Jim’ Morrison’s epitaph raises a question which has flown under the radar for nearly 42 years. Is it possible he actually faked his death? With BTE, I’m approaching the topic in a clear-minded, respectful manner. While it’s true Jim had the motives [Miami; alcoholism; he’d grown tired of stardom, etc] and means [money; prior extensive international travel] to pull a Houdini, one presumes he is buried in Paris. Still, certain unsettling scenarios continue to gnaw at ostensible fact.
In No One Here Gets Out Alive, the book’s authors, Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, noted Jim’s supposed idea of pulling a “death stunt” to gain publicity for The Doors’ first album. Hopkins and Sugerman also claimed Jim had personally shared with each of them the notion of “radically” changing careers to become a “suited and neck-tied businessman.” Additionally, they underscored “Mr. Mojo Risin’” as the codename with which Jim planned to contact those in the know once he “split to Africa.”
With 30 years of research into Jim’s life, I long ago concluded that a significant amount of information in NOHGOA was the result of Sugerman having embellished Jim’s story to help sell Hopkins’s admittedly oft-rejected Morrison manuscript. According to Hopkins, Warner Books rejected his solo draft twice before finally biting on Sugerman’s [along with Ray Manzarek as ghostwriter?] revision. Naturally, I can’t be 100% accurate in my deductions. However, throughout the making of BTE, I’ve come across a number of intriguing clues that could serve to reinforce such a seemingly far-fetched scenario as a man permanently checking out without turning in his room key. Stranger things have happened.
“Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?” ~ JDM
During my BTE interviews with two of Morrison’s high school classmates, one a retired judge and the other a retired attorney, each related how Jim divulged to them, circa age 17, his plan to “disappear” and begin an “anonymous” life. This was ten years before his apparent death. Could the adolescent prankster simply have been entertaining Rimbaud-fueled fantasies? Or was the brilliant teenaged Morrison plotting out his life story even then? A number of BTE interviewees have described Jim as an “actor” playing a role he wrote for himself. Of course, that could be said of all human beings, to varying degrees. In any case, without exhuming his Père Lachaise grave, no one can definitively prove anything, and we’re left to speculation. But each of us is entitled to our opinion.