Thursday, 31 March 2016

L.A. Woman And The Last Days of Jim Morrison Part 1

The playback of L.A. Woman at the Doors workshop. Clockwise from left: Jim Morrison, John Densmore, (Elvis Presley bassist) Jerry Scheff, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, (session man) Marc Benno, producer Bruce Botnick

By Max Bell, Classic Rock Magazine, August 2010
November 1970. Sunset Sound, 6650 Sunset Boulevard. Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, engineer Bruce Botnick and producer Paul A. Rothchild are staggering through rehearsals for The Doors’ sixth studio recording. Even though they are back where The Doors made their first two albums, the mood is deadly.

The band have busked through a meagre collection of material, including the germ of L.A. Woman, basic chords for Riders On The Storm, some blues jams and a couple of discards, namely the demo for Hyacinth House, and one track they’ve already finished. Tentatively called Latin America, it’s been offered up for Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Zabriskie Point. The director rejected the song after The Doors played it live for him.

“We played it so loud we blew his ears out,” says Doors drummer John Densmore.

Equally unimpressed, Rothchild slumps over the console.

“You know what? I can’t do this anymore. This isn’t working. This music is like cocktail jazz. It’s awful. You produce it. I can’t”.

Bombshell dropped, Rothchild sweeps up his belongings, including a bag of grass he calls his ‘Killer Destroyer’ stash, gives everyone a brief hug, and exits to stunned silence.

Ray Manzarek recalls the day. “We were giving Paul a preview and he was bored. We played the songs very badly – with Jim – but there was no chi, no energy. We didn’t want to be back in Sunset, and Paul couldn’t bring us back to life. In that instant he was right. As soon as he left the room, that’s when L.A. Woman started.”

Rothchild’s lethargy was understandable. The Elektra Records soundman had fallen out with label boss Jac Holzman and gone freelance. The Doors felt like old ground. He’d spent a fractious time in 1970 producing Morrison Hotel and then sifted through hours of stage tapes for Absolutely Live.

He’d also endured the trauma of producing Janis Joplin’s Pearl album. Joplin died before its completion – aged 27, like Brian Jones. Carousing with Jim one night the singer had mumbled, “Brian, Janis, Jimi – you’re drinkin’ with number four." It was the last straw.

Long-time Doors producer Paul Rothchild walked off L.A. Woman
The track L'America had already been rejected for the movie Zabriskie Point
By 1970, the people prepared to buy Morrison’s antics, and those who weren’t, were divided into two camps. Paul Rothchild was now in the latter group.

“Morrison looked ugly,” he said. “He was unhappy with his role as a national sex symbol , and after the Miami obscenity trial [August 1970] he did everything in his power to obliterate that, He gained enormous weight, he grew a beard. I quit because I’d grown tired of dragging The Doors from one album to another, especially an unwilling Jim, and he had virtually dried up. Two out of three times, Jim would either not want to work, or would go into the studio drunk. He would intentionally disrupt things… never fruitfully. Most of my energies were spent trying to co-ordinate Jim with the group.”
Doors manager Bill Siddons, who was virtually inured to Morrison’s excesses with booze, cocaine, no-shows, hangers on and the endless liabilities of the band’s live act before, during and after Miami, remembered one afternoon “when Jim came into rehearsals and drank 36 beers”.

Ever loyal to an old friend, even Manzarek agrees – the situation was dire.

“Jim was an alcoholic. A genetic predisposition to alcoholism ran in his family. It was hard to tell him to clean up his act. One day, around the Morrison Hotel sessions, John and Robby sat him down at Robby’s dad’s house by the pool, and told him, ‘This is seriously affecting us all now as a group, and you physically’. Jim says, ‘I know. I drink too much and I’m trying to quit’. Which was a rare admission. We told him we’d help. Jim said, ‘Thanks. Now let’s go get some lunch at the Lucky-U. I want some funky Mexican food and a drink’. That was Morrison. The romantic poet who wrote ‘I woke up this morning, got myself a beer’. A real ‘Fuck you!’ line. Unfortunately, that was the reality. Jim’s attitude was always, ‘Look out man, I’m hell bent on destruction’. We couldn’t moralise. We figured he might emerge from the spiral, but working with Jim in the studio was the only way we knew how to transcend his problem.”

After Rothchild’s departure The Doors went to the Moo-Ling restaurant and considered their options. Sunset was out; likewise a return to Elektra’s own studio. Krieger offered to produce but Morrison had a plan. “Why don’t we just do it in our rehearsal room, in The Doors office? We like it there. Bruce – you produce it with the guys. You know how I work,” he smiled. Once Holzman agreed to the idea, Botnick transformed The Doors Workshop at 8512 Santa Monica Boulevard on the corner of La Cienega into a makeshift studio.

The squat two-storey building was near a variety of cheap motels, strip joints, liquor stores and burlesque bars – Morrison’s kinda town. The room was a mess. Morrison’s desk was covered in bottles of tequila and bourbon while an ashtray with a peeling tartan design overflowed with discarded joints and cigar butts. Botnick hauled the old eight-track board The Doors used on Strange Days across the street from Elektra and set up his brand new console on the first floor with an intercom microphone over his head to communicate with the band, out of sight downstairs.

 “It was like home from home,” Botnick says. “ There was a pinball table and paintings on the wall. One was of a nude with a hole cut out of her head. I hung packing blankets and towels up for baffling and wired up the remote. It was primitive.”

John Densmore didn’t mind.

 “I used the same drum kit I had on the first record,” he says. “It was like going back to the metaphorical garage in Venice where we started. I told Ray, I wanted to get the feeling Miles Davis had on Live At Carnegie Hall, where you could make a mistake, but you went for passion.”

Speaking from his office in Sherman Oaks, Bill Siddons recalls the sessions: “I’d rented the Workshop, and built the studio wall so they could rehearse. Bruce used my office as his studio. The board was on my desk. Mostly I worked there in the day and they came in at night. I didn’t hang around. The record works because they focused on each other. They couldn’t see the producer. It was different. Using the clubhouse was a masterstroke. They made the album from their heart.”
Morrison was fairly straight during the early days of recording, at least by his extraordinary standards.

 Botnick: “He was punctual, professional, all those boring things.” According to Botnick, “some sessions even began in the afternoon! The Doors were making the record Jim wanted, rather than what was expected. His notion of The Doors was as a blues band, and not a pop group”. Hanging off his stage mic, a gold Electrovoice- 676-G, Morrison sang in front of a tile on which he’d written ‘A clean slate is an empty slate’; a possible jibe at Rothchild. For certain songs he crouched in the doorway of the toilet, having ripped the door off for good measure. He was in the mood.

 As Densmore says, “If he kept his alcoholism out of the studio everything worked great. He was in trouble, yeah, he was, but without the world around him, everything else went away.”

"I don’t read or write much. I don’t do much of anything. But I will get back in the saddle..." - Jim Morrison.
For the most part Morrison knuckled down. The bulk of recording was completed in six days. The other Doors knew the singer wasn’t likely to endure the months Morrison Hotel had taken. During recording he gave an interview to the Village Voice, describing this rapid process. “This new album, it went really quick. Like a song a day, which is unusual. Like the first album. Amazing. Partly because we went back to the original instrumentation: just the four of us and a bass player.” With most of the basics finished, Morrison said he was ready for more down time. “I don’t read or write much. I don’t do much of anything. But I will get back in the saddle. I’ve just been kind of lazy. I go through cycles of non- productiveness, and then intense periods of creativity.”

The interviewer mentioned Morrison’s weight gain. “Why is it so onerous to be fat? Fat is beautiful,” the singer replied. “I feel great when I’m fat, I feel like a tank, y’know? I feel like a large mammal, a big beast. When I move through the corridors or across the lawn, I just feel like I could knock anybody out of my way. It’s terrible to be thin and wispy – you could get knocked over by a strong wind.”

Fuelled on a succession of screwdrivers, Morrison outlined what it took to gain entrance to his circle: “You gotta get smashed and make a fool of yourself in a public place. You gotta get eighty-sixed [barred] from seven nightclubs. That’s the Irish thing. I hang around mostly with the Irish – and the Italians.” And then he challenged the reporter to a bout of arm wrestling. He was less flippant with the Los Angeles Free Press. Explaining the new recording approach, Morrison let slip “we do a lot better when we’re rehearsing. We leave a tape running. It’s a lot cheaper and faster that way. Not that the other producer [Rothchild] was a bad influence... but we’ll be ourselves for better or worse, co-producing with Botnick.”

At the end of the interview Morrison gave his then definitive attitude towards narcotics. “There seem to be a lot of people shooting smack and speed now. Alcohol and heroin and downers – these are painkillers. Alcohol for me, cause it’s traditional. Also, I hate scoring. I hate the kind of sleazy sexual connotations of scoring from people, so I never do that. I like alcohol; you can go down to any corner store or bar and it’s right across the table.”

By the end of November, five of L.A. Woman’s 10 songs were near completion. The opening song The Changeling was plucked from one of Morrison’s 1968 notebooks. A classic rocker à la Roadhouse BluesThe Changeling contained the mantra ‘I had money, I had none’, summing up Morrison’s attitude to life. An obvious single, said the band. Robby arrived with Love Her Madly, one of his ‘girl’s-driving-me-nuts’ numbers. At Jac Holzman’s insistence, it became the album’s lead-off single, released a week before Morrison departed for Paris on March 1971. Krieger pleaded for Riders On The Storm but was overruled. The non-album B-side was a jokey blues romp written by Willie Dixon called (You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further. Sung by Manzarek, it epitomises the ‘hurried out-take’, with only an occasional grunt from Morrison.

Hyacinth House was a Doors collaboration, whipped into shape by Manzarek, although Morrison and Krieger came up with the basic track while tripping at Robby’s idyllic beachfront house in 1969, where they recorded a demo in the guitarist’s home studio, marvelling at the hyacinths growing round Krieger’s pool. Latin America was renamed L’America. The original track was left intact, though Morrison overdubbed a guttural single word ‘fuck’ and Botnick phased Densmore’s drum break. Lyrically it was a slight piece concerning a short holiday Jim took in Mexico with his drinking crew. It was all about sex with prostitutes, marijuana and tequila – hence ‘I took a trip down to L’America, to trade some beads for a pint of Gold’. The song poem The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat) with its marching band rhythm and phased drum break was another adaptation from 1968 and had often been played live before recording took place. Usually, ...Texas Radio... was used as the prelude to Peace Frog, from Morrison Hotel, or as part of a medley – a moment of hiatus between When The Music’s Over, Celebration Of The Lizard and The End. Jim was as proud of the lyric as anything he’d written and included the poem inside the 1968 tour programme.

According to Krieger, “The WASP… was about the new music Jim heard when his family were moving around the South West States in the 1960s. He got this vision of a huge radio tower spewing out noise... This was when Wolfman Jack was on XERB, out of Rosarito Beach, in Mexico, blasting out 250,000 watts of soul power. He saturated the airwaves – you could hear him from Tijuana to Tallahassie up to Chicago where Ray lived. There were no laws about how powerful a radio station could be. That started rock ’n’ roll for my generation.”

Morrison – the WASP, the White Anglo- Saxon Protestant in the song – had been a Wolfman fanatic.
“My adolescence coincided with rock ’n’ roll although I never went to any concerts,” he said. “In my head I heard a whole concert, with a band and singing and a large audience. I was taking notes at a fantastic rock concert that only existed inside my head.”

The Doors used a bass on every track, except L’America. Botnick hired the seasoned Jerry Scheff, who had just finished a stint with Elvis Presley at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Morrison, a Presley fanatic, was delighted. So was drummer Densmore.

“Jerry was incredible; an in-the-pocket man. He allowed me to communicate rhythmically with Morrison, and he slowed Ray down, when his right hand on the keyboards got too darn fast.”
In December Botnick persuaded the Doors to hire young Texan Marc Benno as rhythm guitar foil to Krieger. Benno would play on four numbers.

“Morrison was a nice guy who was on a roll,” he said. “He reminded me of a wild gorilla at the sessions. He had a hand-held microphone and a telephone book full of songs. One day he stopped the session and took me to lunch. He ordered ox tails and drank Jack Daniel’s out of the bottle. When we got back Jim had me show Robby a lick I was playing, and we used it on L.A. Woman.

“From there, it was a jam right through the album. We worked the tunes up on the spot, and did very few takes. We never saw anyone but each other, which kept distractions to a minimum, and kept Jim from feeling inhibited, which I don’t think was a problem for him, anyway! He cut loose completely while recording, and the result was a very spontaneous album.”

In the second week of December the band held what they called “the blues day”. After knocking off John Lee Hooker’s Crawling King Snake, a regular in the repertoire in their 1967 club dates, Morrison delighted everyone with Been Down So Long, its title borrowed from Richard Farina’s similarly named novel. He set it inside a prison. The prospect of spending six months banged up in Florida’s Dade County Jail East Wing – a notorious ‘hell-hole in paradise’ – didn’t fill him with delight. Yet, that was where he would end up if the aftermath of the Miami trial went wrong. When he sang ‘Warden, warden, warden, won’t you throw away your lock and key?/Come along here mister, let the poor be’, he meant every word. Then there was Cars Hiss By My Window, with Morrison’s wah- wah guitar impersonation.

 The book that gave Morrison the song title of one of L.A. Woman's bluesiest tracks

Cars... was brand new; a week old maybe. Jim said it was about living in Venice [Beach], in a hot room, with a hot girlfriend, and an open window, and a bad time. It could have been about Pamela Courson.” - Ray Manzarek

Certainly, the lines ‘Can’t hear my baby, though I call and call’ seemed to reference Pam, who was now living in Paris, hopelessly embroiled in heroin. On that blues roll, the song L.A. 

Woman completed the session. Lyrically, Morrison was inspired here by Los Angeles novelist John Rechy, whose 1963 novel City Of Night was a college favourite, and 1940s writer John Fante, who described Hollywood in love-hate lines like: ‘So fuck you, Los Angeles, fuck your palm trees, and your high-assed women, and your fancy streets... Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand...’ 
Manzarek says: “L.A. Woman was recorded in a state of high excitement. The Doors jumped in. We dug our teeth into that song. It was all about passion and hauling ass. It felt like we were on Route 101, on the road from Bakersfield to San Francisco. You can hear our enthusiasm. Welcome to Los Angeles!”

On December 8 Morrison celebrated his 27th birthday at the Village Recorders studio in West LA, taping poetry for a solo album. He was tired and hitting the bottle. After imbibing a lot of Old Bushmills he passed out and collapsed onto a stack of equipment. Everyone laughed: Hey, that’s Jim for ya! The next day Morrison demanded the Doors hit the road to play L.A. Woman live. Dates in Dallas and New Orleans were arranged for the 11th and 12th.

Today rare bootlegs reveal that in Texas a doomy 15-minute version of the title track was unveiled alongside The Changeling, where Morrison sang in a falsetto scat he’d never used before. The Texas crowd also heard The WASP and Love Her Madly — Morrison changing the lyric to ‘Do you love her madly?’. Most surprising of all was a work in progress called Riders On The Storm, which Densmore describes now as “unlike anything we’d ever done”.

The Texas show at the Dallas State Fair Music Hall was relatively triumphant. Morrison is drunk and sounds like he’s going through a private hell, but he is coherent. Stoned immaculate. But if Mr. Mojo was barely risin’ then, in Louisiana he didn’t get up at all. The gig at the Warehouse, New Orleans, was a fiasco. It was the last live show the band ever gave.

The music was over. Manzarek recalls: “He just lost his energy completely. He was so dissipated. His voice got lower and lower and he ground to a halt. He was empty. This wasn’t like when he comes to the studio wasted and can’t deliver, but then there’s always tomorrow – and by God he will deliver. This was final.”

Drummer Densmore agrees. “His life-force was gone. He was so out of it. That was a depressing experience.”

Doors road manager Vince Treanor looked on from the wings. “He was very drunk. They finished with Light My Fire and Jim was hanging on the microphone trying to sing. He sat on the drum platform and didn’t come back in for his vocal. Finally John kicked him and he got up and mumbled ‘Yeah... yeah...’ then he picked the mic up high and smashed the entire stand through the floor... Walked off stage and that was show over. John got up and said ‘Right, that’s it, I’m not playing anymore’, and he walked off leaving Ray and Robby there.”

With a tentative booking for four shows at Madison Square Garden in January cancelled, thanks to Jim’s Louisiana meltdown, as a mark of contrition he returned to the studio the next week to finish Riders On The Storm. After looking at the lyric, Bruce Botnick played him the old Stan Jones pop song Ghost Riders In The Sky. Yet Morrison already had the key line, which he’d nicked from poet Hart Crane, who had written of ‘Delicate riders of the storm’ in his work Praise For An Urn. No one knew then but Riders On The Storm was Jim Morrison penning his own epitaph.

According to Manzarek: “He adapted the song from his script for the movie HWY. It was about a hitchhiker, a killer who hijacks a blue Mustang in Joshua Tree desert. Jim was obsessed with HWY, which he made with a bunch of his UCLA cronies.”  Footage from the project was used in the Doors documentary, When You’re Strange.

“Never finished it. Great photography though from Paul Ferrara,” says Manzarek. “After 10 minutes of coherent shooting the four of them got totally wasted on Cannabinol, a heavy pill version of marijuana. Paul told me they lost it afterwards and tripped back to Los Angeles. Anyhow, it gave Morrison the lyric for the last song he ever sang on planet Earth with The Doors. An insane killer, a lunatic, he’s going to do something bad. Give him a ride, why don’t you? But when the end comes you realise Jim’s singing a beautiful, romantic song: ‘Girl you gotta love your man/Take him by the hand/Make him understand/The world on you depends/Our life will never end...’ He was singing that for Pam.”

In January, during the hottest temperatures ever recorded in that month in California, The Doors and Botnick moved into Poppi Studios, Motown’s West Coast complex, to mix the album. Morrison added a harmony vocal to Hyacinth House and, having suggested to Botnick that they use a thunderstorm sound effect as an opener for Riders On The Storm, he climaxed the final number with an eerie vocal whisper that was his last recorded contribution to the band. Elektra boss Jac Holzman turned up during the final mixing. On hearing the album he broke down in tears. His most beloved charges had delivered after all. Now they were out of contract. Elektra’s gold standard group, the biggest band in America, owed him no more.

With L.A. Woman finished and the title agreed, The Doors convened for the cover photo shoot. Morrison sat down on a stool, hunched, an unseen bottle of Irish whiskey at his feet.

Manzarek: “In that photo you can see the impending demise of Jim Morrison. He was sitting down because he was drunk. A psychic would have known that guy is on the way out. There was a great weight on him. He wasn’t the youthful poet I met on the beach at Venice.”

The album’s art designers, Wendell Hamick and Carl Cossick, were outside the Elektra family that oversaw previous Doors products. They came up with an idea for a rounded corner cover and a cellophane window. Behind that was a yellow inner sleeve showing a woman crucified on an electricity pole.

The album was released in April 1971. It hit the Top 10 a few weeks later. During the making of L.A. Woman, Morrison’s partner Pamela Courson went to Paris and stayed with Count Jean de Breteuil, a wealthy socialite with a penchant for blondes, violence against women and horrendous heroin abuse. Breteuil met Courson in Morocco when she was buying clothes for her boutique, Themis, on North La Cienega. Jim paid for Themis with his Strange Days royalty cheque. He wanted to call it ‘Fucking Great’.

Though he posed, awkwardly, wearing Pam’s flamboyant garb, Morrison detested the people who hung out with his girl. In the song Love Street he sang ‘She has robes and she has monkeys, lazy, diamond-studded flunkeys’. The original rhyme was ‘junkies’. Pam, a junkie herself, returned to Jim for a tempestuous Christmas then went back to Paris to renew her relationship with the Count on February 14.

Morrison was now talking about moving to France himself. He’d tired of being a rock star and wanted to escape. His attorney, Max Fink, warned Morrison that if Miami turned nasty he’d have his passport confiscated. A tactical exit from the USA was a good idea. While Courson was strung out on the Left Bank, Morrison started taking more cocaine. He chain smoked Marlboros and Gauloises, and became more addicted to hard liquor. He hung out with fellow Southerner Steven Stills at the Crosby, Stills & Nash house on Shady Oaks.

He and Stills shared a Florida military brat background. Jim’s father had served in the US Navy aboard a warship in the Gulf of Tonkin. Stills’ old man wasn’t far away. Jac Holzman saw Jim for the last time at an Elektra Records party to show off a new studio complex on March 3.

“He was unusually quiet. I could feel finality hanging in the air.” The party retired to the Blue Boar restaurant. “Jim was half there, half somewhere else,” Holzman recalled. “As we left, we said our goodbyes to him. We’d enjoyed a lifetime together in the concentrated blazing arc of rock ’n’ roll. Jim and I hugged each other, and then he turned somewhat awkwardly and walked away.”
A few days later Paul Rothchild was at Elektra on business.

“I heard the door open and felt this large man entering. I didn’t recognise him. Then I was tapped on the shoulder, and I turned around and this large person who looked like Orson Welles’ younger son, said ‘Hi, Paul’. I said to myself ‘Holy fuck! This is Jim?’”

On the eve of his flight to Paris, Jim drove to the airport with friends. He got so smashed he missed the plane, and travelled out the following day, flying TWA Ambassador Class.

Reunited with Courson they moved into the fabulous Hotel George V, which he said “looks like a red-plush whorehouse”. The couple then moved to L’Hotel, Rue des Beaux-Arts, a funkier establishment favoured by Mick Jagger.

Recording L.A. Woman at the Doors' workshop, late 1970. Note the wording on the tile in the picture on the right: 'A clean slate is an empty slate,' thought to be a jibe at former Doors producer Paul Rothchild, who walked out on the sessions claiming the music was like "cocktail jazz."

Courson found them a lavishly furnished third floor, three-bedroom apartment in the Marais district, 17 Beautreillis, owned by a French model and starlet Elizabeth Lariviere. That week Morrison picked up a copy of Newsweek, which ran a cover story – 'War Against The White Death’ – about the flood of heroin in Europe and America, much of it arriving via Paris and Marseille. At the same time, director William Friedkin was finishing his smack movie The French Connection. It was no secret that Paris was awash with heroin, nowhere more so than in the rock clubs. 

A 21-year-old war photographer called Patrick Chauvel was working as a part-time barman at one such venue – the Rock ’n’ Roll Circus, on the Left Bank. “I saw Jim Morrison many times at the club. He was rarely on his own,” he says today from his home in Paris. “He’d come in and sit on a couch, separate to the other clientele. He didn’t dance or make a big noise. I remember him coming in once three nights in a row. He came often, and there were times when I didn’t see him, but it was a big club on two floors, full of French stars – he wasn’t the only big star in the club. He was interested in my friend Sky, a half-breed American Apache. They had things in common: [they both spoke English], Sky’s dad was Scottish, the Vietnam War – Sky was a deserter – and the Indians. Sky said Jim was writing a poem about him, about the fact Sky’s father died in a car crash leaving the family to go back to the reservation in Tucson, Arizona. Jim wanted to replace Sky in Vietnam so he could get an honorable discharge. He was fascinated by the Indian’s story.”

Chauvel doesn’t believe Morrison was in the club to buy drugs.

“He didn’t need to buy in there. I never saw him take drugs, but he was always alcoholised, heavy on his words, a bit emotional. He’d be silent then he’d get up and say something really loud. You could see in his eyes, he had something important he wanted to say with a lot of energy, but it wouldn’t get past his mouth. It went through his eyes for a moment. That was it. He was fed up. He was not in a good place.”

Chauvel recalls seeing Morrison at the Circus with a blonde girl, not red-headed Pamela.

“There were other girls at his table who’d gather round him but he came in with this blonde often. They took photos, always Jim on the couch, in the same space.” [The nightclub manager, Sam Bernett, thinks the blonde may have been French-Canadian – which would make Robin Wertle, Jim and Pam’s 19-year old assistant, a good bet].

As for the narcotics scene, Chauvel equates it with the times.

“A lot of drugs, yes, a very free time for sex, a lot of jealousy and tension. The night club scene was heavy – gangsters and very bad cops. There were a lot of fistfights inside, which wound up on the stairs and in the street. There was a gunfight outside the club. I used to carry a bayonet for protection. Crazy but necessary. There was a triangle of these places – the Circus/Alcazar, La Bulle and Le Sherwood – big places in the same area. All heavy.”

Morrison lived a dual life: poet by day, obliterated by night. Moving to Paris hadn’t liberated him. For two weeks Pam and Jim shared the apartment before Lariviere split for St. Tropez with boyfriend Philip Dalecky, a drinking buddy of Jim’s. Morrison’s health was poor. He was suffering lingering pneumonia. He became asthmatic. He was prone to violent hiccups.

To escape the Parisian damp, the two young Americans decided to catch some sunshine. In April they travelled to Toulouse, visiting Andorra, Madrid, Granada and Morocco, where Jim had enjoyed the July climate a year earlier with Doors publicist Leon Barnard. On their return, May 3, Morrison seemed happy. He’d lost weight and regained strength. He and Pam enjoyed being tourists, shooting Super-8 home movies. That mood didn’t last long. Jim was often alone in the apartment now since Pam and the Count were, allegedly, seeing a lot of each other.

True to form, Jim looked for new buddies. He still frequented the Rock’n’Roll Circus and L’Alcazar, semi-exclusive dives by the Seine, patronised by the Stones, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and whichever rocker was in town. Largely unnoticed, Morrison would prop up the bar – a bottle of vodka in tow.

Club manager Sam Bernett claimed, “Every time Morrison came in he was high, or drunk; in an abnormal state”.

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