Welcome to our weekly feature Video Rewind, where a CoS staffer shares a video clip dug up from the depths of the Internet. Today, Ryan Bray looks back at Jim Morrison’s final show with The Doors and its lasting impact on the group’s storied legacy.
This week marks the anniversary of the last show The Doors ever played with their charming and enigmatic frontman Jim Morrison. While there’s plenty of Door fans who have been born and grown up in a world without Morrison, it doesn’t change the fact that the whole thing still feels oddly surreal. It’s no doubt because in that four-plus decades, the Lizard King’s rock and roll mythos has only grown in size and scope. When you’ve perfected, and in a lot of ways defined, the art of being an ageless musical deity, time is your best friend.
Stories of Morrison’s frequent drug use, fleeting affairs with throngs of women, the prodigious drinking, and his, um, penchant for over-sharing are larger-than-life tales embedded into the greater pop culture lexicon. Every time someone speaks up and rolls out their own Jim Morrison fable, it continues to take. There’s no rolling of the eyes or feigned interest; it’s just another chapter in the Morrison legacy that we all can’t wait to consume.
With that in mind, “Turn Out The Lights,” a documentary recapping The Doors’ last performance with Morrison at The Warehouse in New Orleans on December 12th, 1970, is fairly captivating. (Even if it’s nothing most fans haven’t already encountered .) Featuring testimony from staffers at The Warehouse and fans who were in attendance, all interspersed with archival footage from the show, the documentary paints a bleak portrait of the rock icon staggering his way to the end of a tumultuous road. This isn’t Jim Morrison, the suave and sexy poster child of 1960s psychedelia; it’s the bearded Jim Morrison, puke bucket by his side, passing out in the middle of “Light My Fire.”
Morrison’s legacy is checkered with awe-inspiring moments that have been eternally seared into the brains of Doors followers, especially those who weren’t lucky enough to catch the group in their prime. Unfortunately, the singer’s final years were riddled with squandered opportunity and even more moments of lesser glory. Just a few months later, Morrison would be found dead in Paris, his death a cautionary tale for the world to be mindful of who and what we idolize. Morrison’s untamable taste for excess might still be his hallmark, but this video painfully proves it was also his fatal flaw.