Those of us here at CreepyLA have a particular fondness for Jim Morrison, even if his grave is elsewhere. For one, he sings an anthem that many of our readers identify with; The Doors’ song “People Are Strange.” But more importantly, we believe it’s no coincidence that Morrison’s nickname was The Lizard King and that he rose to fame in a city that is also home to secret underground race of lizard people.
In tribute, we present this map of Morrison’s Los Angeles – places he once haunted physically, and probably still does etherealy…
True story: Jim Morrison’s body was supposed to be returned to California over ten years ago. After passing away in 1971 in France of an apparent drug overdose, he was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery with a 30 year lease on the tomb. Alas, when the move-out date came up, Paris officials decreed Morrison would be able to rest in peace.
Whether or not his remains would have ended up in Los Angeles is up for speculation, but if his spirit is anywhere, it is definitely here in the City of Angels. Perhaps at one of these places…
1) “Morrison Apartments,” 14 Westminster, Venice.
Truth be told, Jim Morrison didn’t live in this building. He lived on it.
According to numerous sources, including Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, after graduating from UCLA, Morrison spent the sumer of 1965 summer living on the roof of the apartment building where a fellow film student work as a maintenance man. He subsisted himself off avocados and oranges that grew in yards around the neighborhood, assorted hallucinogens, and apparently not much else. When Manzarek bumped into him on the beach that June, he said Morrison had lost 30 pounds since the last time he’d seen him.
As legend goes, it was at this same chance meeting that Manzarek heard Morrison sing for the first time, crooning “Midnight Drive,” a tune inspired by his rooftop view. They discussed forming a band, and the rest is history.
Not too soon after, Manzarek and his girlfriend invited Jim to stay with them at the apartment, located above the garage behind 147 Fraser Ave. in Santa Monica.
2) Morrison Hotel, 1246 South Hope Street
To grab the album cover image for “Morrison Hotel,” photographer Henry Diltz had to go guerrilla. After being denied permission to shoot inside the actual, unrelated Morrison Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the Doors bandmembers quickly snuck inside when the manager wasn’t looking, and Diltz grabbed the shot. The hotel has since closed, boarded up, and left zero remains of its place in rock’n’roll history.
3) “The original Hard Rock Cafe,” 300 East 5th Street
The location used for much of the rest of the album’s publicity photo shoot, and also featured on the back of album, is the long gone dive bar called “The Hard Rock Cafe.” It looked nothing like any of the restaurants from the chain that lifted its name.
For whatever reason, the very same address would become yet another footnote in musical history when, in 1983, it would be seen as the pool hall location in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” music video.
4) “The Doors Workshop,” 8512 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
Visitors to the since closed “Mexico Restaurant Y Barra” found themselves quoting Ghostbuster Dr. Ray Spengler famous line “Listen… do you smell something?” as word has been leaking out that its unisex restroom is haunted by noneother than Jim Morrison. The building previously housed “The Doors Workshop,” where the seminal band recorded the album “L.A. Woman.” Morrison was so impressed by the acoustics the bathroom offered that he recorded his vocals there… and continues to make pitstops there from the afterlife.
“Jim Morrison is definitely still here,” office manager Christine Chilcote agrees. “Funky things happen all the time we can’t explain. Lights popping on and off at weird times. But when that bathroom door handle jiggles by itself, that’s the weirdest sign. It’s totally inexplicable.” (via AOL News)
The property has been vacant since early 2011, still retaining the hot pink paint from a previous owner, with some rumors swirling that a drag queen themed restaurant could take up the space. We’re hoping someone invests in turning the space into a Doors museum, or at the least invests in a new paint job.
5) “The Jim Morrison Room,” The Alta Cienega Hotel, 1005 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood
Conveniently halfway between where Jim worked (the Doors Workshop) and played (Barney’s Beanery) lays the Alta Cienega Hotel, where Morrison is said to crashed during binges or whenever he had a fight with girlfriend Pam. For $70, fans can rent the legendary room to add their name to the graffiti tagged walls, hold a seance to raise Morrison, or find out why one Yelp! review called it, “blech, wretch, nasty, but so historical, and a living, breathing shrine.”
FindADeath.com has pics from inside the room.
A YouTube user spent a Halloween night inside the room a couple years ago… and lived to tell about it!
6) “The Love Street home,” 8021 Rothdell Trail
While Morrison historians don’t believe he actually owned this home in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood, most agree that he lived there long enough to pen the song “Love Street,” in tribute to his live in lover Pamela Courson. The lyrics, “she has a house and garden,” and “There’s this store where the creatures meet” are apparently in reference to the property and it’s neighborhood, though we’re not sure how the line, “She has robes and she has monkeys,” fits in.
Over time, renovations may have changed the layout of the property. However, walled off is an original tiled bathroom, with lyrics scribbled on it that some people credit Morrison with defacing. Whether the bathroom was preserved for this reason, and whether or not the writing is his, there is photographic evidence to back up numerous eyewitness accounts of the “secret shower.”
According to Richard Carradine, an expert on Los Angeles urban legends, years after Morrison and Courson moved out, an artist residing on the property had a vision that he needed to move to Bali and build a totem pole depicting Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, and at the top, Jim Morrison. For a period, the totem, carved from solid white mahogany, was a fixture on the property. It is now on display at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD.
7) Barney’s Beanery, 8447 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
This place is notorious not merely because Jim Morrison liked to drink here, but because he also once relieved himself on the bar. In 2008, a plaque was even put up to mark the spot (so to speak), with former Doors bandmates Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek to help commemorate the moment.
On a musically related note, Barney’s Beanery is also recognized as the last place Janis Joplin had a drink on the night of her death (inside room #105 of the Landmark Hotel at 7047 Franklin Ave. in Hollywood).
Barney’s also still has a jukebox. The Doors and Janis both frequently appear on the playlist.
8) “Jim Morrison’s Last US Residence,” 8214 Norton, West Hollywood
Up until recently, the owners of this property would charge $10 admission to check out the apartment they claimed was the last place Morrison and Pam lived before they left for Paris. As a souvenir, visitors could bring home a bag of dirt. While the property is now fenced off, the owners apparently still relish the Morrison connection, as evidenced by a bust made in his image, protected in a plexiglass case, that sits in the courtyard.
9) “Pamela Courson death site,” 108 N. Sycamore Ave., Los Angeles
Due to legal entanglements, and a controversy that persists to today, it took over two years before Morrison’s longtime companion Pamela Courson was able to claim his estate. But it wasn’t only his fortune that she inherited – like Morrison, Courson also passed away at the age of 27 of an apparent drug overdose. On April 25, 1974, her body was found on her living room couch with a syringe nearby.
Random sidenote: Dennis Jakob, who allowed Morrison to sleep on the roof of the building where he worked, would go off to some notoriety for stealing the print of “Apocalypse Now,” on which he was an editor. This was either due Coppolla becoming involved with a woman Jakob was interested in, or because Jakob was upset with a creative decision Coppolla had made, depending on which source you read.
Jakob recently relased a book, “Summer With Morrison”, about his time with the rock icon.
Additional sources and reading:
- Gadfly Online: “After the End: Jim Morrison’s 30 Year Tenure In A French Cemetery,” Grant Rosenberg
- San Francisco Gate: “Q&A With Ray Manzarek,” Aidin Vaziri, 7/19/1998 (via The Official John Densmore Forum)
- The Soft Parade (LA Doors Tour)