Dance in the Graveyards – Jim Morrison – 50 Years After the End
I first met The Lizard King between shows at the Cheetah club in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday, August 27, 1967. The Doors were performing a double show, one at 3pm for all ages and then at 8:30pm for 18 and over. I was 14 and relegated to the matinee. I didn’t know what to think of the performance. The only other live concert I’d attended was Herman’s Hermits.
Morrison was the antithesis of Peter Noone, aka “Herman.” Morrison’s wild screams and nearly incoherent ramblings were unlike any other. When he leaped into the air and staggered back with the mic in his hands, I turned for the exit. But my older sister grabbed my arm and told me to be cool.
My sister’s boyfriend dealt drugs to most of the bands that played Los Angeles, which was her entrée to backstage after the show, or in this case, the parking lot behind the Cheetah. Morrison was leaning against a car, one arm around a strawberry blond in a mini-shirt, and opened his other arm to my sister, who slid underneath and sat on the trunk, hooking her booted heels on the bumper.
“Hey, this is my little sister and her friend,” she told the singer. I blushed from head to toe and took a step away.
“Don’t run away little girl,” he cooed. “Bring that slinky ass over here.”
I took a tentative step towards him.
“Yeah, come on over.” Morrison took his arm from around the blonde and waved it at me. I froze, my girlfriend went for him.
Four months later, on my fifteenth birthday, I found myself tripping on orange sunshine acid the night The Doors played The Shrine Auditorium. I saw him differently, saw what others saw, a god in the making. Later, in a hotel room crammed full of people, I found him sitting with one leg thrown over the arm of a chair, the strawberry blonde in his lap. I was enthralled. I took a step closer, loosening the strap of my halter top. He looked up and scooted from under the blonde. I went to him. After all, I was now fifteen and more than willing “to set the night on fire.” What happened next is best left to the imagination.
Being close to Morrison, behind the Cheetah, and later at concerts and hotel parties changed my life. For the better? That’s a hard call. But expanding my consciousness; making me aware of bigger issues than just pissing off my dad, who was an undercover cop for the State of California; introducing me to mind-altering drugs and the transformational nature of poetry — kindled the love of words and free expression that have become a hallmark of my life.
Morrison was not alone in issuing a challenge to the “establishment.” His blatant sexuality and willingness to “break on through” all the rules and regulations, gave voice to a repressed, frustrated generation that was already chaffing at restrictions imposed by parents and governments.
But mostly it was about the music. They were talented musicians and performers; and their lead signer was indeed The Lizard King; and he could do anything—except survive.
There was only one Jim Morrison. He hissed out our lust and screamed out our angst. He took upon himself the hopes and dreams of an entire generation. A burden too great for any one man to carry.
Fifty years gone in the blink of an eye. But Jim Morrison’s spirit and talent are alive and well in the 21st century. He died young, just 27, but I’ll wager he’s still swaying the masses in whatever dimension he finds himself. And I know he’ll be dancing in the graveyards on July 3. I sure as hell know he’s not Resting In Peace. Not at all his style.
You can read a Flash Fiction fantasy I wrote, Dionysus at the Shrine, about an erotic encounter with the Lizard King, simply by registering on my website, Though the story isn’t real, it is based on a series of actual events, and my perceptions and desires at that time.
You can read more of my actual (aka non-fictional) interactions with Morrison, as well as Jimi Hendrix and other Sixties notables, in my memoir, House of the Moon: Surviving the Sixties. but most importantly you’ll read about what it was like to grow up in a brave new world that was supposedly free—free of sexual inhibitions; free of sexual inequality; free of prejudice.
There are many tributes to Morrison planned in honor of the 50th anniversary of his death, July 3, 2021. See below for links for information about events, The Doors, and Jim Morrison.