Jim Morrison and the Doors in History for January
Explore Jim Morrison and The Doors place in a unique timing, and the cultural, social and historical events which led up to that time


1845 - Edgar Allen Poe's poem The Raven first appears in the New York Evening Mirror. An introduction by Poe's friend Nathaniel Park Willis stated that that the poem would "…stick to the memory of everybody who reads it."

1889 - Blues great Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter) is born.

1927 - Writer and environmentalist Edward Abbey is born in Home, Pennsylvania. He is best known for his 1975 novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, which became an underground classic and sold half a million copies. It follows the adventures of four environmental terrorists, and conveys the message that it may take radical action to save the planet.

1939 - Writer and feminist Germaine Greer is born in Melbourne, Australia. She is best known for her 1970 bestseller, The Female Eunuch, which explored Western attitudes towards women, and called for an end to sexual repression. She criticized the institution of marriage and the nuclear family, and thought that people should live in communes where mothers could jointly raise all the children.

1958 - Paul Newman marries Joanne Woodward.

1961 - Bob Dylan performs at Izzy Young's Folklore Centre. That night he meets his hero Woody Guthrie at a friend's house in East Orange, N.J.

1962 - The folk-pop trio Peter Paul & Mary sign with Warner Bros. Recor

1963 - After giving the world such memorable works such as Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Road Not Taken, The Death of the Hired Man, and Mending Wall, Robert Frost dies in the heart of his adopted New England, Boston.

1967 - Jimi Hendrix and The Who perform at a concert at London's Saville Theatre.

1968 - Jim Morrison drives to Las Vegas with his journalist friend, Robert Gover.

1992 - Blues legend Willie Dixon dies of heart failure in Burbank, California at the age of 76. The former boxer had influenced a generation of musicians, including the Rolling Stones, and is known for songs like Back Door Man, Little Red Rooster, and Hoochie Coochie Man.

Doors History Spotlight: Jim Morrison is arrested in Las Vegas

Jim Morrison and Robert Gover meet up with friends of Robert's and head to a show at the Pussycat A Go Go. Jim borrows a Pall Mall from Robert, and practices his acting technique by smoking it as if it were a joint. This is Robert Gover's account of what followed:

'What happened next I can only attribute to the fact that we were a racially mixed group with two "hippies" and it was this mix that drove a Pussycat security guard bonkers. Affable Mike was the first to encounter the pride and prejudice of the guard, who suddenly bashed him on the head with his billy club. From the parking lot I saw Mike go down and heard him yell something like "Hey, what the hell is this?"

Then the guard came at Jim, who leaned against a wall and continued to placidly act out his joint smoking. The guard smacked Jim's head again...and again...and again. Jim acted as if the guard wasn't there, even when blood began streaming down. Chaney rushed into the scene yelling "This is an outrage, call the police!" Why the guard never hit Chaney, who is black, I'll never know-unless it is because Chaney is an ex-football star, and looks it.

By this time the Pussycat entrance is in a huge uproar, with more security guards arriving, people screaming, Mike in an Irish fury and Jim Morrison placidly bleeding, ladies nearly hysterical, Chaney yelling "Call the Police" and me yelling "Let's get out of here!" The reason I was in favor of retreat was that I knew from experience that Jim attracted cops like honey attracts bears. His charisma was such that your ordinary upholder of the established order could be infuriated merely by the sight of Morrison strolling down the street-innocent to all outward appearances, but...well, there was that invisible something about him that silently suggested revolution, disorder, chaos.

That night the Vegas cops arrived pronto. It didn't surprise me when they took one look at this noise, grabbed Morrison and bent him over the hood of their patrol car. It did, however, cause me considerable fright when they grabbed me as the other "criminal" involved, because I had a real joint in my pocket, and that could get you a long stay in a Nevada prison.

But our guardian angels were on the job. Chaney's loud indignation distracted the police long enough for me to slip away to the shadows, drop the joint and resume the position of the friskee a wink before the cops were ready to search me.

After the frisk, the cops cuffed our hands behind our backs, just Morrison and me, and shoved us into the patrol car. I was shaken due to the close call, Jim was bleeding, but worse, his demons were bubbling up. Soon they were rushing out of his mouth like a pack of mad dogs attacking helpless strangers in the forest. "You chickenshit pigs, you redneck stupid bastards." etc and so forth. I made an effort to stem this tide of demons, and Jim did try, but it was hopeless, for the demons had him now and were coming through in a hurricane of invectives.

It wasn't just our momentary plight that had aroused these invisible avenging angel/demons-it was also the temper of the times, the war in Vietnam, the plight of millions all over the planet who are unjustly harmed by such uniformed nitwits as these. Morrison thought and felt in planetary terms, and his mind had an uncanny way of reaching way back in time as if he were the reincarnation of a pagan priest who had been burned at the stake during the inquisition and was here to avenge that wrong, among others. When manhandled by the emperor's troops, it seemed he would rather be killed than humbled. In the heart and soul of Jim Morrison there was an uncontrollable rage against injustice.

At the police station, we were roughly escorted to a large office space full of people at desks, tapping typewriters, reading reports, sipping coffee, and performing other such police duties. Our 'hippie length' hair was not yet the fashion in Vegas, and our arresting officers had had more than they could take of Morrison's "disrespect for the law." So they made us strip naked in front of all those officers, men and women, with the clear intention of humiliating us. "Let's see if they're boys or girls, har har har."

But Jim at age 24 was Mr. Body Beautiful, and I'd been pumping iron and running, so neither of us felt much humiliation. Until, that is, they brought forth a spray gun and engulfed us in big clouds of roach powder, then made us turn around, bend over, spread our cheeks and gave us a final blast in the ass. That brought laughter from the assembled peace officers, but was by no means the medicine needed to quiet Jim's obsessing demons.

By the time we'd been booked, fingerprinted, photographed and thrown into the holding tank, James Douglas Morrison was no longer present. His eyes were out of focus and he was panting like a fire breathing dragon. That's when he climbed the bars of our extra high cell and drew my attention to the assembled minions of law and order by yelling "Hey, Bob, ain't they the ugliest motherfuckers you ever saw?" and other such endearments, delivered in that resonant voice and clear diction which was fast becoming his trademark as a singer.

There was no point trying to remind him that the police have the extra-legal power to kill you, or worse, to beat you into a brain damaged basketcase. Whatever force had gained control of him cared not one bit for the safety of his physical being or mine. Presently our arresting officers returned to tell us that they got off work at midnight and that we would then "have a date, somewhere real private." This only caused the ranting and raving coming out of Morrison's mouth to become more eloquent and precisely phrased. Even from behind those bars he was determined to make a dream-haunting entrance into the consciousness of all within hearing.

I laid down on one of the steel bunks and concentrated on Bev and the others putting their wits together and getting us out of there before midnight. While Jim preached from his perch up the bars, I watched the secondhand sweep around the dial, the minutes go by and soon enough we had only five to go.

Yes, they got us out just in the nick of time over Jim's protests that he wanted to call his lawyer in L.A., and file charges for false arrest. We'd been charged with public drunkenness, but walked out of that jail as sober as when we went in.

There is quite a bit more to this story, entitled A Hell of a Way to Peddle Poems which can be found in Frank Lisciandro's excellent book, An Hour For Magic.

For more day-by-day history go to HistoryUnlimited.net