It‘s been over thirty years since rock legend and voice of an era, Jim Morrison’s life ended in Paris. Fans gather on every anniversary of his passing around his grave in Père Lachaise cemetery, to pay tribute to The Doors’ legend.
There is usually a strong security presence in and around the cemetery on these occasions, as French police anticipate trouble due to previous anniversaries being marred by a handful of idiots who ruin what should be a respectful moment for other, more sensible fans.
It was around a decade ago that drunken ‘fans’ stormed the cemetery gates when officials attempted to close the cemetery, at closing time in a display of utter contempt and stupidity.
The shrine has been visited by thousands of tourists who come to lay flowers and other tributes on the grave and Morrison shares his final resting place with the likes of such highly esteemed names as Oscar Wilde, Balzac, Bizet, Chopin Édith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein and her Alice B Toklas.
Sadly not every tribute is respectful or intelligently thought out as evidenced by the beer bottles, ready-rolled spliffs, cigarettes and clumsily written tributes, obviously hastily scribed in a moment of drunken melancholia that crudely decorated his grave and are frequently cleaned up by staff at the cemetery. Drinking alcohol and smoking weed does not make someone a kindred spirit of Jim Morrison.
The spectacle appears is as if they were celebrating the lifestyle that killed him, rather than the musician himself; much like putting toy cars on a road accident victim’s grave or wearing a crucifix and expecting Jesus to come back to earth again.
Alcohol has now been banned in the cemetery and since in the last few years the celebrations have been much more civilised.
Jim Morrison and The Doors were the seminal psychedelic 60s group whose sound still continues to conjure up an era of musical, spiritual and sexual decadence that is sadly long gone (just the sex remains), and probably more so than any other band of that era. Morrison’s unique vocals and electrifying sex appeal combined with tousled hair and an animalistic stage presence that did nothing to hamper the band’s success.
His rugged good looks combined with sophisticated lyrics often of social importance and love of classical poetry and literature made him almost irresistible to young women of the era who were just enjoying the freedom of their spirituality and sexuality as if they’d finally been set free of their cages.
Few songs encapsulate an era quite as well as ‘Light My Fire‘, and the swinging, drug dazed, sexually ambiguous sixties explode into life with that unmistakeable keyboard riff.
In 1971 the singer defected to Paris to avoid the increasingly inventive groupies and escape his decadent lifestyle so that he could focus on writing. Very sadly he was found dead in his bathtub three months later, aged just 27. The coroner pronounced a verdict of death by natural courses, despite other rumours of lethal cocktails of drugs, alcohol and asthma.
The Doors are another example of a seminal rock band of the calibre and with the longevity that we no longer see; there is no modern equivalent. Now that computers and surgery have made it easy for anyone to become an artist, model or songwriter, no one is achieving the same levels of creativity with any consistency anymore.