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How Jim Morrison Died

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Kerry Lenzendorf
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« on: July 17, 2007, 09:54:17 pm »

How Jim Morrison Died
Monday, Jul. 16, 2007 By VIVIENNE WALT  Grave of Doors singer Jim Morrison
John Pearson Wright / Time Life Pictures/Getty

Article ToolsPrintEmailReprints  Even on a gray day in Paris last week, there was one place you could find a crowd of tourists from places as varied as Rome, Tokyo and Orlando, Florida gathered at the Pere Lachaise cemetery, around the graveside of Jim Morrison. Forget Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and the hundreds of other luminaries interred among its chestnut trees, the frontman of The Doors has long been the cemetery's headline draw. Part of the attraction is the almost mystical magnetism he exuded in life; part is the macabre mystery of his demise: How did one of the legends of the rock age die in a Paris bathtub in 1971 at age 27, of what the Paris police report said were "natural causes"?

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How Jim Morrison Died
Strange days, indeed, as new revelations suggest the true manner of The Doors frontman's death has been covered up for 36 years

He did not, according to Sam Bernett, whose French book The End Jim Morrison has just appeared here. Bernett, then 21, ran the hottest Paris club, the Rock 'n Roll Circus, which (as the name suggests) drew a nightly crowd of stoners. After midnight on July 3, Bernett claims he discovered Morrison's lifeless body in the club's bathroom, having clearly overdosed on heroin. Angelic images of Morrison still grace countless T-shirts ($22 at funeral stores around Pere Lachaise), but Bernett paints an uglier picture. "There was foam coming out of his lips," the former nightclub owner told TIME. A doctor who was in the club that night concluded that Morrison had overdosed, and "said Jim was dead," he says. "I wanted to call the police or rescue people to help. They [Morrison's drug dealers] said no," and instead had the body driven back to the apartment the singer had rented with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson. It was then soaked in the bath tub.

This might sound like a juicy tale concocted to sell books. But Bernett isn't the only person in Paris who remembers that night 36 years ago, although it appears to have taken the publication of his book to prompt them to finally speak up. Patrick Chauvel now a renowned war photographer told TIME he was 19 and drunk that night, when he was dragooned into helping load Morrison's body into a car. Since he had just returned from photographing the Vietnam War, Chauvel was deemed especially suited to dealing with corpses. "We carried him in a blanket and got him the hell out of there," recalls Chauvel, who was a friend of Morrison and did not cooperate with Bernett's book. Explaining the cover-up, Chauvel says: "I guess if you have a night club and Jim Morrison dies in your toilet, it is not good p.r. The five or six people who knew, who were there that night, agreed to just forget about it."

Courson maintained that what Bernett says is the lie, telling police they had spent the evening listening to records at home, when Morrison fell ill. She herself died soon after, taking her secrets with her.

And so the tale has stuck for 36 years. Oliver Stone's 1991 movie The Doors ends with Morrison slumped in la baignoire with a stoned Courson nearby. Bernett says he once met Oliver Stone's mother, and told her: "Tell your son to call me and I'll tell him how his movie should end." Stone never called.

The official Paris death reports, reproduced by Bernett, reveal bland functionaries willing to cooperate in a full-blown cover-up, and less than eager to discover how a young American had wound up dead in their city. Astonishingly, the coroner conducted no autopsy. The police swallowed Courson's version whole. And the medical examiner says Morrison had "classic signs" of a heart attack especially as "a friend" (unnamed) of Morrison's said that he had complained of heart pains for weeks. Voila.

The new reports on Morrison's death have some unsettling echoes in a city still questioning the conduct of the Paris police on the night Princess Diana died in a car crash in August 1997 considerable time elapsed before her body reached the hospital's emergency room. Princess Di's death draws its own morbid gawkers, of course, who lurk around the underpass where her mangled car was found. But those numbers are tiny compared to the hordes that descend every day of the year, year in and year out, on Pere Lechaise.

A few years ago, Morrison fans dismantled his giant bust atop the grave. Now his remains are encased in a smaller modest tomb, blocked by metal barricades. Two ribbons lie amid the flowers, placed by the French Fan Club of The Doors. What brings the crowd? "Morrison's death was the end of an era," says Celine Sauls, a Parisian who emigrated to Orlando, Florida, a decade ago and was back to pay her respects last week. "That is why people are so infatuated with him." For her, Morrison will forever be the frenetic singer belting out "LA Woman" until he and his audience wept. Born five years after Morrison's death, Sauls says: "He was 27, wild and crazy. He will always be that." Regardless of which account of his death holds the truth.


http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1643884,00.html?cnn=yes
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Kerry Lenzendorf
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2007, 09:55:29 pm »



Grave of Doors singer Jim Morrison
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Kerry Lenzendorf
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2007, 09:59:34 pm »

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