It has been said that Jim Morrison idolized Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, and rock historians suggest he modeled his stage presence on an amalgamation of both. Morrison was also well-read, and favored works by writers like Friedrich Nietzsche and poets like Arthur Rimbaud. Morrison was dark and arcane, with his background and origins shrouded in mystery, much of which due to his own revisionist account. At the same time, Morrison was the real deal, and more like Sinatra than Elvis, he didn’t follow the rules but instead forged his own path.
Jim Morrison lived hard and died young, and when he wasn’t falling down wasted on stage, he was perhaps one of the most charismatic front men in rock history. The Lizard King partied harder than Presley (and subsequently died younger), while getting into trouble like Sinatra, which – by today’s standards – is almost cliché for a rock star, yet at the height of Morrison’s popularity, he was trailblazing the Rocker personae into previously uncharted territory.
Now one could argue that The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger was the true Rock Star prototype. One thing is certain: Jagger and Morrison had distinctly different energies. While Jagger’s eccentricities were (and still are) large and loud, Morrison’s were succinct and brooding. Jagger pranced and danced the stage, while Morrison prowled it. Jagger had wardrobe, Morrison had a concho belt and black leather pants.
Although James Douglas Morrison died in July of 1971, only four years after the release of The Doors’ debut album, his on stage presence was already being emulated by front men like Robert Plant and Roger Daltrey. Later, emulations of Morrison permeated the punk and new wave scenes, perhaps even lending to the Goth scene. Even the ever-skeptical John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) must have looked to Jim Morrison with more than a morsel of respect as the original bad boy of rock, although it’s likely he’d never admit it. And Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain – another member of the “27 Club” – epitomized a glimpse of Morrison, for a glimpse of time.
But – like Mr. Mojo Rising – disappeared into legend.