Visual history of Jim Morrison’s grave

Background

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.

Fan tributes marked Jim’s grave for the first couple of years until a concrete grave curb was installed. It wasn’t until 1981 that Jim got a proper headstone on the 10th anniversary of his death. The headstone and bust were benevolently crafted and installed by the Croatian artist, Mladen Mikulin. The bust was stolen in March 1988.

In December 1990, the entire grave was renovated with a new grave curb and headstone. Mikulin’s headstone was destroyed.

The inscriptions on the headstones are Jim Morrison 1943–1971 and James Douglas Morrison, 1943–1971, Kata Ton Δaimona Eaytoy respectively.

As you can see in the photos, the grave, bust and the neighbouring graves were seriously defaced over time. One of the facing mausoleums was even dismantled. The graffiti was removed several times but kept coming back. In 2004, to combat the desecration, cemetery officials put up metal barricades around the site which drastically changed the vibe at Jim’s grave. For better or worse, I’ll let you decide.

The current trend is to attach love locks, friendship bracelets and stickers on the barricade.

Location

Père Lachaise cemetery
Division 6
16 rue du Repos
75020 Paris

The 70s

July 9, 1971 © Bettmann Getty Images archive
1971 © Patricia Kennealy
1971 © Patricia Kennealy
1971 © Georgio Pepperoni
1971 © Georgio Pepperoni
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1973
1973 © Gilles Yepremian
1973 Approximately
1975 © Keystone / Employé / Hulton Archive
1975 © Eric Bloom (Blue Öyster Cult)
1975 © Eric Bloom (Blue Öyster Cult)
ca. 1977 © Burk Uzzle-Magnum
ca. 1977 © Burk Uzzle-Magnum
1977 © Roger-Viollet
1977 © Roger-Viollet
Patti Smith at Jim Morrison’s grave
1978 © Rainer Moddemann
1978 © Rainer Moddemann
1979 © Rudolf Roelz
1979 © Rudolf Roelz

The 80s

June 1981

Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1981
Croatian artist, Mladen Mikulin placing the headstone and sculpture at Jim Morrison’s gravesite on June 4, 1981.

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 the year of birth and death. This was on 4th June 1981, just a month before the 10th anniversary of Morrison’s passing away in Paris.

From the Mladen Mikulin, The Portraitist of Jim Morrison.
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1981
1981 © Mitch Olson

July 3, 1981 — For the 10th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death, Doors’ members Ray Manzarek and John Densmore in Père Lachaise pay tribute (3m15s).

Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1982
1982 © Bella Manu
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1983
1983 © marcovdz
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1985 a
1985 © Dominique Combarnous
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1985 b
1985 © Ron Brinkmann
1985 © @KCMANC / Twitter
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1986 a
1986 August © Arthur Krasinsky
1986 © @pixenhoj / Instagram
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1986 August
1986 © Paris Mojo
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1987
1987 © Kees de Vos
Graffiti around Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise cemetery in 1987. © Greg Warden (jm11) / Flickr
1987 © @LarryWawa / Twitter
1988 © @endlessnoise / Instagram

The bust was stolen in March 1988

Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1988
1988 © Tim Bounds
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1988 b
1988 © W. J. Sawchuck
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1989
1989 © Bill Hillman
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1990 January
1990 © Martha Clement O’Neill

The 90s

Jim Morrison’s grave, December 1990
December 1990 (Image credit: Robert Norman)

“Anticipating a post-Doors movie tourist boom after its release in March, work has begun on overhauling Jim Morrison’s plot in the Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris. For a long time, Old Leather Keks’ final resting place has provided a makeshift off-licence, graffiti canvas and lavatory for visiting Lizard types, but now the unsavory debris has been cleared and a handsome new headstone has been erected. Jim would, no doubt, turn in his grave, if he’s there.”

December 1990 / Photo © Robert Norman
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1991
1991 © Jonah Olivo
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1991 b
March 1991 — Jim Morrison’s parents visiting their son’s grave, March 1991.
“Around 10 a.m in March 1991, accompanied by the cemetery Director and their legal representative, the Morrison’s spent a few minutes in front of the grave looking at the new gravestone that they had put in place the previous December. Mrs. Morrison cried and Mr. Morrison removed his hat in a respectful gesture. I had been told they would be there and I felt I should come and bear witness.” Photo © Michelle Campbell / All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Source: Star Magazine, May 7, 1991

Doors singer’s parents finally make peace with their rebel son

20 years after Jim Morrison’s death they fly to Paris to clean up rock idol’s trashed grave

Star magazine, May 7, 1991

After 20 years, rock legend Jim Morrison’s parents have made their peace with the memory of their famous son.

Steve and Clara Morrison—who deplored Jim’s sex, drugs and rock’n’roll lifestyle as leader of the rock group, The Doors—recently paid a visit to his Paris grave site.

Disgusted by graffiti and other litter near Jim’s grave, they took steps to clean it up a few months before the anniversary of his death.

They’ve also installed a new bronze plaque on the grave’s headstone with a Greek inscription that reads: “Faithful to his spirit.”

It was a dramatic turnabout for the Morrisons—who stopped speaking to their son years before he died, and have never said a word about him publicly since the. Jim used to tell people that his parents died in a car crash. The lyrics in one of his famous songs, The End, includes the phrase: “Father, I want to kill you…” After hearing it, his dad Steve—an admiral in the U.S. Navy—was so outraged that he never referred to his son’s music again.

Clara phoned Jim to invite him back home one Thanksgiving, if he would first cut his hair to please his father. “I don’t want to ever talk to her again,” Jim said after he hung up.

When his mother later attended one of The Doors’ concerts, Jim refused to see her. And one report claims he was buried in Paris because his dad refused to pay to have the body brought back to the U.S.

When The Doors movie was filming, director Oliver Stone asked the Morrisons for help, but they refused to read the script or let Stone portray them in the film. They later relented and offered Stone some of their son’s unpublished poetry.

Jim was born in 1943, the oldest of three children. He left home to study film at college, but dropped out and formed The Doors. By the time the group was famous, Jim had lost touch with his family.

Morrison was found dead in his bathtub on July 3, 1971, by his girlfriend Pamela Courson. Cause of death was listed as heart failure, but some say it was a massive overdose of heroin. Pamela died of an overdose in Hollywood three years later and the truth disappeared with her.

Since then, the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris has been trashed by thousands of Morrison fans who guzzle beer and play tapes of The Doors music next to Jim’s grave.

Even the bust of him that once sat on the headstone has been stolen.

July 3, 1991

A riot broke out on the 20th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death.

In 1991, the 20th anniversary turned unruly and prompted police to disperse fans with tear gas. Five years ago, police closed the cemetery early to the disappointment of hundreds of attendees.

AP Archive
July 3, 1991 © Instagram @dig_this_vinyl
July 3, 1991 © Instagram @dig_this_vinyl

1992

1992 © @Muggerharris / Twitter
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1992
1992 © Jorg Hensel

1992

Postcard from Danny Sugerman to Mladen Mikulin (1992)
Postcard from Danny Sugerman to Mladen Mikulin (1992)

Dear Mladen,
Sorry it has taken me so long to get in touch with you. Thank you for the bust you made, once, and hopefully, for the one you will do again. I’m not for the defacing, graffitti [sic], steal the bust for fans mentality. I think Jim deserves more respect than that. The bust gave Jim’s final resting place the dignity it deserved. I hope you can do it again. Legally, my and the Doors hands are tied, or else we would have done something by now. Only Jim’s family can authorize a placement on the grave. I hear the put some sort of plaque down but another bust would be beautiful. So, thank you from myself and the Doors and sorry about the delay getting back to you. Stay in touch, please.

Postcard from Danny Sugarman to Mladen Mikulin, 1992
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1993
1993 © Paul Tanswell
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1995
1995 @ Jim Morrison’s Paris
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1997
1997 © Ida Miller
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 2000
2000 © Sander Lamme

July 3, 2001

On the 30th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death, Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek pays tribute to Jim Morrison in Père Lachaise cemetery.

FRANCE – JULY 03: 30Th Anniversary Of Jim Morrison Death In Paris On March 7Th [sic], 2001 In Paris, France. Former Keyboard Player Of The Doors Ray Manzarek Pay Tribute To Jim Morrison On His Grave In Pere Lachaise Cemetary. (Photo by Frederic REGLAIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

“Guarding Jim Morrison’s grave is normally a job for one security guard but today, on the 30th anniversary of his death, it’s job for the Paris police as hundreds of mourning Morrison fans gathered to pay their respects to their Doors hero.”

AP Archive
FRANCE – JULY 01: Jim Morrison’s grave in the Pere Lachaise cemetary in Paris, France – 3rd of July, 2001 is the 30th anniversary of his death in Paris, France. (Photo by Chip HIRES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 2003
2003 © Linda Mathieu
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 2004
2004 © Jim Linwood
Fans gather at Jim Morrison’s grave at Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 2006
2006 © Javier F. Granda
July 3, 2006 © tain ls / Flickr

40th anniversary

On the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death, Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek and Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger pay tribute at Jim Morrison’s grave.

2015

22 thoughts on “Visual history of Jim Morrison’s grave

  1. Jim Morrison was a true poet. The Doors music will live on forever. I believe that no matter how much rock music may change and evolve, the rebel human spirit is the same. Everyone who has ever or will ever (past, present, and future) felt music down in their core/their soul. Who gets chills from listening to certain songs. Be it Jim Morrison back in the 1960’s, Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd in the 70’s, AC/DC, Mötley Crüe, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pantera, Pearl Jam, The Cult, Bob Seger, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, Audioslave, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Kid Rock, Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Danzig, Faith No More, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, John Mellencamp, Ozzy, Stone Temple Pilots, U2, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, ZZ Top, kick ass bands and poets who haven’t been born yet, or whatever gives people that feeling. It connects us all forever and in that way we all will live forever.

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  2. My goodness… can’t even be left alone in death. A urinal for children. I guess death doesn’t absolve one of a life wasted and debauched.

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  3. at least he wont have to put up with the god awful versions of his songs being played constantly…..still since i was there in 1990 things sure have been sanitised.

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  4. We were just there and visited. We left a painted rock at Jim’s grave. This explains so much and is excellent. Thank you for providing this history and the photos.

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  5. Visited Jim’s grave on the 14th anniversary of his passing in 1985.A lot sure has changed since then but the music has not, there will never be another like him again.It was good to see images of Ray and Robbie there-GOD Bless MOJO and RAY! Together once again.

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  6. Went to Paris April of 2014 and the first place i visited was Jim Morrison resting place, just wanted to thank him for his music. R.I.P my brother!!

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  7. надеюсь добраться до места вашей памяти, Джим, из далёкой заснеженной России.

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  8. The Bible says: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalm 146:4) Therefore, when we die, we cease to exist. The dead can’t think, act, or feel anything.

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  9. I think about Jim dying so far from homeaway from friends and family. How lonely he must be in that cold grave. The suit he was buried in was too small. I believe he was a great guy and he was a good person. Goodnight x

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  10. I was shocked when I saw the state of his grave in the eighties when I went along with a friend though I had no intention of going myself. Just few years back I ripped up the photos I took there which were most unusual and actually the BEST weird photos I ever saw. All I can say is that he was moved some time after my photos of Jim’s head moving upwards in one photo taken at same angle. The bus was part chalk and part bronze one time and next time I went his head was broze but the face was chalk. The new statue was ALL bronze. So I had actually IMPOSSIBLE photos which spoke for themselves but didn’t anyone would every want to see them. I’m not well enough to traqvel to PARIS again as yet but as I say there was a reason. He was moved. Thank God..I wouldn’t really like to go back to where he was due to the nature of the grotesque happenings around that place in the eighties. He deserved better and got it. I left a small print in a plastic folder with a message to the fans and when I returned not long after it was stolen so if the person who took it reads this they will know it was ME….Hope you took great care of it..Good ending..

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