James Douglas "Jim" Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) was an American singer, poet and songwriter best remembered as the lead vocalist of the Doors.
Due to his songwriting, baritone voice, wild personality and performances, he is regarded by critics and fans as one of the most iconic and influential frontmen in rock music history, and, due to the dramatic tinges surrounding his life and death, in the latter part of 20th century he was one of popular culture's most rebellious and oft-displayed icons, representing generational gap and youth counterculture.
He was also well known for improvising spoken word poetry passages while the band played live. Morrison was ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time", and number 22 on Classic Rock Magazine's "50 Greatest Singers In Rock". Ray Manzarek said that Morrison "embodied hippie counterculture rebellion..." Morrison was also known as the self-proclaimed "Lizard King" and "King of Orgasmic Rock". Morrison developed an alcohol dependency.
He died at the age of 27 in Paris, allegedly of a heroin overdose. No autopsy was performed, and the exact cause of Morrison's death is still disputed. His grave in Paris is a shrine to him, visited daily by numerous fans. Morrison's early life was the semi-nomadic existence typical of military families. Jerry Hopkins recorded Morrison's brother, Andy, explaining that his parents had determined never to use physical corporal punishment such as spanking on their children.
They instead instilled discipline and levied punishment by the military tradition known as dressing down. This consisted of yelling at and berating the children until they were reduced to tears and acknowledged their failings. Once Morrison graduated from UCLA, he broke off most contact with his family. By the time Morrison's music ascended to the top of the charts (in 1967) he had not been in communication with his family for more than a year and falsely claimed that his parents and siblings were dead (or claiming, as it has been widely misreported, that he was an only child).
This misinformation was published as part of the materials distributed with the Doors' self-titled debut album. Admiral Morrison was not supportive of his son's career choice in music. One day, an acquaintance brought over a record thought to have Jim on the cover. The record was the Doors' self-titled debut. The young man played the record for Morrison's father and family. Upon hearing the record, Morrison's father wrote him a letter telling 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."
In a letter to the Florida Probation and Parole Commission District Office dated October 2, 1970, Morrison's father acknowledged the breakdown in family communications as the result of an argument over his assessment of his son's musical talents. He said he could not blame his son for being reluctant to initiate contact and that he was proud of him nonetheless.
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