celebrated by buying his now-famous skintight black-leather suit and beginning to hobnob with the likes of the iconic model/muse Nico at drug-fueled parties held by Andy Warhol.

Attempting to keep Morrison grounded were not only his fellow Doors Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore as well as the professional manager they had hired in part to “babysit” him, but also his longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson, who is quoted in Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman’s Doors biography No One Here Gets Out Alive (1980) as greeting the sight of Jim Morrison preening in front of a mirror at home before a show in the summer of 1967 with, “Oh Jim, are you going to wear the same leather pants again? You never change your clothes. You’re beginning to smell, did you know that?”

In the end, of course, Morrison’s heavy drinking and drug use would lead to increasingly erratic behavior over the next four years and eventually take his life in July 1971. During that period, The Doors would follow up “Light My Fire” with a string of era-defining albums and songs, including “People Are Strange,” “Love Me Two Times” and “The End” in 1967; “Hello, I Love You” and “Touch Me” in 1968; and “L.A. Woman” and “Riders on the Storm” in 1971.

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This Day in History (July 3)

Jul 3, 1969: Brian Jones and Jim Morrison die, two years apart to the day

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History.com

Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones is found dead of an apparent accidental drowning on this day in 1969. Two years later to the day, in 1971, Jim Morrison dies of heart failure in a Paris bathtub.

For all the highly publicized brushes with the law that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would have in the late 1960s, it was the original leader of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones, who was the group’s original bad boy—who lived, in the words of Pete Townshend, “on a higher planet of decadence than anyone I would ever meet.” A gifted musician, Jones helped create the sound of countless classic Stones tracks with his work on guitar, sitar, marimba and other instruments that were then considered exotic for rock and roll. But he also helped create the stereotype of the wasted rock star with his prodigious drug habit and his declining ability to contribute to the Stones’ recordings. “At first Brian was the most interesting Stone,” John Lennon recalled in a 1970 interview, “[but] he was one of them guys that disintegrated in front of you.”

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Unable to show up for recording sessions due to his drug habit, and unable to play properly on the occasions that he did, Brian Jones was also refused an entry visa to the United States in the spring of 1969 due to his recent drug conviction, upsetting plans for a fall tour of the States. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards fired him on June 8, and a little more than three weeks later, the 27-year-old Jones was found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at his home in Sussex. Rumors of foul play would persist for years among fans and conspiracy buffs, but the coroner’s official ruling was “Death by misadventure,” on July 3, 1969.

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Two years later to the day, another 27-year-old rock star would die under uncertain circumstances: Jim Morrison. As the charismatic frontman of the iconic 1960s group The Doors, Jim Morrison created a template that charismatic frontmen are still emulating nearly half a century later. Young, good-looking and clad in skintight black leather pants, the Lizard King mesmerized a generation with his stage presence and his lyrics about funeral pyres and mystic heated wine. But the trippy mix of Nietzsche, Blake and Huxley that the young Dionysius peddled was usually filtered through heavy doses of bourbon and mescaline, or some other combination of alcohol and drugs.

While the precise circumstances of Morrison’s death on July 3, 1971, are fuzzy enough to have fueled persistent rumors that he is still alive, what is known for certain is that he was found dead in the bathtub of the Paris apartment he was sharing with longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson. Because no evidence of foul play was found at the scene, and because Courson told French authorities that Morrison had not been using drugs, no autopsy was conducted, and “heart failure” was cited as the cause of death. In the years since his untimely death, Morrison’s most prominent biographers, Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, have asserted that Morrison suffered an accidental heroin overdose that night, basing their claim on Courson’s allegation that he was in fact using drugs sometime before her own death by overdose in 1974 .

This Day in History (March 5)

Mar 5, 1969: Jim Morrison is charged with lewd behavior at a Miami concert

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Article taken from History.com

The Dade County Sheriff’s Office issues an arrest warrant for Doors’ lead singer Jim Morrison. He is charged with a single felony count and three misdemeanors for his stage antics at a Miami concert a few days earlier.

When Morrison first got word of the charges for lewd and lascivious behavior, indecent exposure, profanity, and drunkenness, he thought it was a practical joke. But he soon learned that Miami authorities were entirely serious. In fact, they later added an additional charge, simulated oral copulation on guitarist Robbie Krieger during the concert.

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The trial did not begin until September 1970, when the prosecution trotted out witnesses who claimed to be shocked at the scene they had witnessed at the Doors concert. However, virtually every witness was somehow connected to the police or the district attorney’s office. There was some question as to whether the popular singer had ever actually exposed himself on stage. But there was little doubt that he was so drunk that he had been able to do little more than mumble during the show. Morrison turned down a plea bargain arrangement where the band would play a free concert in Miami.

This turned out to be a mistake as he was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine. Morrison died in Paris before he could serve the sentence. Twenty years later, Dade County, Florida, once again placed itself in the middle of rock concert controversy when they prosecuted 2 Live Crew for alleged obscenity on stage.

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In December 2010, Jim Morrison received a posthumous pardon by the state of Florida, thanks in part to the efforts of outgoing governor Charlie Crist, who cited lingering doubts about the singer’s actions.

Source: History.com