What Influenced the Influencer?

By: Annika Gally


One of the most prominent figures of the mid to late 60s was not adored by all.  The lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison, reveals what has made him Mr. Mojo Risin’ and The Lizard King.

Obviously, Jim Morrison’s wild and unruly behavior made adults or certain types of other people uncomfortable either with his actions or his lyrics.  One man in particular, Jim Morrison’s father, a navy officer, was one of those people.  His father’s early disapproval may have been the reason why Morrison turned out the way he did.

            “You know, nowadays I am seen as a rebellious figure, whether it be my lyrics, or the way I live my life, but I think that my father’s strictness pushed me away and down a path he didn’t want me walking or tripping on,” said Morrison.

            Because his father was in the navy, Morrison’s family was moved around quite a bit as a young child to places that were different from the places he had been before.  Morrison grew up in Florida, moved to Mexico, then Texas, California, and finally settled in Virginia.  Before going to college in Florida, and then moving to California to attend UCLA.  Jim Morrison was moved around a lot and had to start at a new school each time.  Due to constantly moving around, and being exposed to new cultures and environments, Morrison picked up some interests along the way.

            “I do believe that I picked up certain interests depending on where I was at the time.  When I lived in Virginia and graduated from high school, I became infatuated in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche.  Then going to college in my home state, leaving it and going to UCLA got me interested in poetry,” said Morrison.

Some of the topics Morrison got interested in while he lived in Virginia would be the works of Huxley and Nietzsche.  Morrison was greatly impacted by the works of these authors, who got him to experiment with different issues at the time, as well as some drugs.

            “The time I was coming of age and started experimenting was when I was in my early 20s.  Having just formed the group and coming up with lyrics that contain the topics of certain issues like authority, freedom, women, and drugs, I was naturally curious where all this stuff was coming from, and the people who I was reading about, just happened to have the answers,” said Morrison.

            Along with actual drugs, Morrison liked to self-medicate.  He used poetry as a way to help him creatively and spiritually.

“My poetry is a means of self-medication.  I like to be creative and unleash my thoughts onto paper, and you know it’s just a way to get out there,” said Morrison

While Morrison likes to write poetry, he keeps it out of his lyrics, because of the way his fans and critics will take it… I feel as though it wouldn’t be too popular among my crowd, besides a few people.  It’s very different compared to what John, Ray, Robbie, or I would ever come up with and release,” said Morrison.

While Morrison won’t release his poetry into lyric form to all to hear, he does let his personality and what some would call flaws, shine through.  For example, the New Haven Incident, was a prime example of how Morrison is perceived as a rebel and showcases his personality.  For those who don’t know what the New Haven Incident is, Jim was backstage with an unknown female making out in the shower.  A security guard tried to stop them, Morrison shouted some explicits, and got maced.  Jim recovered to go onstage, and in turn, he ranted onstage about the police, and was arrested.

“I don’t think people who enjoy my music feel any differently about the way I acted or acted.  They know how I live my life, and they must think like, “It’s about time,” and you know that I do that kind of stuff all the time…People who are not taken with the way the band and myself presents itself, are not going to think of that one incident, but I guarantee in a conversation saying something about how wild and unruly or immature we are,” said Morrison.

Combined with a few of his antics, Morrison weighs in about his stage persona.

“I feel like I look.  I feel pretty loose, I mean, I think I look loose…But it usually depends what I’ve been doing backstage before the show, whether it’s smoking a cigarette or you know, talking to the police and what not, and some other things,” said Morrison.

Morrison’s stage antics and personality can be traced back to certain types of drugs like LSD and alcohol.  Morrison credits his discovery and inspiration to try psychedelics to people like Aldous Huxley, poet William Blake, and Friedrich Nietzsche who are poets and authors writing about their experiences with drugs, and the mind.

“These poets and authors gave me insight on what to experience and some of the amazing things they can do, so I guess they have influenced me to try them,” said Morrison.

Morrison has been an avid user of psychedelic drugs for a while, but has showed extreme dependency on alcohol since a young age.  Now that leaves the question of why Jim Morrison takes drugs.

“I use them like every other person who takes psychedelics.  I believe they enhance the mind, free the spirt so it can wander, focus on an idea, and truly look at that idea and make it into something beautiful.  For instance, the songs “Break on Through” and “People are Strange” are both about drugs, and I might have been high while coming up with the tunes, I don’t know.  Who can remember?  Anyway, they make you truly passionate about something if it’s a good trip.  And if it is a good trip, you go back for more because of the pleasure it gives you, and what you obtain from it.  Obviously, if I had tried it first hand and ended with a bad experience, I wouldn’t be here, where I am today.  So, I guess It’s because I am good at taking drugs, having pleasurable experiences from them, and just wanting to become more Jim Morrison than I am at this moment in time.  Plus, the colors are nice, and I enjoy watching the colors swirl and jive,” said Morrison.

Going back to his family and current relationships, Morrison believes that his use of drugs and alcohol have not affected his relationship with Pamela Courson, but have hurt his relationship with his family, especially his father.

“With my relationships, I don’t think were affected.  I mean you look at Pamela and I, were very open, and have a meaningful relationship, I love her madly and she reflects that same image.  My family is a different story.  While I know they love me, they have always seen my rebellious nature as an issue, and I can see where they are coming from.  They kind of resent me for that.  I come from a very strict and professional family, and I came along it screwed with it, their image,” said Morrison.

Overall, it is known that Jim Morrison is affected by what he takes and uses, but there is a deeper truth.  Morrison, like all, has been influenced and shaped to who he is by the parents who have raised him, the places he’s been, and the people and topics who have inspired him to become who is today.

Language Arts and Media Teacher - Kutztown Area High School

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