Jim e Pam: american boy, american girl
articles and reviews

 

According to what ex-Doors member Ray Manzarek once said ”Pamela is Jim’s other half”, “ Those two were a perfect match, I’d never met anyone who complemented his eccentricity so well”. Pamela Morrison, companion of the much mourned rock star Jim Morrison, died on 25th April 1974 in her Hollywood apartment from a suspected overdose of heroin. She was only 27 years old, the same age that Jim was when he died from a heart attack on July 3rd 1971. The analogies, however end here. Pamela’s death was certified, whilst Jim’s remains a mystery (in fact nobody every saw his body); this mystery induced many people into thinking that Jim was still alive, even Pamela (who in theory discovered Jim’s lifeless body

in the bath of their Paris apartment) said much later that she couldn’t remember what had happened; she didn’t even manage to remember seeing Jim’s body either being taken away or buried. She was very depressed after Jim’s death and in the months before she died began talking in the plural about “us” as if she believed he was still alive (whilst having absolutely no evidence to support that theory). ”She lived in an imaginary fantasy world” said Danny Sugerman, “she continuously flirted with death, wanting people to notice her, but carried on living her life in a risky and precarious manner”. Jim began his relationship with Pamela in 1966 when they met during one of the first appearances of the Doors at “ London Fog”. She was born in Weed, California on December 26th 1946 and grew up in an area south of L.A. where one breathed the conservative climate of Orange County (Jim in fact dedicated a piece to her called “Orange County Suite” even if this song, at the time, was never published officially.) Pam was only 19 when she first met Jim; at the time she was studying art at L.A. City College and couldn’t wait to explore the big city ( in particular the Sunset Strip zone). Pam had a delicate kind of beauty and personified the “Little girl lost” type (see “You're Lost Little Girl”), but when necessary she was well able to get herself out of even the most difficult situations. She was immediately attracted to the presence and charisma of the young Morrison. On his part Jim was touched by the sweetness of the girl, her warm smile and her defencelessness. It didn’t take long for the two to realise that they were in love and so began a relationship which, although it had its ups and downs, was marked by a sense of profound complicity. When Jim left for Paris at the end of the sessions for LA Woman, he did it specially to be able to be near Pam;

in fact the main characteristic of their relationship was clearly expressed in the words of the song “Queen of the Highway”. Pam was the princess and Jim was the monster dressed in black leather. After all they really were only an American boy and girl, or as Jim himself said” the most beautiful people in the world”. Even their problems as a couple and the general feeling of uncertainty for what the future would bring is faced in the same song in which Jim hopes with disarming simplicity that “things will go on for a while”.



Pamela and Jim in S. Monica (1966).

 

Pam was often present at studio recording sessions of the Doors. Jim often used to joke and improvise during the sessions: an example can be heard in “Five To One”, in which Jim repeats both at the beginning and end of the song the words “Love my girl”; no doubt these words were meant for Pam who was probably sitting in some corner of the studio. Sometimes the two of them lived together, then for a time lived apart, sometimes they each had short affairs with other partners; Jim in Pamela had finally found his other half. According to Miranda Babitz a friend of Pam’s since they had been at college: “they liked causing car accidents: that was their idea of fun. I think they really were made for each other – they had the same sort of mentality and both liked mind blowing experiences–they argued a lot” Jim and Pam were never formally married; on Jim’s death certificate Pam was noted simply as “ a friend”. Some of their friends believed that they were actually married even though they had only taken a licence to marry with them to Paris (according to Bill Siddons the ex-manager of the Doors). Another friend the journalist Jerry Hopkins said “I saw several papers that documented the fact that blood tests had been done; Pamela always said that they had been married in Mexico but I don’t think it was the truth”. She referred to herself as “Mrs Morrison” and Jim never bothered contradicting her. In a legal document dated November 1971 Pamela declares that she is the only authentic widow of Jim Morrison.”I declare that from the 30th September 1967 onwards I have always considered myself as being married to J.D. Morrison, to all effects I was his wife and at his death I have become his widow; after my husband and I began to live together about 6 years ago we decided to elect residence in L.A. in California and it has always remained so.

Jim and Pam at Ray and Dorothy's wedding in 1967.

We lived for a brief period in Paris, France up to the time of his death. In September 1967 I accompanied my husband on a tour which took him to the major cities in the US. During this tour while we were in the State of Colorado we decided to get married and have a short honeymoon. Jim and I had discussed marriage many times before this tour but according to his managers the publicity that would have accompanied a regular marriage ceremony would have had a negative effect on the public image that they were trying to construct for him.

Jim told me that he had heard from a lawyer that to get married in the State of Colorado it was sufficient that the two people in question lived together, had a normal conjugal relationship and that obviously were both agreeable to the union. So we decided to celebrate a “common law marriage”; in fact on 30th September 1967 while we were in Colorado Springs we stayed the night in a hotel, we made love and decided that from then and for ever we would be husband and wife. We had a short honeymoon in Colorado and then carried on with the tour. We then returned to our house in Los Angeles where we continued to live together up to the death of my husband in July of 1971. During the entire period of our marriage all the expenses were paid with Jim’s money. In the last one and a half years or in the last two years before the death of my husband we have received $2500,00 a month from his royalties, and we also received other sums from his Administrator Robert Green for everything bought by credit card or for advances given. All my bills for medical care, clothes or entertainment were made out to Mrs Morrison or Pamela Morrison. Actually I have been advised that the royalties for 1971 amount to $ 250000,00. I am completely without money to live on. It is for this reason that I respectfully ask to be able to obtain this remuneration for my expenses. Jim has never considered me as other than his wife, and used either the name Pam Morrison or “ my wife” when he introduced me to his various friends and acquaintances or to anyone he had anything to do with. We often spent the holidays together (including Thanksgiving) at my parents’ house with all my relatives including my grandfather, my uncles and aunts etc. Both Jim and I made known to our relatives that we had contracted marriage in Colorado, explaining the nature of the “ Common Law Marriage” that is law in that State. I wish to conclude by saying that I firmly believe I can consider myself legally married to Jim as from 30th September 1967, as he has always treated me as his wife. Of this I am sure especially after Jim has named me his sole beneficiary in his Will; he has always taken care of me and I of him, just like a married couple. I swear this to be the truth”. In 1967 Pamela decided to open a boutique in West Hollywood; it was called “Themis”.

 
Pamela and Jim at "Themis".

 

She went all over the world buying articles for the shop and Jim footed the bill. Even if he lost about $300000,00 in that risky affair for him it was OK- the business made Pamela happy and so he didn’t consider it a loss. When Pamela came back from Paris in the summer of ’71, after Jim’s death, one day she went into the boutique and poured perfume over all the clothes. Friends say that her mental state ranged from frustration to pain to complete delirium. “Themis” closed after a very short time, and in a very unorthodox manner–Pam at the wheel of her van drove straight through the shop window, breaking everything and causing serious damage to the whole building.

 

 

Pamela ans Jim with their friends at "Themis".

Others remember how, in the mid-sixties, they were great drug consumers (mainly hallucinating drugs-in particular LSD) later Jim abandoned this type of “entertainment” and turned to alcohol, continuing right up to his death. Pamela however continued to use drugs of various degrees and danger. “Occasionally she used heroin but she wasn’t a regular consumer“, said Danny Sugerman,” she used it above all when she was depressed, but she wasn’t a heroin maniac–she preferred barbiturates and tranquillisers”. The body was found by John Mandell, an old friend of Jim’s who had had an affair with her. When the police arrived they found needle marks on her left arm and a syringe near the body. Jim Martin a detective from the District of Wiltshire said “We are considering it as an accidental overdose of heroin. Until we have the results of the autopsy we will not be able to decide which substance actually killed her”. The Police remembered however that in the past Pamela had tried to commit suicide; but even taking this into consideration they were the first not to believe in the suicide version. “We believe that she had been using heroin for about a year”, said Martin but wasn’t able to explain why the Police had come to such a conclusion. Probably things went back to about a year before when Pam had been stopped in the company of a man, who not long afterwards was arrested for living off prostitution. Pam’s friends were absolutely sure that she hadn’t got into prostitution and was completely extraneous to that sort of life. In fact she wasn’t involved in the arrest. According to Sugerman Pam was very down as things weren’t going well ( in other words she was hard up for money). She felt very frustrated at not being taken seriously by the lawyers and the other members of the Doors. In fact she was furious at them for trying to sell the copyrights of “Light My Fire” for the Tiparillo advert.

Jim and Pam in the Hollywood's hills.

 

Jim and Pam with their dog Sage.

 

All copyrights of the Doors songs belonged as common property to the beneficiaries of Jim’s Will and to the other three members of the group.( Manzarek later met Pam and they got together against the sale of the copyrights). Diane Gardiner, publicity agent for Buddah Records and Pam’s good friend just said” She didn’t seem very depressed, I had lunch with her the day before she died and she told me about a trip she was planning to do in Mexico. All I can say is that she was an extremely beautiful person and for this she was admired by everybody.” According to Ms Babitz “ She was really beautiful- she had a certain type of pure innocence notwithstanding the irregular life she lived. Nothing stopped her. Men fell at her feet, fascinated by her need of protection .” Jim tried to protect her with his Will, in which he left her all his estate, but unfortunately it was that same Will that instead of helping, sparked off many problems. Pamela and the lawyer Max Fink who helped draw up the Will were nominated co-executors. For at least two years however Pamela wasn’t able to touch the money because she appealed against the instance of payment of $75000,00 to the lawyers for the costs of the Miami court case. According to Hopkins “ there was a brief pause. Pam changed lawyers four times even if she decided in the end to pay what was due. The estate ended up as about $150000,00 plus investments and other properties. She managed to get this just about a year before she died and the first things she bought were a Volkswagen and a mink coat.”

Max Fink claimed that Jim’s whole estate amounted to between $300000,00 and $400000,00.” In the Will there was no clause in the case of Pam’s death. The only thing was that she had to survive Jim for at least three months to inherit everything. If she had died before this period of time then everything would have gone to Jim’s brother and sister. Instead, after Pam’s death everything went to her parents – Mr Columbus B. Courson and Mrs Pearl Marie Courson". In the month of April before Pam’s death the three ex-Doors sued Pam in the L.A. Superior Court to get back $250000,00 which they had lent to Jim before he left for Paris and the action stated that Pam was refusing to pay certain royalties.

Jim and Pam in Chantilly (near Parigi) in 1971.

 

When Ray Manzarek was asked about this he exploded: “I don’t know anything about all this. It’s only those lawyers who want to put their little smelly excrement- covered hands on our money. It’s one of the most vulgar things I’ve ever heard.” For Abe Somer, legal aid to Manzarek and the other Doors “Certain things have to be done with the permission of the legal Authorities. The documents speak for themselves!“ He says that he is sure that the Doors all knew about what was happening, even if Manzarek states that he didn’t know anything. Pamela and Jim’s funeral was held on April 25th at Forest Lawn’s Old North Church. Pam’s body wasn’t on show and all those attending were expressly asked not to wear black. Ray played several of the Doors’ songs on the organ amongst which: When the music’s over, Love Street, The Crystal ship. At that time it was believed that Pam’s ashes were at Pére Lachaise in Paris, but later on it was discovered that the rumour was completely unfounded. In fact Pam rests in the Fairhaven memorial Park of S. Ana in California (not far from L.A.).

 Pam's grave at "Fairhaven Memorial Park" cemetery of S. Ana, in California.

 

Pam buried in the "Garden Courts".

 

Jim never bought a house for himself but bought a little bungalow for Pam in L.A. in the Topanga area. This is because Pam often wanted a quiet spot far from the confusion of Hollywood. Laurel Canyon where Pam and Jim had previously lived (it was described by Jim in “Love Street”) was very near both Hollywood and Sunset Strip. The new house in Topanga Canyon was, instead, preferable because it was nearer to Malibu beach and the Pacific Coast Highway. The lifestyle of the area certainly wasn’t “elevated”; it was a mixture of hippies, vagabonds and other “colourful” characters. Very different from what was to be seen in chaotic L.A.

Jim and Pam at the Flea market (near Paris) in 1971.

 

The house was situated on a small hill behind a little country style roadhouse that had a bar which offered not much more than an iced beer and music from an old juke box. Jim was so fascinated by the place that he dedicated a famous piece to it (Roadhouse Blues). The words of the first verse are nothing more than the advice he often gave to Pam on the frequent occasions in which she drove recklessly down the Topanga Boulevard to get to the bungalow: “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel, yeah we’re goin’ to the roadhouse gonna have a real good time”.

 

A special thank you to Tony Romanazzi for giving us so much of his time, for all his help and for having allowed us to publish this article which was originally published in n.5 of his fanzine H.W.Y.– Highway.

 

 

 

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