PARIS — For die-hard, Tribute To Jim Morrison fans, Paris was the only place to be on Saturday.
Rock music fans from all around the world flocked to the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in eastern Paris, where The Doors’ leader is buried, fifty years after his death at the age of 27. As police stood nearby, several brought candles and photographs, and some burnt incense sticks at his grave.
“We’ve admired Jim and The Doors since we were children. “It’s an honor to be here today to commemorate his death on the 50th anniversary of his death,” Dutuar Platzek remarked.
The 50-year-old enthusiast traveled with his boyhood buddy Mathias Barthel from Halle, Germany. They hadn’t visited the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in almost a quarter-century.
Fans of Morrison, who are famed for his dark lyrics, wavy locks, leather trousers, steely glare, and dramatic stage presence, have made the journey year after year. Between 1965 and 1971, he helped The Doors achieve many huge successes, including “Light My Fire,” “Hello, I Love You,” “Touch Me,” and “Riders on the Storm.”
When Morrison died in 1971, Michelle Campbell was 21 years old, living in Texas and studying photography. Her first “July 3rd” occurred in 1989, on the anniversary of Morrison’s death. The tomb was unmarked at the time, and a fan had made a wooden cross.
Since then, she’s relocated to Paris and visits Pere-Lachaise often every year, photographing Morrison’s tomb and his admirers, many of whom she’s become friends with.
She remembered, “It’s like folks lounging about on sofas in someone’s apartment, rather than in a graveyard, just talking and meeting each other.” “It was really beautiful… I continue to come as often as possible since it is always so beautiful.”
Colleen Amblard traveled seven hours from her home in the French Alps, Domancy, to pay her respects. “It’s incredibly emotional to be here, to commemorate Jim Morrison… to demonstrate that he’s not forgotten,” the 21-year-old student told The Associated Press.”
“We recognize his talent and the fact that he was a great individual, a true genius,” she stated.
Amblard, like many other admirers, planned to visit other locations where Morrison spent time while living in Paris, including his flat and the old nightclub where he is said to have died of a heroin overdose.
Morrison, who was born in 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, was the son of a United States Navy officer and grew up in Florida, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, and California.
He claimed that as a youngster, he observed the aftermath of a horrible vehicle accident on a Native American reservation, an incident that loomed big in his subsequent poetry and songs. He was a voracious reader who was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Rimbaud, and Antonin Artaud, the surrealist dramatist.
He and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, a fellow UCLA film student, formed The Doors in 1965 while living in Los Angeles’ bohemian enclave of Venice Beach and regularly using LSD. Soon after, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore joined.
Morrison and The Doors would go on to release the albums “The Doors” and “Strange Days” in 1967, “The Soft Parade” in 1968, and “Morrison Hotel” in 1970, all of which were huge hits. During appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and at the Hollywood Bowl, Morrison’s powerful stage presence was on full show.
The band, however, would shortly disband as Morrison succumbed to drinking. He was detained twice for his on-stage antics, including a concert in Miami when he was found guilty of indecent exposure and obscenity. In 2010, he was granted a posthumous pardon.
Morrison’s final album with The Doors, “L.A. Woman,” was released in 1971, and he went to Paris shortly after.
On July 3, 1971, he was discovered dead in a bathtub there. There was no autopsy done, and stories of what caused his death are contradictory.
For rock fans, his reputation as a mythological character has never diminished. On the 20th anniversary of his death in 1991, Oliver Stone’s biopic “The Doors” was published “Morrison, starring Val Kilmer, was released.