You Say It's Your Birthday: The Doors' Jim Morrison

Today is the birthday of the late Jim Morrison, born

in 1943 in Melbourne, Florida. Morrison was the enigmatic and,

some said, shamanic vocalist for the doom-steeped late '60s blues-rock

band, The Doors. Morrison died in 1971.

The child of a military father, Morrison and his family moved all

over the United States; the young boy coped by making fast

friends and devouring books his teachers had never heard of. In

the early 1960s he left home and moved to Los Angeles,

attending U.C.L.A. as a film student before meeting keyboardist Ray Manzarek

in 1965.

Manzarek and Morrison decided to start a rock band. John Densmore was brought in to

play drums, along with his friend, guitarist Robbie Krieger.

From the group's debut, 1967's The Doors, the band broke

through as a counter-argument to the trippy free love vibe of the late-'60s with lyrics about whiskey, sex and death. It included the #1 hit "Light My Fire" and Morrison's freaky rumination on Oedipus in "The End." Their subsequent albums Strange Days and 1968's Waiting For The Sun, also spawned hits. The latter highlighted Morrison's poetry in a piece called

"Celebration of the Lizard," which was printed on the inside sleeve of the record jacket.

Despite commercial

success, Morrison's persona was beginning to get The Doors in a lot of trouble; in New Haven he was

arrested for public obscenity in 1967, and in 1968 he was nabbed on charges of disorderly conduct on an

airplane. In 1969 he was arrested in Florida for "lewd and lascivious behavior;" a lengthy trial ensued. In

1969 The Doors released their slickest, most elaborately produced and most disappointing album, The Soft Parade.

Morrison began working on several short film projects and continued to write poetry. Some felt the band had

sold out and Morrison's solemn persona began to be mocked by the press. The band released two more

albums, 1970's excellent Morrison Hotel and 1971's brilliant L.A. Woman. After recording the album, Morrison fled to

Paris with his wife Pamela, where he planned to rest and write. He was found dead in his bathtub soon

after; the cause of death was listed as heart failure, but because of the delayed announcement of his death

many people believed Morrison was still alive. In the twenty-five years since his death, a considerable cult

following has grown, including a number of vocalists who have drawn on Morrison's stage presence for

inspiration. Among those influenced by The Doors: X, The Cult, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, Patti Smith.

Two books of Morrison's poetry, Wilderness and The American Night were released

posthumously, and Morrison was the subject of an Oliver Stone film titled The Doors. The band was

inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Other birthdays: Gregg Allman (Allman Brothers Band), Warren Cuccurullo (Frank Zappa/Missing

Persons) and Paul Rutherford (Frankie Goes To Hollywood).