Forty years on, Jim Morrison cult thrives at Paris cemetery

It will be 40 years on Sunday since Jim Morrison was found dead in a bathtub in his Paris apartment, but a visit to his grave finds the cult of the lizard king as alive as ever.

His sudden and untimely death at the age of 27 stunned fans of The Doors, who broke fresh ground in psychedelic rock with such hits as "Riders on the Storm," "People are Strange" and "Light My Fire".

There was never an autopsy, giving rise to multiple conspiracy theories, as Morrison's remains were buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery, final resting place of other such notables as Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde.

Two of his bandmates, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger, will mark the anniversary with a sell-out concert at the Bataclan club, while a tribute band from Britain, The Doors Alive, will perform at the Cigale.

That Pere Lachaise is reputedly the most-visited cemetery in the world is due in no small part to the crowds that flock every day to visit Morrison's flower-strewn gravestone.

"James Douglas Morrison, 1943-1971," reads a plaque on the gravestone erected in the 1990s by the singer-poet's father, who added a Greek phrase often interpreted as "true to his own spirit".

"I've listened to his music intensely since I was a kid," said Alex, an American in his fifties living in Paris recently seen humming another Doors classic, "The End", as he came by to pay his respects.

"When I was 15 years old, I adored him. His lyrics were so profound. He had a genuine fascination with death, like a self-fulfilling prophecy," he told AFP.

"Morrison, that's my youth," said Gunther, 54, who expressly came from Germany to visit the grave that is under constant surveillance against degradation. "Being here brings back so many memories from that time."

But the most fervent pilgrims were not even born when Morrison died. Having discovered The Doors through their parents' record collections, they see in his legacy an image of what rock'n'roll had been in its heyday.

"I'm 17 and I've been listening to The Doors since I was three," said Jay Stanley, visiting Paris with a school group from the United States. "He personifies America. He's my idol. I have posters of him all over my room."

In skinny jeans and a Doors T-shirt, Maria, 27, from Russia, said: "He's the father of rock'n'roll. I love his music and mysticism. For all my life I wanted to visit his grave. Now I have."

Morrison, whose nickname grew out of a poem, "Celebration of the Lizard", moved to Paris after the 1971 release of "L.A. Woman" and lived in the then-not-yet-hip Marais district with partner Pamela Coulson.

It was she who found him dead, with a heart attack officially cited as the cause. His death was made public two days after he was buried at Pere Lachaise attended by just five people.

Conspiracy theories abound, however, including one from a British journalist in the 1980s who pointed a finger at the US Central Intelligence Agency.

In a 2007 book, rock writer Sam Bernett asserted that Morrison in fact died in the washroom of a Paris nightclub, the Rock'n'Roll Circus, apparently from an overdose.

Bernett, who managed the venue, said that a couple of drug pushers dragged the body into a taxi and returned it to the apartment. The proprietor never told police what transpired, he added, for fear of igniting a scandal.

Manzarek, who has done much to keep the Doors flame burning, once suggested another possibility. Recalling a 1970 conversation with Morrison, he wondered if the intense frontman had just faked his death to start a new life incognito.

Coulson herself died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles in 1974.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone