Born on December 8th, 1943, in Melbourne, Florida, James Douglas Morrison (later going by Jim Morrison) would grow up to be one of the world’s best known singers and songwriters of his time for his role as the lead vocalist of the 1970s rock band The Doors. Without showing any musical inclinations, Morrison’s childhood life was spent moving around quite often due to his father being in the military. He was an avid reader as a child, and was particularly interested in poetry and philosophy, which would become an influence in his future songs and writings. After transferring from Florida to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Jim enrolled in the university’s film program, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1965.
After graduating from college, Morrison lived on the rooftop of an abandoned building in Venice Beach, leading a bohemian lifestyle. During this time, he wrote many of the lyrics to the early The Doors’ songs. A friend and fellow student he had met in film-school, Ray Manzarek, was impressed with Morrison’s lyrics and saw the potential for a rock band. The pair soon enlisted guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. Morrison was the main lyricist of the group and played no instrument (except occasionally tambourine, harmonica and maracas), but his bandmates also made significant contributions to songs. The band’s name was inspired by the title of a book by Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception.
In 1966, the newly-formed group was the opening act for Irish band Them in their Vegas residency. Them was led by singer Van Morrison, who was an important influence on Jim Morrison’s own stage performances. By November 1966, The Doors had created a promotional film for “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” their first single, which failed to attract attention, but landed the band a deal with record label Elektra. Their single “Light My Fire,” featured on the band’s eponymous debut album, brought them fame on a national level. The band started touring and appearing on TV shows to promote their record, most notably on The Ed Sullivan Show, which had served to give nation-wide exposure to contemporary bands like The Beatles.
The Doors released their second album, Strange Days, in 1967, and had by then become one of the most popular rock bands in the U.S., thanks to their blended sound of blues and psychedelic rock. Morrison became known for the now typical rock star stage presence, as well as introducing leather pants into the stereotypical rockstar persona. Together with the band, Morrison recorded five more albums: Waiting for the Sun (1968), The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970), with L.A. Woman (1971) and An American Prayer (1978) released posthumously. In 1969, following a concert in Miami, Florida, Morrison was arrested for indecent exposure during the show (although witnesses and bandmates later denied that something like that ever happened). He went to trial in September 1970 and was convicted to spend six months in prison, but managed to avoid jail time.
In October 1970, The Doors met again to record L.A. Woman in Los Angeles. Once recordings were done. Morrison traveled to Paris, France, in March 1971 were he intended to stay for a while with his long-time on-off girlfriend, Pamela Courson, who was living in the city. On the morning of July 3, 1971, Morrison was found dead at the age of 27 in the bathtub of the apartment he had been sharing with his girlfriend. The cause of death was ruled as a heart attack. He was interred at the “Poet’s corner” of the Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris. Morrison was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with his bandmates in 1993, and is still considered to this day as one of the greatest lead singers of all time