Book Reviews

Rock legend Jim Morrison put it this way: “This is the strangest life I’ve ever known.”

Hunter author William Lane relates deeply to these words, which Morrison sings in the track, "Waiting for the Sun." Lane, who has published three novels, finds the world very strange. “I love that line from the Doors’ song,” Lane says.

There’s another link between Morrison and Lane. The Doors’ singer was known as “the Lizard King”. Lane’s latest book is titled The Salamanders. Salamanders are amphibians, with lizard-like qualities.

Cronshaw, D. (2017, June 2). William Lane on his new book The Salamanders and the strangeness of life. Retrieved from

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It's hard for a book about the Doors, even one as good as this one by Mick Wall, to be anything other than a biography of Jim Morrison. The troubled, charismatic lead singer with fashion-model good looks and a honeyed baritone propelled the band to stardom even as he seemed to do everything he could to alienate the other members of the group and ensure its failure. Morrison burned up all the oxygen in every room. He was a nasty, nasty man. The things he did to women can't be discussed here. Then again, many of the greatest artists are total amateurs as human beings. Not everybody makes a perfect roommate or lover, yet sometimes great art appears to flow almost effortlessly from people you'd cross the street to avoid.

Morrison was a handful early on; he was kicked out of Cub Scouts for flouting the rules and mocking his den mother, and many high school classmates remember him as angry and drunk. Once out of the house, he seemed to have no relationship with his father, a navy Rear-Admiral, and he told people that his parents were dead when they weren't. Arrested for a prank as a freshman at Florida State University, he ended up at UCLA, graduating from its film school in 1965.

Kirby, D. (2015, October 14). Morrison's storm and the Doors that rode on it, changing the sound of US rock 'n' roll. Retrieved from

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It was at UCLA that [Jim Morrison] met Ray Manzarek, also a film student but an accomplished musician as well. Born in Chicago to a hardworking immigrant family, Manzarek started piano lessons early, beginning with Beethoven and Bach and progressing to stride piano, ragtime and boogie-woogie by the time he was 12. He was good at sports, but once a friend with a portable radio introduced him to “the far right-hand side of the dial,” he gave up athletics for the blues sounds of John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters and, later, the early rock music of Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Although Morrison and Manzarek had known each other in school, they didn’t really connect until the day in July 1965 when they bumped into each other on Venice Beach and the lead-singer-to-be said, “I’ve been writing some songs.” Pudgy by nature, Morrison had lost nearly 20 pounds once he got off the UCLA food plan and started taking drugs instead, and when Manzarek heard his now-sinuous, sexy friend sing hesitantly and then with growing confidence, he said, “We’re gonna make a million dollars!” Sitting there in the sand, Manzarek could already hear himself “comping” behind Morrison’s voice, playing jazz-rock mixed with a Latin sound as the singer went where the song took him. It was in a Transcendental Meditation class—remember, this is the ’60s—that Manzarek met the two other future Doors, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger.

Kirby, D. (2015, August 27). Breaking on through the legend of the Doors. Retrieved from

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The opening line of Mick Wall’s biography about The Doors begins with singer Jim Morrison’s sordid end. But it’s not the ending readers have been conditioned to remember.

Love Becomes A Funeral Pyre, is a smooth, snarky, sarcastic and pull-no-punches look at a late 1960s rock ’n’ roll band that produced memorable hits like “Light My Fire,” “Love Me Two Times,” “Touch Me” and “Hello, I Love You.” And “The End,” a haunting dirge that was used to great effect to open the 1979 film Apocalypse Now.

Wall, a veteran rock critic from England who has written biographies of Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Axl Rose, opens his book with Morrison’s death. The original story was that Morrison had died of a heart attack in his bathtub on July 3, 1971. Wall argues, Morrison died of a heroin overdose while sitting on the toilet in the Rock and Roll Circus, a seedy Paris nightclub. He was 27.

D'Angelo, B. (2015, October 11). Breaking on through the legend of the Doors. Retrieved from

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Classic rockers came to St. Louis on Sept. 4 to pay tribute to John Densmore and The Doors. Some even recalled the group's "Waiting For The Sun" tour and appearance way back in November 1968 at Kiel Auditorium.

Unfortunately, the sun has set on the lives of two of The Doors four original members: Jim Morrison, lead singer and Ray Manczarek, keyboardist. Morrison will always be remembered best for his "Light My Fire," long play, for his psychedelic music and for his untimely death in Paris at 27 in 1971.

"I am visiting places like St. Louis to try to honor my friend, Jim, who broke on through to the other side," said Densmore, in a reference to one of the band's famous songs. "My mission now is to save the music that was such a big part of people's lives. To keep it from being trivialized."

Corrigan, D. (2014, September 10). "The Doors: Unhinged" - Doors drummer John Densmore shares history of the band with fans. Retrieved from

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Jim Morrison by Stephan Beauvais

Jim Morrison Project

The Jim Morrison Project is an audio & visual anthology detailing the life of Jim Morrison through his poetry, films, art, spoken word & music with The Doors.