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How Did Jim Morrison Die? The Death of a True Rockstar

how did Jim Morrison die
Promotional photo of The Doors. From left-John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison. Elektra Records-Joel Brodsky.

Jim Morrison was a famous American singer and songwriter who was best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band The Doors. His poetic lyrics, wild personality, unpredictable performances, and distinctive voice have made him an icon in rock history.

Light My Fire” from the band’s self-titled debut album became the number one single in the US and led to Jim Morrison recording additional five studio albums. 

As an embodiment of hippie counterculture rebellion, Rolling Stone has listed him as the greatest singer of all time. Jim Morrison’s death continues to be a hot topic among music fans. So, how did Jim Morrison die?

Here is everything you need to know about the music legend’s death. 

photo of Jim Morrison
Publicity photo of Jim Morrison in 1969. Photo by Elektra Records.


Native of Melbourne, Florida, Jim Morrison’s birthdate is December 8, 1943. His parents were George Stephen Morrison and Clara Virginia. 

At the age of 3, he witnessed a tragic car accident that resulted in Native Americans lying injured, which he has referenced in the song “Peace Frog”. He grew up with two younger siblings, a sister and a brother. 

He was a military brat, brought up in San Diego, Virginia, and Texas. 

His literary influences included Friedrich Nietzsche, Plutarch, Arthur Rimbaud, and Franz Kafka.

A wild one even in his teen years, Morrison was arrested for drunken behavior in Tallahassee during a football game at 19. 

He went on to study at UCLA’s film school. After his graduation, he started writing lyrics and founded the Doors with Ray Manzarek, a fellow UCLA student, along with John Densmore and Robby Krieger in 1965. 

Elektra Records Label signed the group in 1967 and the first album was made within just a few days. Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek also made a promotional film to promote the album and made music videos a trend. 

The next two albums “Waiting for the Sun” and “The Soft Parade” proved to be huge hits. The music was amplified by a variety of instruments that were added. 

Jim Morrison wrote most of the songs while other members contributed. His fame and popularity became too much for him when he exposed himself at a Florida concert and was charged for it in 1969. 

The trial took a toll on Jim Morrison and he realized that he craved change. In his notebook, in which he passionately wrote in, he noted that the joy of performing is no more. 

After his release on bond, Jim Morrison decided to leave the band and moved with his girlfriend to Paris for a much-needed break. He never got the chance to return home.  

Jim Morrison Songs  

Some of Jim Morrison’s classics that fans still listen to this day include “Roadhouse Blues”, “Waiting for the Sun”, “Break on Through (To the Other Side)”, “Light My Fire”, and “Love Her Madly”.

What is Jim Morrison’s Nickname?

Like any other rock star, Jim Morrison has a bizarre nickname, “The Lizard King”. The name stuck with him as he dove into the music world. There are various theories behind the nickname. 

One theory that lives on is that Jim Morrison could communicate with reptiles.

When Did Jim Morrison Die?

Jim Morrison’s death shook the world on July 3, 1971. He left more questions than answers and fans were devastated by the news. His legacy continues to live. 

Jim morrison girlfriend
Jim Morrison & Pamela Courson. Photo by Jack Michelson.

How Did Jim Morrison Die?

According to The Guardian, there are two different stories behind Jim Morrison’s cause of death. Both of them are tragic.  

The most commonly told tale involves Jim Morrison going to the cinema in Paris and returning to his apartment to listen to music after dinner and being found dead in a bathtub. 

He is said to have died of a heart attack. 

Chosen to be laid to rest quietly, no proper investigation was performed to find the main cause of Jim Morrison’s death. 

Another more harrowing story has received more traction in recent times. It highlights a darker picture of his life, one in which he had died of an overdose and was hauled back to his apartment by drug dealers. 

Jim Morrison’s final hours are a mystery because France did not require postmortem examination at that time. 

His girlfriend, Pamela Courson told the police that she had found him dead in the bathtub at about 6 am. She also battled drug addiction and died of a drug overdose three years later. 

To many, his death seemed like the result of a downward spiral. Fans knew that Jim Morrison struggled with addiction and fame. After the trial, he was found guilty of profanity and denied the charges. 

Stardom had taken a toll on Jim Morrison and he tried to find peace in Paris. During his time in the city, he wrote every single day. People thought that he was finally healthy and happy. 

Some of his last pictures capture a young, fit man. The news of his death shocked everyone even though it was not as surprising. 

Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson have been accounted for indulging in old habits. They used to frequent Parisian nightclubs, the last thing he did before his death. 

Where Is Jim Morrison Buried?

Jim Morrison’s grave is located in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris where other artists are also buried including Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde. It is a popular tourist attraction. 

Initially, the grave did not have any official marker. When French officials added a shield next to it, it was stolen shortly after 1973. The cemetery directory had listed the grave incorrectly, which was later corrected. 

Mladen Mikulin, a Croatian sculptor, created a marble bust and a new gravestone on the tenth anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death after receiving approval from the cemetery. However, vandals defaced the bust and stole it in 1988. 

Despite making an additional bust in 1989 and a bronze portrait in 2011 for Jim Morrison’s grave, none of the pieces can be found at the gravesite.  

The doors jim morrison
Photo of the rock group The Doors. From left-Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Robby Krieger and seated, Ray Manzarek. Photo taken in 1968 by APA (Agency for the Performing Arts Management).

How Old Was Jim Morrison When He Died?

Jim Morrison’s age at the time of his death was 27. This makes him part of the 27 club.

How did the world react?

The broader reaction to the legend’s death was significant.

Fans and celebrities were shaken and expressed great grief. 

The account of Jim Morrison’s death that most fans believe is that he and his girlfriend used heroin while listening to music. The duo had to snort the drug since Jim Morrison was afraid of needles. The batch proved to be very strong for him and he could not handle it. 

Many details of how the night unfolded remain unclear to this day. How did the rock star get into a bathtub? Some people even claim that his girlfriend left him there thinking that a warm bath would help him out. 

No matter the specifics of Jim Morrison’s death, his music will continue to live on. The Doors are just as loved today as back in the “good old days.”

The insightful lyrics of each album endure the untimely demise. The contributions made by Jim Morrison to the rock world cannot and will not be forgotten. 

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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