The Doors’ Alternative Future: What If Jim Morrison Survived Paris?

Jim Morrison, singer of the US rock band “The Doors”, 1968 in Germany. | usage worldwide Photo by: Manfred Rehm/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Living life on the fast lane always has its consequences, especially for someone alienated from the rest of the world, who built his own universe and didn’t allow anything to get in between him and his dreams. You guessed right — the person in question is Jim Morrison. He was a one-of-a-kind frontman in the history of rock with his antics, wild persona, poetic lyrics, and unpredictable behavior. However, the rock and roll lifestyle brought him to his tragic end.

Toward the end of his career with the Doors, Jim Morrison got into big trouble with the law. At the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, he sparked a riot among the crowd by screaming several obscenities. Six warrants for his arrest were issued three days after the Miami incident. Although he was sentenced to six months in prison with a $500 fine, Morrison found his way around with a $50,000 bail bond. However, this was only the beginning.

During a show at the Warehouse in New Orleans, Jim had a mental breakdown. Out of nowhere, he slammed his microphone stand onto the stage until he created a hole in the platform. He then sat down in silence, refusing to perform for the rest of the show. The crowd wasn’t aware, but this was Jim’s final show with the Doors. Upon seeing the rock icon in this condition, his bandmates John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, and Robby Krieger decided that Morrison was ready to retire.

Although things were going downhill, the Doors went on to record their sixth studio album ‘L.A. Woman.’ It ended up being their second best-selling album, with ‘Love Her Madly,’ ‘Riders on the Storm,’ and the title track becoming classics in the rock scene. During the mixings of the album, Jim revealed his intention to go to Paris with his girlfriend, Pamela. Considering his mental status, his bandmates thought it would be a good idea — without knowing Jim wouldn’t survive Paris.

Thus, Jim Morrison went to Paris in March 1971 and joined Pamela Courson at an apartment she had rented. During his time there, Jim didn’t forget about his friends — he wrote them letters in which he talked about the long walks he took through the city alone by himself. Going to Paris seemed like a good idea for the Lizard King. He lost the weight he gained and shaved his long beard, returning to the way he looked before. Besides, the rocker spent most of his time doing what he loved: writing poetry.

Several months passed, and Pamela Courson found Jim Morrison’s body in their bathtub on July 3. At the time of his death, Jim was 27 years old. His cause of death was announced as health failure, but there was no in-depth investigation as French law required no autopsy. However, many believe it was because of a heroin overdose. This uncertainty led to numerous conspiracy theories about Jim Morrison’s mysterious death.

Looking at the course of the events, one starts to wonder: what would happen if Jim Morrison didn’t go to Paris? What if he had survived there? It turns out there are several ideas about Morrison’s alternate life story. John Densmore, for instance, first thought Jim would continue drinking heavy amounts of alcohol, but he later changed his mind. The drummer decided the Lizard King was smart enough to be sober.

“I used to answer the question: ‘If Jim was around today, would he be clean and sober?’ with a ‘no,’” John Densmore told the Guardian in 2020, revealing he first thought Jim Morrison would continue with his drinking habits. “[He would be] kamikaze drunk. Now I’ve changed my mind. Of course, he would be sober. Why wouldn’t he be? He was smart.”

Morrison’s girlfriend Eva Gardonyi also sat down and thought about what would happen if Jim Morrison returned from Paris. According to Eva, the Doors wouldn’t continue recording after ‘L.A. Woman,’ as Morrison wasn’t getting along with his bandmates. “He wasn’t on good terms with any of them,” she told Classic Rock in 2019, and added, “And he was deeply disappointed with all of them.”

So, it seems like Jim Morrison could’ve left his bad habits and returned from Paris with heartfelt and philosophical poems written in his notebook. It remains unknown whether he would still abide by the ‘sex, drugs, and rock & roll’ laws, but his bandmate Densmore believes Jim was too smart to destroy himself with drinking. Sadly, his ex-girlfriend Eva doesn’t think the Doors would come up with another album. Perhaps, we could see Jim Morrison rise and shine as a solo artist.

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