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This is The End: The Conflicting Stories Surrounding Jim Morrison’s Passing

Stefan Andrews

Fans may still look for the graveyard of Jim Morrison at the famed Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris where he was laid to rest, and wonder: what really killed their idol? Even after nearly five decades since his death.

The rock icon and frontman of The Doors became a legend after joining the ill-fortuned 27 Club.

Just like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and more recently Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison’s life stopped at the premature age of 27.

Jim Morrison, 1969.

Jim Morrison, 1969.

Congestive heart failure was pronounced as the official cause of death, but since no autopsy of Morrison’s body followed, space has been left for people to speculate if there was something more to the story.

There are also a number of contradicting accounts which tell different versions about what happened within Jim Morrison’s last hours among the living.

A few months before his death on July 3, 1971, Jim Morrison relocated to an apartment in Paris with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson.

Morrison’s apartment in Le Marais, Paris. Photo by Walter Miles CC BY-SA 3.0

Morrison’s apartment in Le Marais, Paris. Photo by Walter Miles CC BY-SA 3.0

The most popular explanation of the rock legend’s death says he and Courson enjoyed the night together and probably also took heroin, a snort too much.

Morrison did not react well to the drug that evening and eventually went for a warm bath, which was supposed to help but didn’t. The man succumbed to heart failure while in his bathtub at the apartment.

Mug shot of Jim Morrison.

Mug shot of Jim Morrison.

Courson called help as soon as she noticed something was terribly wrong, but he was gone before medics arrived on the scene.

An overdose of heroine is generally believed to have induced his heart failure among most explanations of what happened to the singer. Were these really the circumstances that evening? Perhaps.

Jim Morrison performing at Copenhagen in 1968.

Jim Morrison performing at Copenhagen in 1968.

If we listen to Sam Bernett, who managed the Rock and Roll Circus club in Paris where Morrison was a regular, among other guests such as singer Marianne Faithfull, painter Salvador Dali, and film director Roman Polanski. According to Berntt, Morrison passed away in the toilet of this club after overdosing on heroin.

In 1971, Bernett was in his mid-twenties. He delivered his account on the event of Morrison’s death many years later, in a 2007 book entitled The End: Jim Morrison.

Promotional photo of the Doors in late 1966.

Promotional photo of the Doors in late 1966.

Reportedly, the idea to pen a book about it was instilled in him by his wife, following years of being chased by journalists to share more on the matter.

“The flamboyant singer of The Doors, the beautiful California boy, had become an inert lump crumpled in the toilet of a nightclub,” reads Bernett’s book.

Photo of The Doors.

Photo of The Doors.

Bernett had not seen Morrison taking any drug that evening, but he was provided with heroin in the club by two dealers, according to Reuters.

He took it in the men’s toilet where he fell unconscious. The drug dealers, who might have wanted to hush up the details of his death, supposedly carried Morrison from the club to his apartment on 17 Rue Beautreillis. Pamela Courson then found his lifeless body in the bathroom the next morning.

Left to right: Michael Cooper, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Al Vandenberg & Brian Jones; sitting: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Concertgebouw Amsterdam, 1967). Photo by Ben Merk (ANEFO) CC BY-SA 3.0

Left to right: Michael Cooper, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Al Vandenberg & Brian Jones; sitting: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Concertgebouw Amsterdam, 1967). Photo by Ben Merk (ANEFO) CC BY-SA 3.0

If we listen to singer Marianne Faithfull, the finger of blame should be pointed at Jean de Breteuil, a drug dealer and her ex-boyfriend, who supplied Morrison with exceptionally bad heroin at his home.

For years she was also the love interest of Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones. Faithfull became a star during the 1960s after singing “As Tears Go By,” but her popularity declined after dedicating herself to different vices, including heroin.

Jim Morrison’s grave in Pere-Lachaise cemetery, Paris.

Jim Morrison’s grave in Pere-Lachaise cemetery, Paris.

In 1971, Faithful was staying in Paris along with de Breteuil, who personally had told her he needed to check in at Morrison’s place. “I could intuitively feel trouble,” the singer said in 2014, as reported by The Telegraph. “And he went to see Jim Morrison and killed him,” adding, “I mean I’m sure it was an accident.”

According to her, the drug was just too strong.

While these three varying accounts of Jim Morrison’s death have a touch of reality, other quite far-fetched theories have less. Such as those who propose Morrison’s death was a hoax and he continued to live either in New York City or in Oregon under a newly-adopted identity or those who say the CIA had a part in it in order to get rid of another popular youth leader.

The versions provided by Sam Bernett and Marianne Faithfull may hold pieces of truth, nevertheless. And especially Bernett’s story seems to contradict the most accepted account of the tragic death event. Can we really know who is telling the truth? Most of the key players in this drama are also dead now.

Read another story from us: Hit the Road Jack! The Undercover Drug Arrest of Ray Charles

The dealer mentioned by Faithfull died less than a year after Morrison’s death. Courson died due to an overdose too, in 1974. To no end of Jim Morrison’s death mystery.