Jim Morrison: from Boy to American Icon

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Paige Wallace
Mr. Vaughn
Advanced English II
27 February 2009
Jim Morrison: From Boy to American Icon
Visualizing his theatrical stage persona, gangling brown hair, leather pants, beaded necklace, grungy t-shirt or no shirt at all takes one back to the self-destructive lifestyle of a psychedelic rock icon. As an American teenage prodigy in the late ‘60’s, Jim Morrison developed a reputation as one of the most charismatic front men in rock music history.

Rock ‘N Roll’s future star, Jim Morrison was conceived by future Admiral George Stephen and Clara Clarke Morrison. Born on December 8, 1943, Jim joined two siblings, Anne Robin and Andrew Lee as members of the Morrison family (Burgan 8). For three successive years while his father was away for work, Jim resided with his mother at his grandparent’s home in Clearwater, Florida. When Jim turned six years old, his father left for the Pacific to fly Hellcats from an aircraft carrier. The Morrison family moved to Los Altos in northern California, which was Jim’s fifth home in four years. The excessive relocations of the family were caused because of his father’s military career choice. The relocations affected Jim’s childhood by making it hard for him to make and keep friends in his life. As Jim’s education began, he was always a teacher’s favorite, which led to his election as fifth grade class president. The admiration of Jim as a student did not apply when it came to other extracurricular activities such as the Boy Scouts. While a part of the Boy Scouts, Jim was kicked out immediately for sassing the den mother (Hopkins and Sugerman 5-7). Right before his sophomore year of high school in 1958, Jim and his family moved once again, this time to Alexandria, Virginia, where he would receive his diploma. During his educational process, Jim was rather intelligent, receiving outstanding grades throughout high school. Despite his intelligence, his rebelliousness contradicted Jim’s true character as a student. He once skipped class and used the excuse that he was having an operation on his brain (Burgan 11). His rebellions upheaval continued upon his high school graduation. Jim disappointed his parents terribly as he chose not to attend his graduation ceremony because he simply did not want to (Hopkins and Sugerman 22-23). Jim’s adolescence was over, but was just the spark of his out of control lifestyle that lay before him.

As Jim began his young adulthood, he enrolled at St. Petersburg Junior College in Florida. After completing a few courses there, he returned to his childhood lifestyle of constant moving as he enrolled at Florida State University in Tallahassee (Burgan 11). Jim’s unsureness of what to do with his life led him to transfer from school to school during his college years. When interviewed by Jerry Hopkins of Rolling Stone, Hopkins questioned Jim on how he decided to become a performer. Jim replied, “I didn’t think about it. It was just there. I thought I was going to be a writer or a sociologist, maybe write plays” (Hopkins 54). After going to FSU for a short period, Jim moved back to California and began film classes at UCLA. This was where Jim would follow his fate and make his own future. During one of his classes, he met future band member, Ray Manzarek one day. Manzarek became infatuated with Morrison’s poetic ability after reading some of Jim’s poems. Manzarek would soon persuade the brilliant lyricist to join his band, known as Rick and the Ravens. After playing together for a little while, the members of the band chose on a new name (Burgan 15). The band was captivated by William Blake’s poetry, which made them rename the band The Doors. They took the name because of the line, “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite,” which came from one of Blake’s famous poems. The Doors consisted of lyricist and guitarist Jim Morrison, organist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore (“Jim...
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