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Rock-n-roll Rashomon: Did Jim Morrison really rock out with his cock out onstage in Miami, 1969?
04:02 pm
Rock-n-roll Rashomon: Did Jim Morrison really rock out with his cock out onstage in Miami, 1969?

On March 1, 1969, Jim Morrison allegedly exposed his… er… lizard king to a shocked audience at the Dinner Key Auditorium that included, in the words of feverish Miami Herald reporter Larry Mahoney: “hundreds of unescorted junior and senior high school girls” for whom “…Morrison appeared to masturbate in full view of the audience, screamed obscenities, and exposed himself.”

It’s one of the most legendary and Dionysian performances in all of rock and roll history; but was the supposed “main event” just a legend or did “it” really happen? Did a drunken Jim Morrison, inspired by the anarchist thespians of the Living Theatre, really whip it out onstage in Miami and simulate fellatio on guitarist Robby Krieger or is this all just an urban myth?

It seems to be a little of both, perhaps leaning more to the myth side. Mr. Mojo Risin was obviously up to no good that night, and if given enough rope Morrison might well have pulled his plonker out. But did he actually do it or did he merely pretend like he had?

On March 5, the Dade County sheriff’s office issued a warrant for Morrison’s arrest for “lewd and lascivious behavior in public by exposing his private parts and by simulating masturbation and oral copulation” and other misdemeanors including counts of public profanity and public drunkenness. Morrison turned himself in to the FBI in Los Angeles on April 4, 1969 and vehemently denied the allegations. He was arrested on September 20th in Coconut Grove and on November 9, 1969 he entered a not guilty plea in Miami.

The trial began on August 12, 1970. Morrison rejected a proposed plea bargain that the Doors would play a charity benefit concert in Miami, and although over 500 photographs were admitted into evidence—not a single one of them showing Morrison rocking out with his cock out—five weeks later, on September 20, 1970, the jury found Jim Morrison guilty on the misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure and profanity. He was found not guilty on the felony charge and the misdemeanor for drunkenness.

Morrison was given the maximum fine of $500 and sentenced to six months in prison at Raiford Penitentiary including 60 days of hard labor. He was released on a $50,000 bond and a 20 date Doors concert tour was soon cancelled.

Robby Krieger has always denied that “it” ever happened. So has Ray Manzarek who told NPR’s Terry Gross in a 1998 Fresh Air interview:

“We’re in Miami. It’s hot and sweaty. It’s a swamp and it’s a yuck—a horrible kind of place, a seaplane hangar—and 14,000 people are packed in there, and they’re sweaty, And Jim has seen The Living Theatre and he’s going to do his version of The Living Theatre. He’s going to show these Florida people what psychedelic West Coast shamanism and confrontation is all about.”

Morrison poured champagne over himself and took his shirt off, asking the crowd if they wanted more.

“They hallucinated. I swear, the guy never did it. He never whipped it out. It was one of those mass hallucinations. I don’t want to say the vision of Lourdes, because only Bernadette saw that, but it was one of those religious hallucinations, except it was Dionysus bringing forth, calling forth snakes… And they started coming down on a rickety little stage, and the entire stage collapsed.”

Doors drummer John Densmore told the Hollywood Reporter in 2010:

He didn’t do it! I was there; if Jim had revealed the golden shaft, I would have known. There were hundreds of photographs taken and tons of cops and no evidence. Yeah, Jim was a drunk and a sensational, crazy guy, but he also was a great artist and I want him to be remembered for the art as well as the craziness. At the time, things were pretty political with the Vietnam War—the whole country was polarized, not unlike today—and he went to see Julian Beck and Judith Malina of The Living Theatre and was inspired because they wore minimal clothes and were going up the aisles saying, “No passports, no pieces.” It was pretty wild stuff. Jim tried to inject it in to the Miami concert, and he was inebriated, so it wasn’t so successful. Musically, it was terrible, but politically, it was intriguing. So that was his motive and then it became this sensational, “get the hippie band that represents the counter culture!”

At the time of the incident Doors’ manager Bill Siddons told Rolling Stone that it was “just another dirty Doors show. It didn’t seem to be too big a deal until the police chief took it on as his crusade”—but denied that Morrison had exposed his penis:

“I mean, no one in the group saw him do it. Morrison said he did it, but not onstage. Like he had been tucking in his shirt or something and he might have slipped a little. But offstage.”

Contradicting himself in the very same Rolling Stone article, Siddons also says that as he came offstage Morrison personally told him:

“Uh-oh—I think I exposed myself.”

The audience saw what they wanted to see. Or what Jim Morrison wanted them to see. Or maybe he did flash them his peace frog, but very quickly? Maybe he just pretended that he did. We’ll never know for certain. It’s just one of those things.

When Jim Morrison died in Paris on July 3, 1971 at the age of 27, his sentence was still under appeal in Dade County.

Robby Krieger maintained that it was just good old boy Florida politics:

“I think it was all very politically motivated. People were running for office, so we were a good target.”

In December of 2010—41 years later—outgoing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the state’s clemency board pardoned Morrison citing insufficient evidence for the 1969 prosecution.

Here’s some contemporary 1969 local news footage from Florida that’s pretty fascinating:

Posted by Richard Metzger
04:02 pm



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