Jim Morrison, seen in 1968, was an enigma in the eyes of his strait-laced parents. (Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images)

How Jim Morrison’s father changed his mind about his son the Lizard King

Jim Morrison, Lizard King of Venice Beach, represented an outburst of individualism not only across society, but within his own family. His father, George Morrison, a Navy rear admiral and veteran of three wars, was mystified by the long-haired poet in leather pants. He urged him to abandon music, citing “a complete lack of talent.”

The rebuke shattered their relationship. When The Doors’ debut album was released in 1966, press materials falsely claimed that Morrison’s parents were dead.

The elder Morrison sat in astonishment as his son became one of the most magnetic performers in rock ‘n’ roll. In 1970, when the singer faced an indecent exposure charge, his father wrote a letter to parole officers seeking leniency. He called his estranged son “a fundamentally responsible citizen.” He also said he was proud of him.

Jim Morrison’s grave in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris bears an inscription chosen by his father.
Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Nine months later, on July 3, 1971, Jim Morrison died of a heart attack in Paris. His father thought long and carefully about what to inscribe on the gravestone. The ancient Greek phrase he chose has been interpreted as an expression of reconciliation: “ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ.” It means, “True to his own spirit.”

In an interview for the 2009 documentary “When You’re Strange,” George Morrison recalled his son warmly. “He was just somebody you would like to know,” he said. It seemed like he could be talking about his own yearning. Electric Lit | YouTube (9 mins)

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Morrison’s death followed that of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, all within 10 months of each other and all at the age of 27. The coincidence became known as the 27 Club, and it’s been collecting new members ever since. Rolling Stone

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