Outgoing Fla. Gov. Crist Wants to Posthumously Pardon Rock Star Jim Morrison of Indecent Exposure and Profanity Convictions

December 3, 2010 - 5:05 PM
Morrison pardon papers paint picture of wild night

Jim Morrison

James Morrison of The Doors in an undated file photo. (AP Photo, File)

Tallahassee, Fla. -- It's a strange sheaf of documents for Florida's governor to have. The thick notebook describes how Jim Morrison discussed sex with a lamb he held on stage, ordered fans to "love your neighbor 'til it hurts" and later, at trial, defended his boozy singing to a prosecutor.

 

But did the lead singer of The Doors show his genitals to the crowd at the 1969 concert in Miami, a charge on which he was famously convicted? Gov. Charlie Crist wants to posthumously pardon him of indecent exposure and profanity convictions, and the governor's last chance is coming up at a Clemency Board meeting next Thursday. Crist leaves office in January.

To prepare for the meeting, Crist asked his staff to find whatever information they could about the Miami concert, and the governor received a three-ring binder with dozens of pages. The documents paint a vivid picture of a wild night.

At one point, Morrison told the Miami crowd, "I'm talkin' about love your neighbor 'til it hurts! I'm talkin' about grab your friend! I'm talkin' about some love, I'm talkin' about some love, I'm talking about some love, I'm talkin' about love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love! Grab your (expletive) friend and love him! Come on! Yeah!"

The quote was transcribed from a recording of the show by the editor of a fan magazine and included in the binder, a copy of which was provided to The Associated Press. Other materials detail some of Morrison's trial testimony, a letter from Morrison's father to the Florida Parole Commission and other information about the long-dead rocker. It also includes information on other arrests of the singer in Tallahassee when Morrison was a Florida State University student; New Haven, Conn.; Las Vegas and Phoenix.

The research, much of it culled from websites such as http://rockmine.com, projects the image of a man who had problems with alcohol and had a penchant for mischief. But Crist believes it also casts doubt on the 1970 conviction. After reviewing it, he said he was reminded of something Bob Butterworth, his predecessor as the state's attorney general, once told him.

"It is very important to prosecute the guilty, but it is more important to exonerate the innocent, and I can't help to have that over and over in my mind with Jim Morrison," Crist said. "The more I think about it the more I think an injustice was being done."

The governor's office stressed that the binder is an informal report and that the Parole Commission is conducting its own investigation, the results of which will be presented to Crist and the rest of the Clemency Board.

One of Crist's documents is a reconstruction of the March 1, 1969, concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium prepared by Rainer Moddemann, editor of "The Doors Quarterly Magazine." He prepared it from a recording of the event, along with photos and witness accounts. Morrison often slurred through songs, or stopped in the middle of them to rant against authority.

During the show, Morrison put his hand in his pants and fiddled with his belt, but The Doors' road manager pulled Morrison by the belt and held him before he could unbuckle it, according to Moddemann's article. Morrison responded by saying, "No, c'mon, wait a minute! Wait a minute! I'm not gonna go on! I'm not gonna take this (expletive)! I'm coppin' out."

Later in the concert, Morrison was brought a live lamb. He talked about having sex with it, but ultimately decided: "She's too young!"

Morrison was acquitted of a lewd and lascivious behavior and drunkenness charge. He was sentenced to six months in jail and a $500 fine for the profanity and indecent exposure convictions. But he never did the time: With his case on appeal, he was found dead in a Paris bathtub in 1971 at age 27.

In a partial transcript from Morrison's trial, he told a prosecutor the custom-made leather pants he wore that night didn't have pockets. "Since the pants don't have pockets, sometimes I put my hand in, you know, with the thumb hanging out in lieu of pockets."

He also revealed he was wearing boxer shorts that night.

"It was kind of unusual, really, because I don't usually wear undergarments," Morrison testified. "I got out of the habit about four years ago."

At times Morrison answered prosecutor's questions sarcastically, such as when he was asked how much his band mates were drinking: "Well, I don't count how many beers they drink, you know."

The prosecutor asked Morrison about his singing being "off that night." Morrison said, "I am sure that you are aware that that is just a matter of opinion."

"Was it or was it not off timing?" the prosecutor asked.

"What is timing?" Morrison responded.

"Answer the question," the prosecutor ordered.

"Well, some people think I sing off key, but I don't. And some people might think I sing off time. I might not," the singer said.

Another item is a letter Morrison's father, Navy Admiral George Morrison, wrote at the request of the parole commission before Morrison's sentencing hearing.

"As in all his academic work through grade school, high school, and college, he was an excellent student. While he had always been an intellectual rebel, he had always obeyed and respected authority," he wrote.

A Florida State University transcript released to The Associated Press on Friday shows Morrison was mostly an A and B student during his four trimesters from 1961 to 1963. Some of his best grades were for courses called Philosophy of Protest, Collective Behavior, Essentials of Acting and The Nature of Theater. He received Cs in a few science course, and his worst grade, a "DC," was in intermediate Spanish.