Updated 23 February 2021: See “Updates” section below.
July 3, 2021
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death. Jim’s charisma, artistic talent and controversial rock’n’roll lifestyle propelled him to icon status that continues to this day. Every year on the anniversary of his death fans gather at Jim’s grave in Père Lachaise to commemorate his life and legacy.
Fifty years gone, this year promises to be a massive event.
Jim Morrison’s death
Born on December 8, 1943, Jim Morrison died in Paris on July 3, 1971 at the age of 27. Jim was buried in Division 6 in Père Lachaise cemetery on July 7. In attendance at the burial were Jim’s girlfriend Pamela Courson, Doors manager Bill Siddons, Jim’s friends, Agnès Varda and Alain Ronay, and Jim’s secretary, Robin Wertle.
The coroner’s report indicates the cause of death as a “heart attack (natural death)”, “arrêt cardiaque (mort naturelle)”. No autopsy was performed, therefore fueling speculation about how Jim really died to this day.
Commemorative events, what to expect
Even though it’s early for organizing, especially due to uncertainty regarding the pandemic, I’ve already seen a Facebook event. We might even see the release of a previously unpublished “annotated volume of letters, poems and songs-in-progress”.
The main event of course will be visiting Jim’s grave in Père Lachaise. There will undoubtedly be more events such as tribute concerts, movie and documentary screenings, record and book re-editions.
Share an event
If you know of, or want to promote an event, feel free to post details in the comments.
Taking a look back
While waiting to see what events will take place this year, let’s take a look back at previous decades.
10th anniversary, 1981
Croatian sculptor Mladen Mikulin placed a headstone and bust on Jim’s grave. The bust was stolen in 1988. The headstone was ultimately destroyed and replaced in December 1990 by the one you see today.
“As one of his admirers, during the late seventies the young Croatian sculptor Mladen Mikulin came up with the idea of making Jim’s stone bust and placing it on Morrison’s final resting place, in an attempt to dignify his grave, which was at that time neglected, undignified and hidden in the Paris cemetery of Pére-Lachaise. In this way, he would also pay a personal homage to the American poet and musician as the torchbearer of artistic freedom. Thanks to his sculptural gift, in the spring of 1981 Mikulin completed an extraordinary portrait sculpture, which was then – overcoming international administrative problems – successfully placed on the fore-mentioned grave together with the base stone on which Jim’s name was carved along with his year of birth and death. This was on the 4th June 1981, just a month before the 10th anniversary of Morrison’s passing away in Paris.”from A Paris Tomb, Mladen Mikulin, The Portraitist of Jim Morrison
20th anniversary, 1991
The situation got out of hand and riots broke out.
40th anniversary, 2011
On the 40th anniversary, Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek and Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger paid tribute to Jim at Père Lachaise cemetery.