The Story Of Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, The Rock Critic Who Claimed That She Married Jim Morrison

Published April 28, 2022
Updated May 12, 2022

Patricia Kennealy-Morrison famously said that she and Jim Morrison were wed in June 1970 during a Celtic handfasting ceremony — where they drank each other’s blood.

Patricia Kennealy Morrison

Tim Roney/Getty ImagesPatricia Kennealy-Morrison, circa 1990.

Patricia Kennealy-Morrison was one of the first female rock journalists, a pioneer in the genre who paved the way for countless women in rock today. But she isn’t known primarily for her pioneering work.

Instead, she’s known as Jim Morrison’s wife, who she says she married in a private pagan ceremony in 1970. And after his death, she claimed to be his widow, even taking his name as her own in 1979.

Kennealy-Morrison’s claims fly in the face of conventional wisdom, which states that Pamela Courson was Morrison’s “one true love.” Indeed, Courson was declared Morrison’s common-law wife when she inherited most of his estate.

But despite maintaining her status as “The Lizard Queen” until she died in 2021, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison raised more questions than answers with her claims. So, where exactly does the truth lie about the woman who may have been Jim Morrison’s wife?

How Patricia Kennealy-Morrison Became A Rock Critic

Born Patricia Kennely in 1946 in Brooklyn, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison was raised in the Long Island hamlet of North Babylon, NY. After attending St. Bonaventure University for two years, she transferred to Harpur College (now The State University of New York at Binghamton) before graduating with a degree in journalism in 1967.

As she would detail in her hotly-contested memoir, Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison, she moved to New York City after she graduated, where she landed her first job at a publishing company before becoming an editorial assistant at the music magazine Jazz & Pop. In 1968, she worked her way up to the editor-in-chief role, becoming one of the first female rock critics in the industry.

The Doors

Agency for the Performing Arts/Public DomainThe Doors in 1968.

And she was acutely aware of the fraught role she was taking on as a woman in the industry, writing in the magazine, “For all its self hype to the contrary, rock is just another dismal male chauvinist trip, with one important difference: it’s got the power and the looseness with which to change itself.”

But she also used Jazz & Pop to argue for rock’s cultural importance and took the genre as seriously as any other. According to The New York Times, music journalist Steve Hochman eulogized her by saying, “As a writer and editor of Jazz & Pop magazine, she helped establish the then-embryonic realm at a time when few thought of pop music as worthy of such critical attention.”

She also inflected her criticism with her own earnest belief in the power of Celtic paganism and mysticism, once writing of the band Coven’s dabbling in themes of dark magic, “Black magic is NOT merely an interesting new wrinkle for the PR crowd to play with, or a hot new ad copy slant.”

And as editor-in-chief, she had access to industry parties, managers, and musicians, including Jim Morrison, whom she first met in January 1969 while interviewing him for the magazine. After the interview, they began corresponding by letters and, later, phone calls.

Before Kennealy-Morrison claimed that she was Jim Morrison’s wife, she said they became lovers shortly after they began corresponding. However, many of her friends noted that at the same time she was claiming to be involved with Morrison, she was also seriously involved with influential rock critic David Walley.

Nevertheless, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison claimed she and Jim Morrison became engaged in May of 1970 and were handfasted in a pagan ceremony one month later. This is where the claim of being Jim Morrison’s wife begins.

Patricia Kennealy-Morrison’s Pagan “Marriage” To Jim Morrison

In June 1970, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison claims she married Jim Morrison in a handfasting ceremony. In Strange Days, Kennealy-Morrison claims the handfasting was performed by “a high priest and a high priestess,” to whom she gave the pseudonyms Bran and Maura.

The Doors Performing

Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesJim Morrison and The Doors performing at the San Diego Sports Arena on August 22, 1970, just a few months after Patricia Kennealy-Morrison says they were married in a Celtic handfasting ceremony.

The ceremony was overseen by witnesses and involved drinking drops of the pair’s blood dissolved in glasses of wine. And that night, Kennealy-Morrison said, she and Jim Morrison engaged in passionate lovemaking until dawn.

Oliver Stone later immortalized the ceremony in his 1991 film The Doors, with Kennealy-Morrison herself portraying the high priestess performing the ritual opposite Val Kilmer’s Jim Morrison and Kathleen Quinlan’s portrayal of Kennealy-Morrison herself.

By the time The Doors film was released, Kennealy-Morrison had legally changed her name to take on Morrison’s and reflect their union.

But there are many people who dispute Patricia Kennealy-Morrison’s claims.

The Real Story Of The ‘Lizard Queen’

When Patricia Kennealy-Morrison claimed she was building a relationship with Morrison, he was building a budding relationship with Florentine Pabst. In fact, Pabst frequently shares photos of herself and Morrison together from that same time period on her Instagram page — and she revealed that she and Morrison spent Christmas of 1970 together.

At the same time, Morrison was also building a “buddies with benefits” relationship with actress Charlotte Stewart, best known for her work on Little House on the Prairie. And Stewart was, in fact, one of the last people to see Jim Morrison alive.

Jim Morrison Wife

Estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesJim Morrison his long-time girlfriend Pamela Courson during a 1969 photo shoot at Bronson Caves in the Hollywood Hills.

Pabst and Stewart’s picture collections with Morrison also serve as a sharp contrast to Patricia Kennealy-Morrison’s lack of photographic proof of her relationship. Despite her claims of a close and personal relationship with the singer, only one photo exists of the two of them together, taken in a professional environment at the Jazz & Pop offices in New York City.

Raeanne Rubenstein, a celebrity photographer who died in 2019, was also mentioned by Kennealy-Morrison as a witness to her and Jim Morrison’s alleged burgeoning relationship. Kennealy-Morrison claimed that Rubenstein bore witness to the couple’s passion in Strange Days.

But in a Tumblr post, Rubenstein told a very different story. She called Kennealy-Morrison’s memoir “pure, unadulterated farce” and concluded that “to say she is stretching it would be putting it nicely.” She thinks that Kennealy-Morrison and Morrison spent a week, maybe ten days, together in total.

Salli Stevenson, a rock journalist who interviewed Jim Morrison for Circus Magazine in 1970, also asserts that the pair spent less than two weeks together. Stevenson frequently comments on websites that mention Kennealy-Morrison and is emphatic about her claims that Kennealy-Morrison and Jim Morrison were little more than casual acquaintances.

“Jim Morrison said to me that he and Patricia Kennealy did not know each other well,” she wrote in one such comment on Who’s Dated Who. “They had exchanged a few polite notes and she saw him only in the company of others only three or four times. Jim also said he didn’t consider their wedding in June 1970 as anything more than a creative experiment and a fun thing to do at the time.”

According to Stevenson, only Morrison and Kennealy were present at the ceremony. She wrote, “If you [look at the] timeline of Patricia’s “Strange Days” and compare Jim’s schedule, you will find that Patricia Kennealy spent less than a week and a half with Jim Morrison — days, not even a month, let alone a year.”

Was Patricia Kennealy-Morrison Really Jim Morrison’s Wife?

Whatever romance Jim Morrison and Patricia Kennealy-Morrison had, it was likely brief. Although according to music industry executive Janet Erwin, Morrison ended it in no uncertain terms.

Jim made it plain to Patricia once again that they were through. He was gentle, but the message was unmistakable,” Erwin wrote. “For instance, he’d suggested that they should start a ‘great literary correspondence,’ which pretty clearly meant ‘you stay on your coast, baby, and I’ll stay on mine.'”

Strange Days By Patricia Kennealy Morrison

DuttonPatricia Kennealy-Morrison wrote Strange Days (1992) in response to how she felt Oliver Stone had trivialized her marriage ceremony in his 1991 movie The Doors.

This claim was further supplemented by the testimony of the surviving members of The Doors. In his memoir, Riders on the Storm, drummer John Densmore mused that he’d heard “rumors about a witch wedding” but didn’t think much of it. Guitarist Robby Krieger echoed a similar sentiment in his own memoir, Set the Night on Fire.

“I barely saw Jim hanging out with Patricia Kennealy and if he ever married her in some sort of Wiccan blood ritual, he never spoke a word about it to anyone I ever knew. For a guy who always mocked astrology and spirituality and transcendental meditation, I can’t imagine him taking a Wiccan wedding even remotely seriously,” he wrote.

And the late Ray Manzarek’s memoir, Light My Fire, summed up Patricia Kennealy-Morrison in two short sentences: “She fell in love with Jim. Madly.”

But perhaps the most significant piece of proof about the nature of Patricia Kennealy-Morrison’s relationship with Jim Morrison came from the writer herself. In 1987, Kennealy-Morrison sat down with Victoria Balfour and gave an exclusive interview for her book, Rock Wives: The Hard Lives and Good Times of the Wives, Girlfriends, and Groupies of Rock and Roll.

Despite her later claims about the nature of their relationship, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison herself claimed that her relationship with Jim Morrison was little more than a passing fling.

“Patricia doesn’t know how seriously Jim took the ceremony (‘probably not too seriously’), but to her, going through the ceremony was ‘like being validated the way I wanted to be. It was a very private thing for me, a bond I wanted to make with this person,'” Balfour wrote.

Ultimately, the only two people who truly knew the nature of their relationship were Patricia Kennealy-Morrison and Jim Morrison. And now that they’re both dead, the truth will forever be mired in rock ‘n’ roll lore.

Now that you’ve read all about Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, who claimed to be Jim Morrison’s wife, read all about the raucous life and tragic death of original AC/DC frontman Bon Scott. Then, check out these wild photos of Jim Morrison that capture his tumultuous life and tragic demise.

Bernadette Giacomazzo
Bernadette Giacomazzo is a New York City-based editor, writer, photographer, and publicist whose work has been featured in People, Teen Vogue, BET, HipHopDX, XXL Magazine, The Source, Vibe, The Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere.
Adam Farley
Adam Farley is an Assistant Editor at All That's Interesting. He was previously content director of and deputy editor of Irish America magazine. He holds an M.A. from New York University and a B.A. from the University of Washington.
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Giacomazzo, Bernadette. "The Story Of Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, The Rock Critic Who Claimed That She Married Jim Morrison.", April 28, 2022, Accessed May 26, 2024.