When James Douglas Morrison had a “break on through to the other side,” and became Jim Morison, the frontman of “The Doors,” he quickly transformed himself into one of the most glorified and mystified figures in Rock and Roll history.
An army of fans adored him and the music he wrote. According to Jerry Hopkins, the author of Morrison’s best-known biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive, the popular press wrote of his controversial image in a gothic manner. “Few performers have been so consistently controversial as James Douglas Morrison,” Hopkins wrote for the Rolling Stone back in 1969. The Village Voice described him as ” The first major male sex symbol since James Dean died, and Marlon Brando got a paunch. Dylan is more of a cerebral heartthrob and the Beatles have always been too cute to be deeply sexy. Now along comes Jim Morrison of the Doors.”
In the mid-60s, The Doors, with their blend of dark psychedelic rock and blues, became one of the most popular rock bands in the United States. Even though Morrison enjoyed immense fame and was critically acclaimed by the entire world, there was one particular person who was not exactly a fan – his father.
Classic rock aficionados know that Jim’s father, George Stephen Morrison had an outstanding military career in the United States Navy. He is probably best known for being the commander of the fleet during the Gulf of Tonkin incident, that occurred in August 1964 and led to an escalation of the Vietnam War, which largely defined the international relations in the next decade.
Jim Morrison has been raised a military brat in a typical semi-nomadic existence of military families. Jim’s younger brother, Andrew Morrison, told Jerry Hopkins that rather than physical corporal punishment, James and his brother Andy were disciplined by the military tradition known as dressing down, which consisted of yelling and berating the children until they were completely out of tears and declared their faults.
After graduating from UCLA’s film school, where he befriended Ray Manzarek, the future keyboard player of The Doors, Jim Morrison simply disappeared from his home and cut ties with his parents. Additionally, he sang about killing his father and at one point commented that every member of his family was dead.
Morrison cut off any communication with his family and in a manner of speaking “killed them” maybe because his father was never supportive of his career choice. One day, when an acquaintance of his father saw Jim on the cover of a record, he hastily brought it to Morrison family. When the young man played the record of the Doors’ self-titled debut, Admiral Morrison was more than indifferent to his son’s singing and vowed to stop immediately what he saw as a disgrace.
He wrote a letter to his son, urging him “to give up any idea of singing or any connection with a music group because of what I consider to be a complete lack of talent in this direction.” So, it was not a “fan letter” indeed.
Fortunately, this disapproval didn’t affect the Lizard King, who continued writing songs and went on to become one of the most famous singers in the United States.
Ultimately, Morrison’s father did regret his disdainful words and in a letter to the Florida Probation and Parole Commission District Office dated October 2, 1970, acknowledged that Jim shutting off his family was a result of an argument over his appraisal of his son’s musical talents.
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“I have followed his career with a mixture of amazement and, in the case of his performance in Miami, great concern and sorrow. While I obviously am not a judge of modern music, I view his success with pride,” Admiral Morrison wrote. He also pointed out that he could blame his son for being reluctant to initiate contact, but added that he was prepared to assist him in any way should he ask.