A Doors Concert Once Got So out of Hand Jim Morrison Was Arrested on Stage

One of the most iconic, and tragically short, music careers in history belonged to Jim Morrison. Morrison was the lead singer of the popular band The Doors from 1965 to his death in 1971. During that time, Morrison and The Doors were one of the most popular bands of the era and created a legacy that lasts to this day. Part of that legacy was the free-spirited and defiant attitude of Morrison. This attitude resulted in a deep distrust of authority and government, including the police. Morrison’s dislike for the police was somewhat proven right, as the rock star was once arrested while performing on stage. 

Jim Morrison, two photos in black and white side by side: first, profile mugshot; second, straight on mugshot holding arrest plaque with the date 12/7/67
Jim Morrison | Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images

Who is Jim Morrison? 

James Douglas Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida in 1943. In 1965, Morrison started The Doors with keyboard bassist Ray Manzarek while the two were living in Venice, California. The band’s popularity exploded with the release of Light My Fire in 1967. The Doors are also known for songs such as “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” “People Are Strange,” and “Riders on the Storm.”

Morrison was the front-man and lead singer of the band and was known for his rebellious and wild nature. Nicknames for the legendary rock star include Mr. Mojo Raisin and The Lizard King. There is also a 1991 film about the band, titled The Doors, in which Val Kilmer plays Morrison. The rocker was known for his unpredictable behavior and performance style, which led to trouble with the law during the singer’s short life. 

Morrison’s infamous on-stage arrest

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Morrison was known as a somewhat wild and reckless individual, as many rock stars are. This wild streak once got Morrison in trouble with the police, as the musician was arrested while on stage on December 9, 1967. The arrest happened in New Haven, Connecticut, where Morrison and The Doors were playing a concert. Before the concert, Morrison and a female companion were caught making out backstage by the police who were providing security for the show. Not recognizing the musician, the cop maced Morrison in the face.

After some time, the show went on, and Morrison began to tell the crowd what had happened to him in a profanity-fueled tirade. Morrison pointed out the cop who was standing off-stage and began to insult him. The cop entered the stage and arrested Morrison right in the middle of the performance. The event caused a riot among the crowd, and additional arrests were made.

Celebrities and musicians being in trouble with the law is not uncommon, but getting arrested on stage while performing isn’t the most common. Other musicians that have been arrested while on stage include Wendy O. Williams, Bobby Brown, Fresh Kid Ice, Luther Campbell, and Marquis of 2 Live Crew. Morrison had several other run-ins with the law before his death in 1971. 

Morrison’s tragic death

On July 3, 1971, Morrison passed away in Paris, France. The death was ruled as a result of heart failure, but the circumstances of Morrison’s passing remain mysterious to this day. For one, no autopsy was ever performed, and according to a friend of Morrison who was with him on the night of the death, foul play may have been involved. In his book The End: Jim Morrison author Sam Bernett says the rock star died of a heroin overdose and was put into the bathtub by drug dealers looking to cover their tracks.

Morrison is buried in France, and his death is still a matter of discussion today. Morrison died at the age of 27, making him a part of the mysterious and infamous 27 Club. The 27 Club refers to the strangely large number of celebrities that tragically died at the age of 27. The strange and chilling phenomenon has no explanation, but it does have a number of eerie connections. Beginning in September 1970 to July 1971, three of the most popular musician died at the age of 27. They were Jimi Hendrix (September 18, 1970), Janis Joplin (October 4, 1970), and Morrison (July 3, 1971).

In life, Joplin and Morrison had a strange relationship, as Joplin once hit The Doors frontman over the head with a bottle, knocking him unconscious. Morrison also died exactly two years later to the exact date as Rolling Stones member Brian Jones, who also died at 27 years old. Later examples of musicians dying at 27 include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse among others.