Before Paris

Start by listening to this thorough podcast retracing Milestones from the last year of Jim‘s life by DJ Bennett (killradio.org).

Rolling Stone journalist, Ben-Fong Torres, interviewed Jim for the magazine in February 1971 in L.A. This interview offers an extraordinary glimpse into Jim’s state of mind just weeks before his departure to Paris.

When did Jim go to Paris?

Jim traveled to France for the first time in the summer of 1970. He returned in March 1971 and died a few months later on July 3.

Born on December 8, 1943, Jim was 27 years old at the time of his death. Thus joining Hendrix, Joplin, Cobain, et al. in the 27 Club.

Photos from the last Doors concert in New Orleans, December 1970.

Why did Jim go to Paris?

By Ray Manzarek

Letter from Jim Morrison to his accountant, Bob Greene

Sent from Paris, 1971.

Hello Bob—

How are you? The weather today finally turned sunny after a month of grey. Paris is beautiful in the sun, an exciting town built for human beings.

Speaking to Bill a while back, I told him of our desire to stay on here indefinitely. Will that be possible? Could you write & give me an idea of how long we can stay on living at our present rate. A sort of financial statement in general. Also, a copy of the partnership agreement if it was ever completed.

We’ve decided to turn the shop over to Tom & Judy so they can seek a loan—all but the furnishings & some personal things which we’ll keep. Eventually, we’d like to be completely clear of any involvement. Could you help figure out the best way to do this?

Incidentally, would you ask Judy for her parents address & send them $100.00 for the dog.

Any luck on the credit cards? We could use them, made out in both our names. What’s the problem?

And if you’d send our check when you receive this… house bills are catching up. Please send $3,000.00.

Give our best to all. Later. Jim

SEE ALSO Last photos of Jim Morrison

What happened in Paris?

SEE ALSO Jim Morrison, Complete Paris Guide

Postcard from Jim Morrison to Doors lawyer, Max Fink, postmarked 1971

Postcard from Jim Morrison to Doors’ lawyer, Max Fink. Postmarked from Paris, 1971.

Dear Max — it’s a beautiful spring in the ’City of Love’. Just returned from Spain, Morocco & Corsica — Napoleon’s birthplace. The women are great & the food is gorgeous. Say hi to all. Jim

When did Jim die?

July 3, 1971. He was 27 years old.

How did Jim die?

The information provided here presents a brief introduction into the mystery surrounding Jim Morrison’s death.

Official version

The coroner’s report indicates the cause of death as heart failure (natural death), “arrêt cardiaque (mort naturelle)”. The address on the death certificate is 17, rue Beautreillis where Jim was renting an apartment with Pamela Courson. Read Pamela’s official statement (in French) given to French authorities.
No autopsy was performed, therefore fueling speculation about how Jim really died to this day.

Unofficial version

  • According to Sam Bernett, manager of the of Rock’n’Roll Circus (now the Jane Club), Jim Morrison died from a massive heroin overdose in the toilet of the aforementioned nightclub (Daily Mail, 2007).
  • Marianne Faithfull revealed recently in an interview that Jean de Breteuil, a friend of Jim and Pamela’s, admitted to her that he “provided the gear.” (Classic Rock Magazine, March 2011)


Further reading

Before the morning of July 3, 1971, Alain Raisson, a French fireman, had never heard of the American singer and poet Jim Morrison. As Raisson describes it today, his encounter with the man that he found unconscious in a bathtub full of lukewarm water was “short, intense and very real.” Raisson and his team of five firemen tried to revive him, but failed, and within minutes of arriving at the light-filled apartment on 17 rue Beautreillis in the Marais district of Paris, it was Raisson who pronounced “Mr. James Morrison” dead. Lizard King: R.I.P. (Maclean’s)

Interview with Danny Sugarman, author of No One Here Gets Out Alive:

What happened the night Jim died?

After a call from Pam declaring “Jim’s unconscious and bleeding. Call an ambulance. You know I don’t speak French. Hurry up. I think he’s dying.”, Alain Ronay, Jim’s photographer friend, arrived at the scene accompanied by Agnès Varda. He recounts in Jim and I—Friends Until Death

Where is Jim buried?

Jim is buried in Père Lachaise cemetery, Division 6. Père Lachaise does not have an official website, but pere-lachaise.com has an interactive map with the most famous graves and virtual tour.

SEE ALSO Visual history of Jim Morrison’s grave

When was Jim buried?

Jim was buried on July 7. In attendance were Pamela Courson, Doors manager Bill Siddons, Jim’s friends, Agnès Varda and Alain Ronay, and Jim’s secretary, Robin Wertle.

Sadly when Bill [Siddons] returned from Paris he told me that the entire situation was a mess. I had been told that in Paris the coroner didn’t pick up dead bodies during the weekends. Pam had to maintain a deathwatch over Jim, alone in their apartment, that entire weekend. My heart breaks for her when I recall this story. Pam was to eventually return from Paris but she was forever changed.
from The Making of Jim Morrison’s “An American Prayer” by John Haeny

Who inherited Jim’s estate?

Jim Morrison designated Pamela S. Courson as his inheritor in his Will and Testament, dated 12 February, 1969.

Will Jim’s remains be exhumed?

No. Not convinced? Keep reading.

  • French authorities first tried to exhume the singer’s body and have his tomb removed to another site, but discovered it has been leased in perpetuity. (The Telegraph, 2008)
  • NPR’s Scott Simon takes note of recent comments by the man who runs the cemetery in Paris where the late rock singer Jim Morrison of The Doors is buried. The caretaker wants the tomb moved because of the many troublesome fans who come to pay their respects. (NPR, 2004)
  • “It is totally unfounded,” said Henri Beaulieu, assistant director with Paris’ Central Cemetery Service, quoted by the Associated Press. “Jim Morrison isn’t moving.” About 1.5 million people visit the cemetery every year to see the famous graves. (CNN, 2001)

Did Jim record any music while in Paris?

Update 1 May 2013

Short answer: no. Long answer: see the truth behind the Lost Paris Tapes by The Doors Guide.

Where can I find more information on the Doors?

One response to “FAQ

  1. Unfortunatley,all factors point to the idea that Jim did die in Paris,1971.Even though the mystique of Jim, and the Doors words and music live in most of our hearts and minds,i think it became inane and meaningless to Jim.that coupled with the fact he was a very heavy alcoholic,his body and soul gave out there in France in 1971,contrary to any other myths or beliefs,Jim is gone,yet not in spirit,one “myth” I subscribe to is that he was a true Shaman,with the soul of a poet,his words,songs and spirit shall be with us forever.


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