RUMORS, MYTHS AND URBAN
(by Thomas Lyttle and reprinted from SECRET AND SUPPRESSED: BANNED IDEAS AND HIDDEN HISTORY, edited by Jim Keith).
So much has been written and speculated upon surrounding Jim Morrison's life, death and after-death that it is no longer enough to address just the facts. One must now also address the self-perpetuating myths that has developed and enveloped the facts.
In the late nineteen sixties, Doors' singer Jim Morrison founded a publishing company named Zeppelin Publishing Company with the help of the legal department of Warner Brothers Pictures and Atlantic Records. According to promotions for Zeppelin, "Jim wanted to get his hands on the trademark 'Zeppelin' before Led Zeppelin did. He did this while everyone in America knew who the Doors were, but before the other rock group was well known..." Zeppelin Publishing Company was chartered and put into hibernation for later resurrection.
On July 3, 1971, rock and roll wunderkind James Douglas Morrison was supposedly, reportedly, found dead in a Paris, France apartment he had sub-leased as a writer's studio. His 'wife', Pamela Courson, was the first to discover the body in the bathroom. Jim lay in the bathtub, naked and half-submerged. At first she thought that "Jim was pretending", noticing that he had "recently shaved".
What immediately followed was a series of bizarre and convoluted events, probable conspiracies, strange coincidences and surreal news reports surrounding the death of James Douglas Morrison. Following the death there was a three day news blackout. This was reported on and questioned widely in the media, including articles in The Berkeley Barb, Esquire, the LA Free Press, Sounds, The Baltimore Morning Sun, and many others. Robert Hillburn writing at that time in The LA Times, called his obituary of Morrison "Why Morrison Death News Delay??" igniting a spark that has yet to smolder.
The blackout prevented Morrison's close friends from getting at the principals and witnesses -- and the corpse -- for close inspection. Even Jim's parents and his in-laws were prevented from seeing the corpse.
Pamela had called a local French medical examiner -- Dr. Max Vasille -- to take charge upon finding her husband's body. Dr. Vasille listed the cause of death as "heart failure". Several people viewed the sealed coffin, including Doors manager Bill Siddons, who apparently chose not to view the corpse. Siddons official statement to the press was that "Jim Morrison died of natural causes" and that "the death was peaceful".
Although Jim's death was listed officially as "heart
failure", his personal physician, Dr. Derwin, stated to the press
that "Jim Morrison was in excellent health before travelling to Paris".
This has recently been complicated by "Queen Mu" writing in the avant garde magazine Mondo 2000 (Summer, 1991). Apparently Mondo 2000 surfaced a rare medical file regarding Jim Morrison's various sexual diseases, and the treatments he was undergoing for them. There was mention of "cancer of the penis...". Queen Mu reports:
"... Hey! No one wants to be expunged from the Book of
Life. How many medical workers at UCLA knew that Jim Morrison was being treated
for gonorrhea in the Fall of 1970? Knew of the biopsy that confirmed adenoma of
penile urethra -- often consequence to repeated gonorrhea? This is a particularly swift form of cancer whose only
alternative may have been radical castration..." -- Queen Mu, pp. 131
No autopsy was performed on Jim Morrison's corpse, as is the usual custom in unusual or suspect deaths in France. Had friends been able to at least see the corpse this might have been done.
According to several reports, a Morrison confidant Alan Ronay also helped maintain the blackout surrounding the death. Jim Morrison's body was quickly whisked away to be buried at Pere Lachaise. Pere Lachaise is a national French monument and notables like Balzac, Edith Piaf, Moliere, Oscar Wilde and other French countrymen are buried there. Regarding Pere Lachaise: Jim had handpicked the gravesite on several occasions for his impending 'burial'. He had visited the site as late as three days before his 'death'. This is reported in Break On Through and other Morrison biographies.
The media at once showed suspicion regarding Morrison's grave due to the fact that foreigners are rarely buried in a national French monument. Reports like those in the Baltimore Morning Sun questioned how he might have cajoled his way into the cemetary to be buried.
Upon viewing the Pere Lachaise grave site, Doors drummer John Densmore stated: "... the grave is too short!" Doors manager Bill Siddons, when asked about Pere Lachaise, stated: "... how it happened is still not clear to me". He was quoted in Bam!, a rock magazine back in 1981 regarding the controversy. At any rate, Morrison's grave at Pere Lachaise remained unmarked for several months, adding and maintaining a further cloak around the corpse and the evidence.
Only two people saw Jim Morrison's dead body -- his wife Pamela and Dr. Vasille. Dr. Vasille has repeatedly denied interviews and will not answer questions, and Pamela is dead.
The Occult Connection
Besides the "facts" as laid out in countless books,
films, interviews and press reports, there exists also a wild and
surreal assortment of rumors regarding "what really took place". Many of these rumors center in on the occult, black and white magic, Voodoo, magical Christianity and assorted mystical strangenesses.
In J. Prochniky's biography of Morrison, Break On Through, there is this description of Morrison-based occult rumors:
"... even more incredible were theories that Morrison had somehow been "murdered" through "supernatural means". While Jim was fascinated with the occult, it is quite an assumption that a jealous rival or jilted lover could cause his death in a Paris bathtub by stabbing a Voodoo doll or melting down a Doors album while chanting a curse."
"... Another supernatural-based theory is that Morrison's
body had been driven to great extremes by the spirit of the shaman he believed
had entered his body as a child on that New Mexico highway. When this spirit or
a demon its talents to influence the world, it abandoned Jim and left him a
physically wasted and mentally exhausted man
who felt betrayed with no desire to go on..." -- Riordan and Prochniky, pp. 466
Another occult theory exists in No One Hear Gets Out Alive by Sugarman and Hopkins. Regarding Jim's death they state:
"... Other theories abounded in Jim's close circle of
friends. One had him killed when someone plucked out his
eyes with a knife ("to free his soul", as the story had it).Another had a spurned mistress killing him long distance
from New York by Witchcraft..." -- Sugarman and Hopkins, pp. 372
Anthropologist Allison Bailey Kennedy even went so far as totie Morrison in with Orphic mystery cults and the initiatory usesof various spider venoms, which release the "deuende in Gypsy tradition -- the dark soul that burn incandescently like a cicada, immolating itself in fiery passion."
Jim Morrison many times claimed connections to the occult andspecifically Voodoo or Voudun philosophy and magic. It was apart of his "path". The moniker "Mr. Mojo Risin" was an anagram-- a rearrangement of the letters in Jim Morrison. Mojo is a religious term describing shamanic "power icon" or affiliation. The African root Mo refers to the dark or darkness. Mojo is a specific African/Voodoun/Obeah traditional term.
"I think that there are whole regions of images and feelingsthat are rarely given outlet in daily life... when they do comeout, they can take perverse forms" said Morrison circa 1968. Hegoes on to say that "the shaman is the healer, like the Witch-doctor." Morrison reiterates elsewhere that "we must not forget that the snake or the lizard is identified with the unconscious and the forces of evil..." So says the legendary "Lizard King". "The Lizard King" was one of Jim Morrison's occult code names. He was also called "The Exterminating Angel" in occult circles, according to film critic Gene Youngblood and others.
In No One Hear Gets Out Alive authors Hopkins and Sugarman recount Morrison drinking blood with a Witch-initiate. In certain occult traditions, the use of blood combined with certain sexual acts is reginmen, part of a hidden technology for spell casting. This is especially so in the Tantric Vama Marg (left-handed) rites. It is also a part of Western ritual magic, used in groups like La Couleuvre Noir, the Ordo Templi Orientis, Les Ophitis and others, although it is more uncommon than common in occult work. This sort of sorcery is also used in Voodoo/Voudun Petro rites to summon different Loas (gods and goddesses).
Speaking of the Tantra Vama Marg and the Voodoo Petro, there is this description of death mythology pertinent to Jim Morrison's occult beliefs and possibly his practices. At the very least he would have known of these ideas:
"...but the human form is no means just an empty vessal
for the Gods... Rather it is a critical locus where a number of sacred forces
may converge. The players are the basic components of man: the z'etiole,
the gros bon ange and
the ti bon ange, as well as the n'ame of the corpse cadaver. The latter is the body itself, the flesh and the blood. The n'ame is the gift from God and the spirit of the flesh that allows each cell in the body to function. It is the
residual presence of the n'ame for example, that gives form to the corpse long after the clinical "death" of the body. The n'ame, upon the "death" of the body begins to pass slowly into the organisms of the soil... A process that takes 18 months to complete..." -- Davis, pp. 99
Remember, Jim Morrison's grave at Pere Lachait remained unmarked for several months so that no one might disturb the corpse and the surrounding site. The whole event from day one was part of a blackout, remember.
According to Tibetan tradtion, something similar is
believedto exist so far as naming the componants of the soul and the body. The
Vama Marg and especially the Bardo Thodol (the Tibetan Book of the Dead) relate
specific death myths concerning what occurs right after someone dies. Writing in
Psychedelic Monographs and Essays, psychiatrist Dr. Rick Strassman shows that:
"... Another model of birth and death, and transformation in which the 49 day interval appears is in the Bardo Thodol... This is the time when the life forces of the deceased -- the energetic tendencies accumulated during
"life", "decide on" or gravitate towards or coalesce aroundthe next incarnate form..." -- Strassman, pp. 182
Rock writer Greg Shaw, writing in Bam! and Mojo Navigator interpreted Morrison's song The End along these lines also, stating that each line in the song is a direct quote from the Bardo Thodol. It all "makes perfect sense, if one is familiar with the mystical background," said Shaw.
What are the implications for these ideas in light of the supposed "death" of Jim Morrison? At clinical death, according to the above, the person actually splits up into his or her true parts, formerly connected into a whole being.
According to occult lore, it is possible to ensnare or trap parts of the personality or spirit during this transition. Wade Davis, author of The Serpent and the Rainbow and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie, has this to say:
"During initiation, for example the ti bon ange may be
extracted from the body and housed in a clay jar called a
canari. A canari is a clay jar that has been placed at the inner sanctuary of the hounfour (ritual house)."
"... During the stages directly following the physical death and the first stages of after-death the ti bon ange is extremely vulnerable... Only when it is liberated from the flesh... is it relatively safe..." -- Davis, pp. 102
Is it Jim Morrison's ti bon ange that is at the root of all these occult rumors? Was it his ti bon ange that was bought, sold and then collected on that fateful day in Paris when he "died"...?
That canari has a name. It is called Zeppelin Publishing
Company. And the bokor, or Voodoo high priest who cajoled Morrison's ti bon ange
into the canari? He runs a company called the B of A Company (or B of A
Communications), formerly of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and now of Fort Lauderdale,
Florida. He owns
an active passport and IDs under the name of James Douglas Morrison and claims to actually be the no-so-dead rock star!
Apparitions and Appearances After the "Death"
In the first two years after Jim Morrison's "death" in Paris, many sightings of the rock star were reported. These sightings range from the totally spurious and ridiculous to the reliable and very hard to shake.
The LA Free Press and several wire service reports
describedsomeone in 1973 appearing on several occasions in San Francisco.There
Morrison was involved with business and banking transactions with the Bank of
America of San Francisco. The employee that handled the transactions, Walt
Fleischer, confirmed that someone resembling Morrison and using that name was
indeed doing business at the Bank of America. He did add that he "was
far from sure that this was the 'dead' artist" as Morrison showedno identification. Could this be because a photo ID was already on file at the bank, with the name James Douglas Morrison? Yes, it is still on file.
According to authors Riordan and Prochniky, Morrison was also seen on several occasions hanging out in "unpleasant places" in Los Angeles and wearing Morrison's leather garb, all in black. This was over a period of two years right after the Paris "death". I researched this a bit further and found out that the "unpleasant places" meant notorious gay leather bars, and the underground gay community in Los Angeles.
There were also many rumors that Morrison was also appearing regularly in Louisiana and had made several radio interviews. Again, Prochniky and Riordan reveal that:
"... At an obscure radio station in the Midwest Jim
supposedly showed up in the dead of night and did a lengthy
interview that explained it all... After the interview he vanished into the darkness again. As you might guess, no recordings of the interview exist and no reliable source remembers hearing the broadcast..."
An LP record called Phantom's Divine Comedy was released alsoin 1974. This was rumored to be Jim Morrison singing with an anonymous band with the names of "drummer X, bassist Y, and keyboardist Z". The music reportedly resembled Jim Morrison's sound quite well. All this again added and sparked the rumor mills, and stirred public fascination.
However, in a 1992 press released from the Zeppelin group, itis revealed that Morrison pal Iggy Pop was actually doing all the singing and helping the "hoax" along. This added more fuel as to how many people were actually involved in maintaining his "death hoax". Up until the 1992 press release, the record company that had released Phantom had refused to divulge the names on the LP, or the singer's name -- which was indeed Iggy Pop.
Regarding all these rumors, Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek stated: "If there was one guy that would have been capable of staging his own death -- getting a phony death certificate and paying off some French doctor... And putting a hundred and fifty pound sack of sand into a coffin and splitting to some point on this planet -- Africa, who knows where -- it is Jim Morrison who would have been able to pull it off."
Jim Morrison's friend Tom Baker, writing in High Times (June, 1981) had this to say: "I was very tempted to believe the rumors that Jim had faked his own death."
A group of fans actually went so far as to try to get Morrison's dental records, apparently to try to get permission to dig up his body and match the records to the remains. This was immediately blocked both by Morrison's parents and their attorneys -- at least for the time being.
It is known that Jim Morrison had repeatedly planted the seeds which would lead to this sort of speculation -- that he had somehow faked his own death and dropped out into a new identity. At the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1967, Jim started suggesting that he should pull a "death stunt" to bring national press attention onto the band. This was when he came up with the "Mr. Mojo Risin" anagram which would be used after he "split to Africa" and wished to secretly contact friends.
Morrison also told Danny Sugarman and Jerry Hopkins on
more than one occasion that he could see himself "radically changing careers,
reappearing as a suited and neck-tied businessman." Jac Holzman's assistant
Steve Harris even remembers Jim Morrison asking what might happen if he were to
suddenly "die"... how might it affect business, record sales, the press, and
would people believe it? With confidant Mary Francis Werebelow Jim
"entertained long conversations about how the Disciples hadstolen the body of Christ from the crypt, jokingly calling it the"Easter heist," etc."
In a Rolling Stone article for September 17, 1981, author Jerry Hopkins recounts many other Morrison sightings:
"The first one I remember was a beaut... He
surfaced in San Francisco shortly after Morrison's death and began cashing
checks in Morrison's name. He was not writing bad checks, mind you; it was his
money he was spending. It was just that he was dressed as Jim would in his
'leather period', and that he told everyone that he was indeed the
"The telephone operator asked: 'will you accept a long distance collect call from Jim Morrison?' It was an interesting conversation..."
"Our conversations were unsettling. He told me to go to
Paris and dig up the corpse, but that you would need permission from '12
Catholic Bishops' to do it... A visit to his home was more jarring. There
at the end of one room
was a Morrison 'shrine', converted with posters, flowers, religious icons -- the works!" -- Sugarman, pp. 33
Years later, I actually got the chance to visit and interviewthe shrine's owner, who claimed to be Jim Morrison. He told me matter-of-factly details about Hopkins, as well as that other reporters had actually burglarized the shrine in an attempt to get a scoop.
Another surreal sighting involved "Donny" of Baton Roughe, Lousiana. He described Jim Morrison at Morrison's home in 1978. Donny told his friend "Larry" about it, as Larry was trying to break in to the world of rock and roll:
"I remember Larry telling me about the whole wall of one
room lined with books all across it. Every one of the
books were about Satan, or had something to do with him. He also told me about a large chair that looked like a throne, on which this man sat and watched over his nude children running around... I guess that you can probably guess who that kinky old weird man was -- Jim Morrison, The Lizard King!" -- Sugarman, pp. 33
Another person named Rhea (the Greek goddess of fertility) claimed she was living with Jim Morrison in 1979 with their son "Jesse Blue James". She matter-of-factly claimed that Morrison had "evolved into a state of pure energy... And can materialize and dematerilize at will". She and Jim were also in direct telepathic communication and in "electromagnetic synch".
The Intelligence Connection and JM2
Rock icon Jim Morrison's father was an admiral in the United States Navy, privy to intelligence and counterintelligence information. His name is Steve Morrison.
During the first few years surround Jim Morrison's "death" a number of interesting articles surfaced. These cited referencesshowing various intelligence interests either in Morrison's underground activity; his "death" or that intelligence had even masterminded Morrison's death itself! One of the more explicit appeared in the Scandinavian magazine Dagblatte. This article detailed French intelligence efforts to assassinate Jim Morrison in Paris. Author Bernard Wolfe writing The Real Life Death of Jim Morrison for Esquire (June 1972) related the story of:
"Sherry, a Pasadena girl who knew Morrison well: "...I
couldn't make sense out of the stories in the papers.
Suppose he had a heart attack exactly as they reported, is that what he died of? My God, you might as well say that Ernest Hemingway died of "extensive brain damage". If you want to know the cause of Jim's death -- not just the physiology of it -- ask what triggered his heart to stop... And whose finger was on the trigger." -- Wolfe, pp. 106
In the first few years after Morrison's "death" the owner
ofB of A Communications, named James Douglas Morrison, claimed to be operating
as an intelligence agent for a number of domestic and international groups
including the CIA, NSA, Interpol, Swedish Inteligence and others. There are also
connections between James Douglas Morrison and various occult groups with
probable intelligence connections. [Author's note: from here on
the B of A Morrison will be referred to as JM2].
The enclosed plates show several documents implicating him inintelligence circles. JM2 also claims to be the "dead" rock starand former singer for The Doors. The new JM2 dropped the old JM1 rock and roll identity to become a "James Bond" wearing the suit and tie that Morrison predicted when he was with The Doors.
This author has in fact seen what appear to be stacks of
official-looking documents and letters between the CIA, various government
agencies, national news groups like CNN and NBC and JM2, involving what looked
like personal meetings, projects and ephemera. Of special interest is that when
I viewed parts of the files, all the reports had a paper-thin metallic band
affixed to them with colored UPC bar codes. There is no way for me to
authenticate the claims of JM2, but everything looked extremelyoffical and very elaborate.
From about 1972 through 1992 JM2 has left a surreal trail ofpaper and appearances all over the world. These include letters to and from Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards and CIA Director William Colby, through the Washington, DC law firm of Colby, Miller and Hanes.
A courtroom transcript which I have seen implicates the
FBI and CIA in several coverups regarding JM2's intelligence career. These show
that there seems to be a sytematic destruction of files relating to JM2's spy
activities. An enclosed plate also shows JM2's Swedish Intelligence ID card,
obtained from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act. Unfortunately the
only copy I have is obscured in the facial area, but the ID numbers
are intact. Also in my possession are files concerning JM2's rogue financial activities with the Bank of America, and news reports regarding lawsuits by and against JM2 for bank fraud and spionage, which he claims was done under intelligence auspices as part of financial experiments to destabilize foreign currencies and exchange rates.
There also appear to be hundreds if not thousands of
miscellaneous files -- both classified and declassified --
regarding one James Douglas Morrison, dated after his "death" in1971. These also refer to "WBC", a nom de plume of JM2. These look like real letters, documents, and court transcripts involving intelligence circles. These involve the CIA, Danish Intelligence, and others. There is also an active passport and banking IDs under the name James Douglas Morrison.
Is this all for real or is this an elaborate hoax? It is
notthe scope of this work to determine the truth -- or lack of truth-- or the
consequences of such activities. The important thing to note for the sake of
this study is that someone or some group are actively pursuing and setting up a
mass "urban legend" regarding James Morrison. They are painstakingly
documenting it also. Whether this is a hoax or not is not as important as the
fact that a lot of official-looking information is being generated surrounding
the myth and legendry of Jim Morrison, his
life and his supposed "death".
Just why might this be?
Like the "multiple Oswald" theories of Kennedy assassination buffs, there also exist rumors and urban legends describing the "multiple Morrison" theory.
The idea that Jim Morrison was in fact several different
people and actors, or intelligence agents has been going on for some time.
Besides the "Morrison" singing on the Phantom (now shown to be Iggy Pop) there
also exist rumors that a Louisiana banker as well as Richard Tanguay -- a close
friend of Mick Jagger -- perpetuated the hoax. Even High Times ran and old news
story about someone claiming to be Jim Morrison (post 1971) running for governor
of Louisiana! Supposedly Richard Tanguay (related to vaudeville legend Eva
Tanguay) took the Morrisonpersona on, on several occasions, and even sang with
The Doors when they toured Europe with the Rolling Stones. Is this
In fact JM2 has claimed publicly that there have been numerous James Douglas Morrisons, and that they all knew one another and met from time to time to work it all out. The impersonations were part of CIA sociological experiments like Artichoke or MK-ULTRA.
It is impossible to substantiate wild stories like this. But the fact that there are people and groups out there making these claims in a big way and perpetuating "urban legends" about Jim Morrison is a curiosity in itself... And funny, in a dark sort of way.