Jim Morrison and Pussy Riot, pushing the limits of freedom of expression

Jim Morrison and Pussy Riot, pushing the limits of freedom of expression

By Michelle Campbell

What do Jim Morrison, American sixties rock star, and Pussy Riot, 21st century Russian protest performers, have in common? Surprisingly, a lot. Both risked their personal freedom to make public statements about freedom, and both paid heavily for their gestures by being persecuted by the reigning authorities.

Decadence rocks

Pussy Riot

Let’s start with the outrageous acts of Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk-rock collective with about eleven rotating members. They were founded in August 2011, the day Vladimir Putin returned to presidential politics.

On February 21, 2012, Pussy Riot went to Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior and staged a protest performance in front of the main altar. This was a Thursday, during the day, so there weren’t many people in the church. Their protest was directed at Orthodox Church leaders support for Vladimir Putin during his election campaign. Four members danced in front of the main altar reciting their “Punk Prayer”, “Mother of God, chase Putin away”. All this lasted less than a minute before they were stopped by security officials.

Later three members were arrested and charged with hate crimes against the Church, the very same Church that suffered persecution under Stalin, so the persecuted became the persecutors. Pussy Riot became a cause célèbre, with Amnesty International designating the arrested women prisoners of conscience. Music luminaries such as Madonna, Sting, Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono took up their cause.

Two were later sentenced to two years in a penal colony, with the third getting a suspended sentence due to a legal technicality. Her lawyer pointed out that she was taken away by security before she got a chance to chant. Putin stated that the women had undermined the moral foundations of the nation and got what they deserved. He also won his bid for the presidency.

Rock’n’roll’s first on-stage arrest

Jim Morrison being arresting on stage in New Haven, CT on December 9, 1967
Jim Morrison being arresting on stage in New Haven, CT on December 9, 1967
Back to the sixties and Jim Morrison and the Doors. On December 9, 1967, in New Haven, Connecticut, Morrison became the first rock star to be arrested on stage. He began to tell the crowd a story that happened backstage before the concert, how he was making out with a girl and he was maced by a policeman who didn’t know who he was.

On stage the police didn’t like the attention and promptly arrested Morrison. He was charged with breach of peace, resisting arrest, and indecent or immoral exhibition. The police called it an indecent performance. All charges were eventually dropped, but this incident was a portent of things to come.

Under the influence

Living Theatre and loincloths

The week before the Doors debacle Morrison attended several performances in Los Angeles by the Living Theatre, an experimental group that still exists today. One of their aims was to attempt to dissolve the wall between them and the spectators. To do this they invited audience participation and often provoked them.

The night before Miami Morrison saw their piece, “Paradise Now”, notorious for a scene in which actors recited social taboos like, “I’m not allowed to smoke marijuana” and “I’m not allowed to take my clothes off” (see 3m50s in video below).

The distinction between actors and audience faded and much of the action took place in the aisles. At the end, the entire cast stripped down to loincloths, formed a human pyramid, and spelled out “A-N-A-R-C-H-I-S-M”.

That night officials cancelled the remainder of their engagement. This was too much even for Los Angeles. Evidently Morrison was greatly inspired and went on to use similar ideas and techniques the next night in Miami.

Miami, my ass

On March 1 ,1969, the Doors performed in Miami, Florida at the Dinner Key Auditorium (1), and what happened that night was not a normal rock concert by anyone’s standards. To begin with, the promoters cheated the band by taking out the seats and overselling the venue, so instead of 7,000 there were about 13,000 spectators packed into what became an oven. Jimbo arrived very late and drunk after having a fight with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, and missing several flights.

Drunk on stage, he invited the crowd to come up and “love his fucking ass”. In between half songs he called them a bunch of fucking idiots who like having their faces rubbed in shit.

Miami, March 1, 1969, Dinner Key Auditorium
Miami, March 1, 1969, Dinner Key Auditorium
At one moment, Morrison moved very close to Robby Krieger’s guitar and got down and watched him play. On the basis of this act he was later accused of simulating oral copulation.

He continued his tirade: “I want to see some action out there… no limits, no laws”. Somebody poured champagne on Jimbo, so he took off his shirt, saying, “Let’s see a little skin, let’s get naked”.

Then he went further, asking the crowd if they wanted to see “it”. He then danced around with his shirt in front of him, much like a bullfighter, saying, “I’m going to show it to you… Did ya see it, did ya see it”.

He was thrown off the sagging stage, now full of people, and led many in the crowd in a huge snakedance. Robby Krieger recalled that it looked like a scene from the movie “The Snake Pit”, where people were rushing around in endless waves.

The rest of the Doors escaped bodily injury as the stage partially collapsed. After the concert the floor was littered with beer cans, wine bottles and clothes, including bras and panties, showing much proof of audience participation. Some had heeded Morrison’s call for no limits.

Snakeskin

Whether Jimbo actually exposed himself is still subject to much debate, but at the minimum he did succeed in creating a mass hallucination. Even through not one of the 150 photographs taken during the concert and submitted as evidence at his trial showed him exposing himself, Morrison was later charged with the felony of “lewd and lascivious behavior” and five other misdemeanors: Two counts of indecent exposure, two counts of public profanity, and one of public drunkenness.

Snakeban

The concert had lasted almost an hour, but it was to have a very lasting effect on the Doors and their career. A planned twenty concert tour was cancelled and many radio stations banned their music. One newspaper headline read, “The Doors are closed”. Some say that Miami cost the band almost a million dollars in lost revenue.

More snaky

Morrison’s charges were reduced from a felony to all misdemeanors. He was found guilty of exposure and profanity and given the maximum fine of $500 and six months at hard labor in one of America’s most notorious prisons. His case was on appeal when he died mysteriously in Paris at age 27 (2).

Taboos become taboobs

FEMEN

Pussy Riot was greatly inspired by a Ukrainian Women’s political protest group called FEMEN, who, on December 9, 2011, demonstrated in Moscow in front of the same cathedral. This was just a few months before Pussy Riot’s ill-fated protest on February 21, 2012.

Now FEMEN is famous for demonstrating topless. They stated, “if we staged simple protests with banners, then our claims would not have been noticed”. They have been proven right. The internet and other media are full of their bare-breasted protests.

Strangely, most of the photos are altered to hide the nipples. Taboos become taboobs. Facebook initially blocked their page out of fears of pornography.

On August 17, 2012, following the conviction and sentencing of the two members of Pussy Riot in Moscow, a FEMEN member protested by using a chain saw to cut down a five-meter Christian cross in Kiev. The group was charged with hooliganism, and three days later the offending member felt compelled to leave the Ukraine for France and found a group there. Now FEMEN has groups in different countries around the world.

Game not over

Now Pussy Rioters Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, age 23, and Maria Alyokhina, age 24, are serving their time behind bars, far from family and friends. They said they had no regrets and didn’t expect clemency.

Ms. Alyokhina stated during her closing statement at her so-called trial, “you can only take away my so-called freedom but nobody can take away my inner freedom”.

The most important kind of freedom is
to be what you really are.

Jim Morrison said, “the most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are… There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level… You can take away a man’s political freedom and you won’t hurt him unless you take away his freedom to feel”.

Pussy power

The freedom fight continues thanks to media. Millions of people around the world have seen various Pussy Riot videos on the net. The documentary, “Punk Prayer” has just been premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, and the rights have been bought by the HBO Television Channel. The film opens with a quote by Russian Futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky:

Art is not a mirror to reflect the world,
but a hammer with which to shape it.

Filmmakers Mike Lerner and Maxim Posdorovklin said, “it’s not a film about Russia, it’s about all of us. It’s about the allowable limits of free expression… It’s about pushing the boundaries of allowable dissent, and when you cross that boundary, you get a very severe reaction.”

Many argue that it was the backlash of the Miami concert, the charges, subsequent trial and lack of public support that broke Morrison’s spirit. He was greatly disappointed that the press and public didn’t come to his defense. He told reporters outside the courtroom “the significant issue here is artistic freedom of expression”. Instead of public support, the Doors were banned from the airwaves and concert halls.

Morrison misunderstood

Morrison lived in the “land of the free” and Pussy Riot live in a “land of the oppressed”, but their treatment wasn’t much different. Both faced stiff reprisals for their actions. Both were charged and arrested days after the fact, after authorities had had time to think about their “crimes”.

Morrison was never affirmed or really understood for his Miami fiasco.

There was a difference in that Morrison’s performance was an artistic statement and Pussy Riot’s was politically motivated. Pussy Riot was criticized in Russia but embraced outside their country for their actions. Morrison was never affirmed or really understood for his Miami fiasco.

Doors Stoned

The band got more Stoned when Oliver Stone released his bio-pic, “The Doors”, in 1991. He chose March 1 as the official release date of the film in the United States, to coincide with the date of the infamous Miami concert.

Père Lachaise, rock is not dead

Because of the worldwide publicity generated by the film, thousands of Doors fans came to Paris, where Morrison is buried, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his death on July 3, 1991.

Doors film poster in metro, June 1991
Doors film poster in metro, June 1991

Père Lachaise cemetery could not accommodate so many visitors, many of them stoned and drunk in homage, so they had to close. All day the crowd partied outside its historic walls.

No limits, no laws

I was there photographing. I remember one young girl dancing and shaking her long hair for fours, chanting repeatedly Morrison’s words from Miami, “you’re all a bunch of fucking slaves”.

The whole day was orchestrated to Doors music and tear gas. The crowd sang, “break on through” as they battered the cemetery Doors with a metal barricade. They shouted “light my fire” when they tried to burn them. Morrison had sung, “try to set the night on fire” and they did just that. Some celebrants used a stolen car to finally break open the main gates.

They were repelled by security, police, and lots of tear gas. Twenty years after his death Morrison sparked a riot to Doors’ music. Much like Miami, the crowd wanted “no limits, no laws”. They wanted to see some action in there. They wanted inside Père Lachaise to “love his fucking ass”. The scene outside looked much like the aftermath of the Miami concert with glass and garbage everywhere.

Raw video

Freedom and media

The themes that bind all of this together are freedom and media. Both Morrison and Pussy Riot used media to reach their public. Morrison said, “whoever controls the media, controls the mind”. Pussy Riot understands the principal very well, posting their videos for world-wide distribution on YouTube.

The freedom man

Jim Morrison sang, “I was turning keys and setting people free… I am the freedom man”. Strangely, Doors music and Morrison’s poetry are not overtly about freedom, but seemingly more about sex and death.

Nothing about Flower Power and The Summer of Love here. Maybe it’s something in the life he led and his example of personal and creative freedom. He stated, “I want the freedom to try everything”.

I have met many Doors fans over the years who have told me that Jim Morrison helps them to feel free, that he somehow gives them the freedom to be or do what they want, to write poetry or paint, start a rock’n’roll band, or to take that new job.

The Croatian artist, Mladen Mikulin, who made the beautiful white bust that adorned Jim’s grave for seven years, said that he saw Morrison as a “torchbearer of freedom”.

Another example would be Monica from Poland. I met her last July 3, 2012, as she stared at Jim’s grave, clutching a copy of his poetry book, “Wilderness”. She told me that he had changed her life. Even though she found his music dark, there is something free in it that helps you to be free, change. She said she couldn’t really talk about it or put it into words.

Perhaps the best way to end is with Morrison’s own words. In a letter he wrote for an interview some months before he died, he signed off with :

I am not mad
I am interested
in freedom.
Good luck,
J Morrison


  1. Renamed the Coconut Grove Convention Center
  2. Jim Morrison received a full pardon by Florida Governor Charlie Crist on December 9, 2010. See http://www.jimmorrisonpardon.com/ for more details.

Also by Michelle

25 thoughts on “Jim Morrison and Pussy Riot, pushing the limits of freedom of expression

  1. About 2012, I attended an ART Show opening by GRACE SLICK (JEFFERSON AIRPLANE) @ BAL HARBOR, Miami. She showed her paintings of Morrison, Jimi Hendrix et al music artists. She said that when Morrison + The Doors toured Europe, people threw them drugs. Jim was clearly an alcoholic. “AA states that alcohol + drugs don’t mix. 2 + 2 = 5” The mixture probably killed him in the bath tub in Paris. Substance abuse is a health problem.

    A great Artist was lost. JIM MORIARTY, author of ebook on Amazon = PROFESSOR MORIARTY’S SHORT STORIES

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  2. Hi Michelle,
    Very interesting article and sorry it’s taken me so long to get in on the fray. You are correct in pointing out Pussy Riot’s violation was a political act while Morrison’s was an artistic statement, it was a conscious act that fell short of his expected execution.

    It can’t be a concidence that Morrison saw every performance of the Living Theatre the week before Miami and then in Miami he’s coincidentally using the same techiniques and slogans to engage, incite and jar his audience. Another point that can’t be considered a coincidence is, as Alex points out in August of 1968 Morrison expressed that he wanted a break from The Doors and Manzarek convinced Jim to “give it another 6 months” by the time of Miami Ray’s time frame had expired! The 6 months was up and I think Jim very consciously was going to make a statement that he knew would be profound, and he was going to do a Doors version of “Paradise Now.” This is so obvious, last year I was working with a filmmaker with Doors related material and he was not a Doors fan but when he saw the Paradise Now footage next to the Miami tape he got the connection immediately. The problem is Jim got too drunk to execute it well. Whether he was drinking to work up the courage to do what he was planning or whether events such as missed planes contributed to the drinking, but I don’t think Morrison was doing everything he could not to get there, I think he definitely wanted to get there.

    The resultant fall out from Miami was nothing Morrison could have expected or controlled. Yes, the trial should have been about freedom of expression and when the judge dismissed that defense (Murray Goodman was a very compromised jurist as his corruption case just a couple of years after Morrison’s trial), the counter-culture media should have picked up the banner (the traditional media of the time certainly wasn’t going to champion Morrison) Rolling Stone being the biggest counter cultural media outlet of the time (The Village Voice, and The L.A. Free Press were also outlets that could have championed Morrison, but didn’t) didn’t seem interested in the story. As a matter of fact Rolling Stone of the time didn’t seem to have a favorable attitude towards The Doors, whether this was a personal editorial preference of Rolling Stone founder and editor Jann Wenner is unknown, but even 10 years after Morrison’s death the Morrison cover with the caption “He’s Hot, He’s Sexy, He’s Dead” still seems dismissive and to carry some animus.

    Morrison may have been more a poltical target than most know about I suggest the book “We Want the World: Jim Morrison, the Living Theatre and the FBI” by Daveth Milton.

    Pussy Riot is known as performance artists as well as a band, Morrison did provide spectacle and primitive performance artist, or at least as title Morrison was interesting in theatre and went to L.A. like just about everybody else who goes to Hollywood wanted to make it in the movies, so the performance was always in Morrison’s mind.

    Thanks Michelle!
    Jim Cherry

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  3. Thank you so much for this insight Michelle. I was unfortunately born in 74, missed out on great history here. But I so fully appreciate your work here, very much praised from supporter in the UK. How would it of been to be at such a concert like the doors. Being a teen of the 80’s, is not too bad. The music generated from back then with so much influence in style, I wish I could go back believe me. I would loved to of had a grand tour of his steps in history, one day I hope very much to. Then meet interesting Door’s fans like you Michelle, who admires his most treasured trails and tribulations.

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  4. Very interesting comparison. Jim, of course, did his thinking, creating and performing in an all-analogue world. Pussy Riot’s brave participants protest with analogue tools that resonate in a digital world. But the clamping down of Authority changes little or not at all. (If Jim had lived, been convicted and had to serve his stint at hard labor, how different would the conditions have been than what the two convicted Pussy Riot members are currently experiencing?)

    The enormous debate about the film “Zero Dark Thirty” and whether or not it somehow endorses the efficacy of torture, is a recent tangent.

    Most of the time movies are “just” entertainment — except when a given film or filmmaker displeases somebody in a position of power. And then a simple movie is magically transformed into a potentially dangerous act of defiance that must be made an example of and discredited.

    Sometimes music is “just” music — harmless sounds for sale or rent. And sometimes it’s suddenly perceived as an enormous threat whose practitioners must be made an example of.

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    1. Very interesting points, Lisa. I think the key word is “danger”. Someone somewhere perceives your ideas, comments, performance, etc. as dangerous, or uses the idea to convince others that they are dangerous, but dangerous to what, a perceived order of things or society or what. I did say at the beginning of my article that it contained “dangerous ideas”. In the end all ideas do is get people to think, which is very dangerous indeed.

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  5. Right on point as usual, Michelle, really good observations… thanks for letting me know about this. JM would love PR… This brings back some good memories too. 😉

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  6. This is one of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a while about the rebellious Jim Morrison. I think you raise valid points about the influence of Tytell’s Living Theater troupe on Jim’s own ideas about freedom of artistic expression. Aside from his increasing abuse of alcohol towards the end, most of his stage antics were carefully orchestrated according to his own set of artistic principles. The works of crowd psychologists and other notorious artistic anarchists like Antonin Artaud, influenced his style and stage performances. I’m not sure about the Pussy Riot comparison as theirs was more of an exercise in protest than the aesthetic manipulation of an audience (although I guess that could be argued with the virtual reality of audiences these days – Youtube, Vemo, CNN etc). I discuss the same subject (minus Pussy Riot) in an article I wrote a while back that your readers might find of interest Michelle. Here is a quote from it:

    “In his book The Living Theatre, Art, Exile, and Outrage,44 John Tytell recalls Morrison and poet-friend Michael McClure participating in performances of Paradise Now with ‘The Living Theatre’ company. He also recalls how Morrison offered financial aid to the theatre troupe such was his commitment to the art. Tytell offers an important insight into Morrison’s political and aesthetic beliefs and also his loyalty and support of fellow artists:
    Morrison — who had read Artaud and Ginsberg in college — saw himself as a revolutionary figure. Agreeing that repression was the chief social evil in America and the cause of a general pathology, he was typical of the sectors of support The Living Theatre had received in America. His long improvisational song “When the Music’s Over” was a basic statement of apocalypse. Another of his songs proclaims, as in Paradise Now, “we want the world and we want it now.” Morrison had seen every performance in Los Angeles and followed the company up to San Francisco.45
    The founder of the Theatre-of-Cruelty, Antonin Artaud, described the motifs of his plays in his manifesto Theatre and Cruelty, as ‘eroticism, savagery, bloodlust, a thirst for violence, an obsession with horror, collapse of moral values, social hypocrisy, lies, sadism, the plague, disease and depravity’ amongst other things.46 Upon reading Morrison’s poetry, this appears to be a catalogue of his themes and subjects.
    As Tytell recollects, Morrison read Antonin Artaud’s theoretical ideas, and saw them performed by The Living Theatre Company, which affected his own performances with The Doors.” From http://jimmorrisonspoetry.blogspot.com/

    Thanks for the interesting article Michelle, look forward to the next.

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    1. Thanks, William, for all this interesting information. I think fans don’t know enough about who all influenced Jim Morrison, and how intellectual and literary his work really was. Your points certainly illustrate this, and help us all to understand Jim and his influences a little better.

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    2. Interesting as always Will but I find that many Doors fans seem to look at the tree and miss some of the woods.
      Morrison may well have been a big fan of TLT but he supported the LA Art Squad and several West Coast poets as well. He was more than just a rock star he was the real deal when it came to having pretentions of being a poet unlike many who don’t get such a bad rap as Jim.
      However Miami for me is not about a drunken argument with Pam and a dose of TLT.
      One of the things that gets overlooked in all this is not that Jim was drunk when he got to Miami but how much trouble he went to NOT to get there.
      The time line for me goes back to the summer of 1968, and even further back to the recording of the COTL LP in February 1968, when Jim asked for a rest and was famously told by Ray to ‘give it six more months man!’
      Six months later in the British media there was an announcement that The Doors would embark on thier biggest tour of the US.
      Now I doubt very much that Jim Morrison was the one pushing for such a tour as he needed a break and said so. Of course some people have opined that it was just Jim having a moan and not a big deal.
      But as he’s dead let’s run with Jim’s version.
      He does a European tour and gets his second wind and seems to enjoy that then comes home to find his mates had sold him out behind his back and when he took them to task they lied and said it was Holzman’s fault. (In Follow The Music JH says just that).

      He starts telling his friends that he does not have band mates but business partners and after this many people mention that he does not like being in The Doors company after this time.
      In the recent Doug Cameron book he mentions a story that the Coursons told him that Jim actually attacked Ray and only intervention by the other two saved Ray from a visit to the hospital.
      So with all of this bubbling under through 68 until the new US tour it has to be a factor that Jim rather than making an artistic statement might of been hoping that a no show for the first few dates might make the tour go away.
      We know hewas not that good with this kind of stuff and retreated into the bottle when faced with it.
      So may not his Miami stance have been nothing more than a really pissed off Jim Morrison thinking, after being practically dragged to Miami, ‘I’ll give you a US tour’ and attempting to scupper the whole thing and nip it in the bud.
      His relationship with band, audience, producer and record company beginning to wear thin after the collapse of his poetry album COTL in March 1969 under circumstances that seem a bit suspect considering the time spent on the poppy TSP album a year later.
      Morrison’s poetry dreams of a Doors not in line with everybody else. was COTL a step too far for Elektra who wanted more hits. Did the band collude with company and producer to deprive Morrison of the album he really wanted in favour of record sales.
      Did this start a series of synchronistic events that ended on stage in Miami.
      We will probably never know but it sure as hell makes this lot the most interesting band I have ever come across in over 50 years of listening to rock music. 🙂

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    3. Hey, again, Alex, as always, interesting
      comments. It’s sure that there was discontent in the band, but I think no matter how strange it was, Miami was still a work of Morrison art, that it was more planned than people imagine. You raise interesting points if part of the plan was due to band/Morrison discontent. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Jimbo hadn’t been quite so drunk that night, or if he had insisted on his leave of absence.

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    4. Planned as perhaps he intended to do something to make sure this tour never happened I agree.
      But he made such an effort not to go to Miami I doubt he planned to do it that night.
      How much drink plays we will never know.
      The famous shot of him looking down on the empty hall shows him not looking as drunk as we have been led to believe.
      How much this boxer short story of Treanors is true we cannot tell from photos.
      That would indicate planning. But when was the plan conceived we cannot know. Did he decide after being dragged to Miami that enough was enough?
      Maybe he got pointers from TLT but cannot agree on the work of art angle.
      We can argue about how similar the rant was to Rock is Dead which again points to planning. But it may be nothing more than opportunism after ending up in a place he was trying to avoid being in.
      For me the telling point is the six month thing followed six month later by the bands most ambitious tour being announced in the media.
      The TLT and Pam argument for me are red herrings as is the idea this was some kind of artistic performance in favour of freedom of speech.
      Our biggest problem is we have been weaned on these ideas by The Doors themselves and they are liars plain and simple.
      The evidence is overwhelming on that score as they lied about Buick and they lied about suing Morrison after he died and driving Pam into the grave pestering her for the money they believed Jim owed them.
      They have lied for 40 years about Morrison leaving the band and still use the fantasy that he was somehow on vacation.
      They have covered up a huge amount regarding thier relationship with Morrison ending with thier mistrust of him in March 1971 when they made him sign the now infamous contract amendment as they did not trust him and thought he was going to back stab them when he got to Europe.
      Jim was a lot of things but backstabber….NEVER!
      He showed a lot of loyalty to those three and they repayed that with 40 years of whining and the disgraceful DiCillo rubbish.

      No one has done more to make Morrison out to be some insane drunken lunatic than they have. With friends like those three no wonder he preferred to be drunk than spend any time in a room with them. 🙂

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    5. Hey, Alex, let’s not forget that Morrison did go to Living Theater performances for the full week before, even the night before, so they did have an influence, he used key phrases and ideas from them during Miami concert, but we’ll never know about any of the rest of it, all selective memory and history. I do appreciate all your factual knowledge and your love for the music.

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    6. This is true as he obviously liked what they did.
      But did he intend to go to Miami? My gut says no! He was practically dragged there and I am sure he had the last couple of nights performances on his mind. TLT played a role but I don’t feel that it was as important or as central as many Doors fans feel.
      Wish we had more information about the periodod from February 1968 until Miami. The COTL album period especially. Jim is portrayed (mostly by his so call mates) as a drunk trying to disrupt what would become the WFTS sessions. The Richard Goldstein article The Shaman As Superstar deals with the period just before COTL album was dumped for WFTS.
      Jim the drunken belligerent pissed that his opus was never going to see the side and a half of an album covered in faux lizard skin.
      This is the overwhelming feel we get for that 3rd album.
      Jim the pain in the ass drunken tosspot.
      But during the COTL album period Morrison is reported to be working hard to correct the initial failures of the piece, which the LA Times report was 36 minutes long, after Rothchild identifies it’s flaws.
      But the thing that bugs me is that the recording of COTL began on February 19th but in less than a month was dead in the water
      Did Elektra put pressure on the producer to shelve this in favour of a more commercial release?
      Did the band themselves help to end Morrison’s dreams of a poetry album?
      After all they were a hit band and liked it. Only Morrison was unconcerned by success. This for me is the moment The Doors split. Only one of them had the Venice Beach dream of changing the world. The other three were mostly in it for the money.

      It just seemed considering the time spent on the bands weakest album, TSP, that such a small amount of time was given to something so groundbreaking.
      Morrison seems to have reacted badly to this and was never the same again. The Doors never completed an album as stunning as the debut or Strange Days (thier best for me) until Morrison knew it was his last album with the band as he planned to leave The Doors, and said just that, before he left for Europe.
      For me the seed that would become Miami began to germinate pretty much 12 months before at TTG recording studios in LA.

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    7. Hey, William, the comparison I’m trying to make is not about audience, music, etc., but the idea that a performance can get you jail time. Pussy Riot’s was political and Jim’s was creative, but prison is prison. They didn’t harm anybody, just insult their delicate sensibilities. The net didn’t exist in Morrison’s time, and it certainly did change everything as far as audience and promotional possibilities, and you don’t have to be a rock star to get your ideas across. Sadly PR got 2 yrs for 40 sec. One can debate whether it was a good idea or not, church, etc., but does the punishment fit the crime, for Morrison or them. Again, I’m glad that we can debate all this.

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    8. But there was a political element to Morrison’s bust that bears similarity to the Pussy Riot one.
      In Miami certain people wanted to extend thier power and used a big star to promote themselves so that when elections came they would benefit from kicking the ass of such a high profile star.
      Ellen ‘Maximum’ Morphonios one who didn’t do too bad out of being involved.
      In Russia corrupt politicians used TPR to court the backing of an even more corrupt organisation, the chuch.
      The corrupt Judge Murray Goodman used The Doors to further his career as did the DA’s office.
      Of course there are crucial differences too.
      Pussy Riot showed a lot of courage doing what they did as they must have known the consequences would be severe.
      Morrison was just drunk and annoyed and did not think the consequences would be more than a slap on the wrist and hopefully a rest from The Doors.
      Morrison is feted for standing for something in Miami but I think that really bogus as he never ‘really’ stood up for anything other than his own art.
      The guy was an artist no doubt and had a lot of integrity but was never any kind of ‘working class hero’ type as Pussy Riot could lay claim to be.
      He was from a well off background and never really had to struggle in any way except for his art.
      Pussy Riot, whom I know nothing about, put thier lives on the line in a way Morrison never did.
      He deserves credit for standing up for his art and showing unshakable loyalty to The Doors but if he had been gifted with hindsight as to the consequences of Miami for him I doubt he would have been as drunk or foolish as he was that night.
      New Haven was a much braver and worthy stance as regards standing up for something.

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    9. Yes, Alex, “Celebration of the Lizard” is an interesting story, again, I wonder how it all would have turned out if this had been put on record when Jim wanted. We have to admit that it wasn’t really rock ‘n roll and didn’t fit with everybody’s conception if what should be on an album, but boy, is it something to hear, as far as poetry. Sad that Morrison didn’t get to use The Doors more as a forum for his poetry. As it was/is, his song lyrics are some of the most interesting in rock.

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    1. I was there, Mark, and I’m amazed by the intensity of some of the scenes in the video. It is also wonderful to see old friends.

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    2. Hey, Alex, the only name I see next to the gate is “Jim”, and so far I’m holding off on the name change-ha!

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  7. Very thought provoking Michelle. I am not that familiar with Pussy Riot other than what I have seen on the news but have heard of Morrison.
    It’s an interesting comparisson with modern Russia and 60s/70s America and how far freedom actually goes/went in both places then and now.

    I am not of the view that Morrison was that influenced by drink, Living Theatre etc on March 1st 1969. I think his New Haven stand was more in line with PR than Miami. The Miami thing had roots that went back about 12 months.
    Listen to songs like Old Stone Road, Universal Mind (which you quote), Who Scared You, Someday Soon, and poems such as Jamaica for Morrison’s state of mind with regards his relationship with band mates and audience.
    Read his Paris Journal notes. He truly did carry a heavy load.

    I think Pussy Riot had a cause where Jim Morrison was just trying to survive the 60s.
    Miami became a lot more than it was intended to be.
    Interesting how politicians always quote morality when they by definition usually the least moral among us.
    Morrison made a lot of errors in the 60s and that was one with consequences he had not quite forseen.
    Doors fans see far too much in Miami whereas Troy the night before on his birthday and New Haven itself are far more interesting.

    I wonder how Pussy Riot will be remembered in Russia in 20 years time.

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