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Jim Morrison posing rather seriously for his 1961 George Washington High School yearbook photo.
The counterculture movement had yet to fully blossom at this point, while the native Floridian attended school in Alexandria, Virginia.Archive Photos/Getty Images
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A clean-shaven and healthy-looking Jim Morrison spotted in London, England in 1968. Chris Walter/WireImage
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Only a couple of years before Morrison became the frontman of The Doors, he was arrested during a football game in Tallahassee, Florida for petty larceny, public intoxication, disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest.
The inebriated 19-year-old had stolen a cop's helmet during the incident on September 28, 1963. While he tried to stay out of handcuffs, he was unsuccessful.Public Domain
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Jim Morrison and his longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson at the opening night of The Beard at the Warner Playhouse in Los Angeles, California. January 24, 1968.Max Miller/Fotos International/Getty Images
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Morrison posing for pictures in 1967 — the same year that The Doors released their self-titled debut album. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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A confused crowd watches Jim Morrison perform — or navigate his inebriation in public. Frankfurt, West Germany. 1968.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Jim Morrison ambling through a church during one of his quieter outings in Frankfurt, West Germany. September 14, 1968.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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The Doors leaning into Jim Morrison's "Lizard King" persona, before its first literal appearance in a poem.Estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Jim Morrison holding Pamela Courson close in 1969.
As the story goes, the two met during one of the first shows that The Doors ever performed in Los Angeles in 1965 — two years before the band's debut album hit the scene.Estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Morrison takes a surprisingly quiet breather backstage while maintaining a rigorous tour schedule in 1968.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Morrison questioning the camera.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Morrison leads The Doors through a sunny set at the Fantasy Fair in Marin County, California.
Crowds cheered and sang along, unaware that 1967 would be remembered forever as the Summer of Love.Elaine Mayes/Getty Images
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Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson taking some pictures in the Hollywood Hills in 1969. Estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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The Doors arrive in style at Heathrow Airport in London, England to kick off their European Tour.
The string of shows would start at The Roundhouse in London on September 6, 1968, and end at the Konserthuset in Stockholm, Sweden two weeks later.Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Getty Images
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A bearded Jim Morrison gazing intently into the distance.Estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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The Doors waiting to go on stage in 1969. From left to right: Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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The man who serenaded millions with the song "Light My Fire" saying as much into the camera.Estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Jim Morrison sitting onstage in Frankfurt, West Germany. September 14, 1968.Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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An iconic photograph of The Doors posing for their very first studio album cover in 1967.Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images
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Jim Morrison was an avid drinker and smoker. He was often seen indulging in his vices onstage, like during this performance in the mid-1960s.Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Jim Morrison began calling Pamela Courson his "cosmic partner" shortly after they met in 1965.
They're seen here posing for a photo shoot at the Bronson Caves in Hollywood, California four years later.Estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Morrison throws a cordless microphone in the air as crowds gather for an outdoor lip-synch performance of "Hello I Love You" and "Light My Fire" for the cameras. Frankfurt, West Germany. September 13, 1968.
The band would hold a local press conference later that day at the city hall to promote the next evening's concert.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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A bearded Jim Morrison performing with The Doors at the San Diego Sports Arena in California. August 22, 1970.Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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As a poet, songwriter, and entrancing onstage performer, Jim Morrison had no problem showcasing his serious side. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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The playful Doors frontman pretending to scrawl across a German bus with a cordless microphone in 1968.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Jim Morrison and his attorney Max Fink arriving at the Los Angeles Federal Building.
The singer had been ordered to appear before the U.S. Commissioner for extradition proceedings to Florida, after he allegedly exposed himself at a Miami concert in 1969. He had been charged with lewd and lascivious behavior, indecent exposure, profanity, and more as a result.
Ultimately, he avoided the most serious charge, but he was still found guilty of indecent exposure and open profanity. Luckily for him, he was soon released on a $50,000 bond.Bettmann/Getty Images
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A production assistant using the clapper to synch both film and sound for Morrison's outdoor lip-synch performance. Frankfurt, West Germany. September 13, 1968.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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The Doors performing outside of Frankfurt's city hall for national television in September 1968.Bettmann/Getty Images
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The "Lizard King" multitasking onstage while singing, managing the microphone stand, and smoking a cigarette.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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It was often hard to tell whether Morrison's pratfalls were artistic parts of his performance or signs of his inebriation.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Morrison enjoying himself among the crowd in 1968. Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Jim Morrison playing with fire, as his art reflected his life — and vice versa.
He would tragically be found dead in the bathtub of a Paris apartment he shared with his girlfriend in 1971.Estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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Tourists pay their respects at Jim Morrison's grave in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.
This photo was captured nearly two decades after Morrison died of heart failure on July 3, 1971.
While no autopsy was ever undertaken, it's believed his death was brought on by a particularly strong batch of heroin.Barbara Alper/Getty Images
33 Photos Of Jim Morrison That Capture His Wild Life And Tragic Demise
Few rock stars have ever reached the same level of fame as Jim Morrison. But despite his superstardom, The Doors frontman still exuded an aura of a local barfly throughout his iconic but tragically short career. And these famous Jim Morrison pictures are all the proof you need.
Crowning himself the "Lizard King," Morrison embodied the counterculture of the 1960s. Embracing the sexual revolution and the antiwar movement, he created a mystical persona that thrilled his adoring fanbase.
In 1967, Jim Morrison's band released their self-titled debut album The Doors and quickly skyrocketed to fame with hits like "Light My Fire." Though Morrison enjoyed his newfound star power — and the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll that came with it — he also struggled with his sudden fame.
Long a heavy drinker, Morrison soon became more dependent on alcohol than ever before — and began to use drugs more frequently. When the perils of fame became too overwhelming, he and his girlfriend Pamela Courson escaped to Paris, where Morrison tragically died at 27.
Listen above to the History Uncovered podcast, episode 25: The Death of Jim Morrison, also available on Apple and Spotify.
Found unresponsive in a bathtub on July 3, 1971, Morrison officially died of heart failure. And though authorities strongly suspected a heroin overdose, no autopsy was ever performed. And so, much like his life, the full story of Jim Morrison's death remains mysterious to this day. See the iconic pictures of Jim Morrison that capture his turbulent life in the gallery above.
The Life Of Jim Morrison In Pictures
Estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesBorn to a naval aviator and a homemaker, Jim Morrison's career choice was a surprising one.
Born James Douglas Morrison on December 8, 1943, in Melbourne, Florida, the future rock star was always bright and intuitive. In school, he excelled academically — even though his father George Stephen Morrison frequently moved the family around due to his service in the U.S. Navy.
From an early age, Jim Morrison resented his father's authority and began to rebel as a teen by drinking alcohol. But upon graduating from George Washington High School in Alexandria, Virginia in 1961, he asked his parents for the works of Friedrich Nietzsche — reaffirming his intellectual curiosities.
Though Morrison returned to Florida for college, he eventually transferred to the University of California in Los Angeles in 1964. That very same year, his father commanded U.S. naval forces during the Gulf of Tonkin incident, a conflict that led to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in 1965.
Meanwhile, Jim Morrison was forming a band and building a relationship with Pamela Courson. And he stayed in college — to avoid being drafted.
Much to his father's dismay, Morrison focused on his music with his bandmates Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore, whom he had met through school and a transcendental meditation workshop.
Express/Express/Getty ImagesThe Doors arriving in London, England in 1968. Following their debut album, they went on to sell more than 100 million copies of albums worldwide.
The Doors' journey to fame happened surprisingly fast. But while their debut album took the music scene by storm in 1967, it also brought a slew of new storms into Morrison's personal life.
It wasn't unusual for him to drink booze throughout the day before a performance — and then become totally unhinged onstage. From shouting obscenities to improvising disturbing new lyrics, Morrison was often banned from performing at venues for fear of what he'd do next.
And as it turned out, that fear wasn't unfounded. At one 1968 concert, Morrison sparked such a violent riot among audience members that The Doors had to dodge the chairs that were being thrown throughout the venue. Before long, the band was forced to hide in their dressing room before sneaking out the back door to escape.
The Doors' producer Paul Rothchild once said, "Jim really was two very distinct and different people. A Jekyll and Hyde. When he was sober, he was Jekyll, the most erudite, balanced, friendly kind of guy... When he would start to drink, he'd be okay at first, then, suddenly, he would turn into a maniac. Turn into Hyde."
From the bright spotlight of fame to the endless supply of drugs, Morrison's rollercoaster ride never slowed — until it came to a crashing halt.
A Tragic Death In Paris
Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesSex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll caught up to Morrison in 1971 — when he was found dead in his bathtub.
By the time Jim Morrison allegedly exposed himself onstage while performing in Miami in 1969, The Doors had become a global phenomenon. And so the aftermath of Morrison's legal trouble attracted a lot of attention. While he denied exposing himself, a felony count of lewd and lascivious behavior and public drunkenness hung over his head.
Ultimately, he avoided the most serious charge, but he was still found guilty of indecent exposure and open profanity. Luckily for him, he was soon released on a $50,000 bond.
Morrison and Courson left America for Paris in March 1971 — hoping for a change in scenery. And in the City of Lights, Morrison seemed to be taking better care of himself. However, he also indulged in old habits and frequented many notorious nightclubs, perhaps sealing his fate.
On July 3, 1971, Courson found Morrison's body in the bathtub of their Paris apartment. When the police arrived, Courson said that he had simply woken up during the night feeling sick and started a hot bath. With her story apparently taken at face value, no autopsy was performed.
The cause of death was believed to have been heart failure brought on by a heroin overdose. But the eerie uncertainty of the night meant that his demise would be the subject of conspiracy theories for decades.
Other than his mysterious demise, Morrison is perhaps best remembered for being one of the most unpredictable stars of the 1960s. And he would never be tamed throughout his memorable yet brief time on this Earth.
A staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff has also published work at outlets including People, VICE, and Complex, covering everything from film to finance to technology. He holds dual bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a master's degree from New York University.