He was a student in the film department. I had a class of 440 people, a one-credit class in European literature. He came in with his good friend Michael Howard, who was studying film with Jim Morrison; he’s 85 years old now. After class was over, students would walk up the steps to the stage…[Morrison] asked me a question, and another student nearby said "That's Jim Morrison!" He had just made the first disc of The Doors, but my music is experimental jazz. So naturally, I said "Who's Jim Morrison?"
A couple of years later, I was no longer at UCLA, but I was asked to give a reading during the Vietnam War. People were burning the American flag outside the theater at that time. I gave a reading, and [Morrison] upstaged me! He came in and upstaged me while I was reading; I could not finish the poem. He read "The Star-Spangled Banner" ironically. I was very angry and left the theater. Two days later, he had his secretary send me two volumes of writing that he had published, one was poetry, and the other was lovely essays about film. He was a good prose writer. I think they came out in another volume later on.
And that's the story of me and Jim Morrison.
Three days before the conversation you're about to read took place, the city of Los Angeles honored the 50th anniversary of a self-titled album that even now remains among the most acclaimed recordings in the history of rock and roll, officially declaring Wednesday, Jan. 4, the Day of the Doors at a rainy outdoor ceremony in Venice, Calif., where it all began.
The two surviving members—lead guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore—reunited on an outdoor stage and treated the crowd to a spirited take on "L.A. Woman," the title track to the final album they recorded with Jim Morrison before his tragic death, at 27.
As a young Californian teen in the 1960s, Judy Huddleston met Jim Morrison backstage at a concert. Not a groupie and yet not quite an official girlfriend, their intermittent relationship lasted for four years till his death. Willing to risk it all for her idol, this grey area intimacy took her to the brink of self-destruction and threatened her very identity and sanity.
Judy first wrote about her experiences in the 1991 book This Is the End… My Only Friend: Living and Dying With Jim Morrison but the book was only available for a short time before the publisher went bankrupt. Recently released Love Him Madly: An Intimate Memoir of Jim Morrison is an updated and expanded version.
Judy's beautifully written coming of age story about her sexual relationship with Jim Morrison of the Doors is a compelling example of 'personal meets political in pop culture and media'. Readers of her book will not only see a more developed and nuanced portrayal of Morrison but also what the sexually free 1960s were really like for a teenaged girl raised on 1950s romantic ideals.
In our interview conducted through email we discuss how emotional vulnerability affects identity and gender beliefs, surviving the death of ideals and ultimately breaking free from power imbalanced obsessive relationships. More than exposing what Morrison was like behind scenes, It is Ms. Huddlestons' deepest desire to reach other woman who might find themselves powerless and offer the hard won insight she finally achieved.
As a fan of your writing and first book I just want to say thank you for re-visiting the story and being willing to share such deeply personal memories. The first seems to be about Jim Morrison while this one is more of your story.
Judy: Love Him Madly was intended as a coming-of-age tale, primarily for women who had 'loved too much'. The fact that the man was Jim actually got in the way. Apparently it still does. Although I'm writing about an unbalanced, co-dependent and obsessive relationship that many women have had—especially when they're young, people often say: "Oh, but it's Jim Morrison." Like that somehow normalizes how we turn a man into a god and crawl over glass for him!
Why do you think were you willing to crawl over glass for him and lose yourself in the process, wasn't it because he was Jim Morrison?
Judy: It's kind of chicken-and-the egg why I was willing to crawl over glass. Yes, his "Jim-ness" inspired it; but honestly, he was also an archetypical romantic ideal… Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, James Dean and Kurt Cobain. He's the bad boy, the tortured artist, every misunderstood Rock n' Roller or addict who's even half cute. We're programmed for him!
Jim Morrison has a reputation for being unbalanced and on the edge. Many fans don't want to believe he was mentally unstable or a troubled man (especially as portrayed by Oliver Stone) so they look to biographies to find a more human side of someone who is collectively worshiped by many.
Judy: Jim was usually on the edge and sometimes unbalanced, not always. He definitely wasn't as one-dimensionally dark as the Stone characterization. But he was an alcoholic and probably borderline or bi-polar. These were major mood swings!
What makes young girls especially vulnerable to such relationships?
Judy: Some girls might not have the programming—the healthier ones. And he can probably be more of a good guy, too—though being unattainable helps the fantasy stay alive. When you're younger, particularly your teens and early 20s, it's easy to project your dream onto someone. Girls are often losing daddy and wanting something to believe in, someone like a god.
I believe most of us are programmed for him, especially if we are inexperienced in love and look to stories, movie and music for guidance on relationships and someone to direct all our feelings and emotions towards. I don't know anyone whose parents sat them down and said 'this is what a healthy relationship looks like' (most of our parents didn't even have such relationships themselves).
Healthy relationships can encompass the mundane and routine at times while the bad boy always promises adventure, excitement and daring at first glance. Put him on a stage and that doubles!
Plus going after someone your parents or society doesn't approve of offers a chance to set yourself apart and feel grown-up because you are becoming your own person that doesn't just blindly follow the rules. If you get that guy that seems so self-assured and together while he is leading a crowd from the stage then you must be doing something right, something not just anyone can do!
Judy: That's so true and so unconscious—we rarely know what we're doing. My dad was a singer from the Big Band era; he was originally in a group with Frank Sinatra. Yet I somehow thought I was being original! My parents separated when I was 14—it was full steam ahead from there.
Did you see Jim as a father figure? Once you got to know him was he anything like your dad?
Judy: At first I saw Jim as the opposite of my father, an Orange County conservative from the Midwest who hated rock n' roll. Ironically, they were both fairly tyrannical authority figures that I wanted to approve me.
Your book also discusses another reason why women ignore their own internal voices in obsessive relationships, in the 60s it was called the 'sexual revolution' and now it's known as 'no strings attached'. Let's talk about this for a moment. Jim clearly thought it was a sexual relationship in the beginning and even told you that he couldn't be your boyfriend but yet you were willing to accept this even though you wanted him to love you. Women offered this option often take it because it's better than nothing but it's not very satisfying and ultimately soul-destroying.
Judy: That's a hard one. It was especially difficult when the idealistic concept of 'free love' was so strong. I certainly liked the idea of loving someone without being possessive or jealous. A few years earlier, my anthem had been a Lesley Gore song called "You Don't Own Me."
Morally, I believed it was the true high road, but experientially it's much harder as a woman. You are literally the one who is entered. That makes a huge difference emotionally, but I wasn't able to accept that then.
So secretly, I thought I'd eventually win him over… I didn't understand the price I was paying, how advantageous it was for him (or men). Women still buy into that as a viable option on an uneven playing field. Maybe it depends on whether you win or lose the game, but either way, it hurts.
That is a very good point; we do literally open ourselves up! What was the price you paid? And how were you able to get over the hurt?
Judy: I had a strangely delayed reaction. It's like the hurt built up over time until I felt dead inside. Honestly, it wasn't just the relationship with Jim. He was more like the model of counterculture expectations that lasted through the seventies.
Do you think the prevalence of "free love" is the reason why Pam Courson (Jim's official girlfriend) was willing to tolerate Jim's numerous dalliances?
Judy: I'm sure Pam had little choice but tolerance, though not happily. I believe she had several relationships too, probably just to even things out. By the time the 80s hit, I, for one, was totally burnt out by freedom…
Your book illustrates how harmful it can be to hold onto expectations instead of seeing a relationship or person as they really are. Obsessive relationships are never about that person but who we want them to be and who we want to be in their eyes.
What advice would you give to young girls (and women) who might be experiencing the same thing?
Judy: At least listen to the voice inside you that knows the truth. You don't have to give up the man or relationship, but slow down enough to look at what's actually happening. There's a tendency to hang on to a future that never comes. Is it really worth the pain?
In my case it was idealizing a man almost like he was God. And if only he can love you, life will finally be OK. Then the physical attraction and emotional pull of a dangerous, unattainable type heightens the romance.
Yes the physical and emotional often clouds judgment, especially for those relatively new to relationships. Why do women have a tendency to idealize men?
Judy: I think there's almost a need to idealize a man—like a lofty goal you're aspiring to… And a fantasy about the charmed life you'll enter through the relationship with "Him." Just a plain guy with all his boring flaws won't do the trick—you need some kind of god/daddy. So we may super-impose this ideal over the guy—part of that's just hormonal and somewhat real, but the rest seems to come from culture and family.
Do you think it's different for younger generations which don't have the same media or cultural influences (the game Mystery Date comes to mind)?
Judy: I don't feel the cultural influences have changed all that much on this level… That emotional/physical pull is so instinctual and our brains seem fairly slow to catch on that we're not survival-dependent on men. I'm thinking it'll take a few more decades to get encoded (however that works).
How can women keep their eyes open and listen to their inner voice in the face of strong physical attraction and emotions?
Judy: Breathe in, meditate or pray for clarity, and ask your friends to tell the truth if you're losing it.
Let's talk about the 'like god' part for a moment. In your book, you discuss questioning religion and see a correlation between this and your rebellion against Jim (later on in your relationship). Can you tell us more about this?
Judy: This was fairly unconsciousness as it happened. I'd more or less rejected traditional religion, particularly God personified as a He. Yet underneath that bravado, I was in love with Jim as if he was God, whether that is personified as Adonis, Dionysius, or Jesus… I believed his love could save me but I didn't believe I could save him.
How did your relationship with Jim affect your relationships afterwards? Have you ever been married or had kids?
Judy: Unfortunately, it took me a few decades to stop being attracted to "Jim types." I tried several other varieties. Finally, I went the other direction and married a yoga teacher for good measure. We didn't have children.
The most poignant part of the book for me was when you discussed what most people in art school ponder at some point (and I dare say anyone who breathes); a realization that you may not be able to create a masterpiece—something of importance that 'marks your existence' and singles you out as a creator of significant art. Then you also discuss the added pressure as a woman to not live up to the expectation that it will all be given it all up when becoming a mother. Do you feel like this memoir erases that fear?
Judy: I'm glad I was able to revisit the story in Love Him Madly. It seems slightly more comic or tragic, depending on my mood, but the desire to create a significant work of art won't go away. The difficulty with this book is the recurrence of my identity being overshadowed by Jim. Even as I write my memoir, people think it's his biography. On the other hand, some literary people won't bother to read it because they assume it's "just another groupie" book.…
It is ironic, isn't it?! The whole book is about finding out who you are and it seems the biggest problem you had with Jim is that he didn't think of or know who you were outside the context of your time together despite having poetry, writing and an interest in art in common.
But in the same vein he was also overshadowed by his 'image' and still is. Do people read his work because of who he is or because they think he's a great poet?
How do you feel about the fact that the book has been marketed to Doors fans, specifically with the title taken from a song and image of Jim on the cover?
Judy: I understand it's our culture and the marketplace, but it still hurts… Like he's the only thing that matters in my memoir and writing.
What would Jim think of your books?
Judy: He'd know I was as true to him and the experiences as I could be. I honestly think he'd understand and like the books.
Did you gain any new insight while writing this book?
Judy: How deeply lost I was in those years.
What do you think of your younger self? And how do you now feel about Jim Morrison?
Judy: I'm startled by how stubborn, reckless and naive she was; and I'm grateful she wasn't hurt more. I feel more compassion for Jim than before—he seems so trapped: I don't see a viable way out for him.
AC/DC said it best: "Rock & Roll ain't noise pollution. Rock & Roll ain't gonna die." And for so many bands, truer words have never been spoken. Take The Doors. Born in the California of the sixties when political tensions were heating up and the youth were on the borderline of getting angry and getting high, the band created a whirlwind of hypnotic music before the death of their creative lead singer, Jim Morrison. Forty-three years later, their music is still on the airwaves, still seducing the youth with their charismatic psychedelic nuggets. Forty-three years from now, you will still be able to find "People Are Strange," "Riders On The Storm" and "Light My Fire" playing somewhere. It's almost a guarantee.
Doors front man and legendary musician Jim Morrison may have known a thing or two about the future of music.
Wise beyond his years, Morrison often quoted the works of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jack Kerouac, implementing their wisdom in to his lyrics. His personality, songwriting ability, and voice led to him being regarded as one of the most iconic front men in the history of music, despite his early death at the age of 27.
In this 1969 interview he pretty much nails his prediction of the next generation's music.
The new generation's music … it will have a synthesis of those two elements [Country and Rock n' Roll] and some third thing. It might rely heavily on electronics, tapes. I can kind of envision maybe one person with a lot of machines, tapes, and electronic setups.
Pretty cool insight from one of the greatest musicians of our time. Despite his spot on prediction, even Morrison could not have imagined how large electronic dance music would eventually become.
Check out the full prediction of the future of music by Jim Morrison below.