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Jim Morrison, the iconic lead singer of The Doors, died 50 years ago this Saturday, July 3, 1971, at age 27.
Morrison died unexpectedly during an extended stay in Paris while on hiatus from The Doors. He was found dead by his longtime girlfriend, Pamela Courson, in the bathtub of their rented apartment. His official cause of death was listed as heart failure, but the actual cause remains a mystery, since no autopsy was performed.
The late Doors frontman’s influence on music and popular culture has been immeasurable, thanks to his charismatic persona, his powerful vocal style, his exploration of dark themes and his talent for combining poetry with rock music.
Morrison had a fascination with pushing social boundaries that, unfortunately, coincided with a penchant for excess that included a serious alcohol dependency.
Doors drummer John Densmore recalls that he heard that Morrison had died while he was jamming with band mates Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger.
“[Jim] had been away for a few months and we wanted to make music and we were jamming on stuff, hoping he’d be back to help us,” Densmore tells ABC Audio. “And then, the manager came downstairs and said Jim had passed.”
John says that when Morrison was in Paris, he worried about the singer knowing his issues with alcohol.
“I was hoping he wasn’t drinking, but, you know, the Parisians have wine for breakfast,” Densmore notes. “[Paris] might not have been such a good place for him.”
As tragic as Morrison’s young death was, Densmore says he’s grateful for what he and the band created together.
“[I]t became bigger than its ingredients that came together in a garage in Venice [Beach, California,]” John notes. “And we gotta honor that muse and be thankful that something came in [that was] magic.”
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