Danny Sugerman saw his first rock concert at the age of 12. That concert featured The Doors. Fascinated by The Doors' lead singer, Jim Morrison, Danny's obsession with the group and their music led him to a job in their office. He handled their fan mail and organized the group's press scrapbook. Danny has written what has to be the most detailed account yet of life with The Doors. And more than that, it's Danny Sugerman's story, his ups, his downs, his triumphs, his tragedies. Titled "Wonderland Avenue", (William Morrow and Co.) this is the closest look at the inner workings of rock that we've seen in a long time.
Q - You're on the road these days to promote "Wonderland Avenue", but how do you support yourself the rest of the time?
A - I manage The Doors, plus Ray Manzarek's solo career. Ray's very, very active producing. Their band is making movies. The Doors have a very lucrative catalog, compact discs have given us a third life. I worked with The Doors, and made the deals and was involved in the production of 'Dance On Fire' and 'Live At The Hollywood Bowl,' both platinum award-winning videos. I've just produced a new video, The Doors In Europe, aired on Cinemax, and in the Fall coming out on HBO Home Video. That, in combination with a 6-hour radio show on The Doors, shot sales up 500% for the Christmas season. And, we have a Doors box set coming up this Christmas, with an "American Prayer" as well as the 'live' material on CD for the first time, as well as the sixth studio album and a CD containing some never-before-released material.
Q - How were you able to recall all of the conversations in such detail? Did you keep a diary?
A - I made a lot of notes. When a lot of this stuff was going down, I was writing about it. I knew someday I hoped to use them in a book. If you were to ask me to tell you everything Jim Morrison told me, in order, word for word, I couldn't have done it. Sitting down at the typewriter, getting his character to live on paper, once he was alive in this story, he spoke. I could see him, I could hear him. I knew what he would say and I knew what he did say. Once the spirit of him was alive, the words just came. I learned more about my mind in the creative process in the writing of this book. I really feel like a writer now. I know to trust the process, and when I'm inspired to write.
Judy Huddleston was only 17 when she met Jim Morrison. She was a model in Los Angeles. The year was 1967. What happened after their initial meeting is chronicled in
Judy's book "This Is The End My Only Friend, Living and Dying With Jim Morrison"
We spoke with Judy Huddleston about her life and times with Jim Morrison.
Q - If Jim Morrison hadn't been a rock star, would you have put up with the kind of terrible treatment he dished out to you?
A - Probably if he had been an artist or a writer I would have. He wouldn't have had to have been a rock star. If he would have been some sort of artist or writer whose work I loved, yeah. I wasn't even interested in people who weren't.
Q - Judy, how do we know that Jim Morrison really did die on July 3rd, 1971?
Alan Graham was part of the inner circle of the Morrison family. He was married to Jim Morrisonís sister, Ann. As a member of the Morrison family, Alan was privy to information that the outside world could only guess about. Alan served as a consultant to Oliver Stoneís film "The Doors". Gary James talked with Alan Graham about one of rockís enduring legends, Jim Morrison.
Q - If Jim died on July 3, 1971, why did we hear about it six days later, on July 9?
A - Jim Morrison died on July 3 and the next day was July 4. We only heard about it ourselves on July 6. It wasnít reported to the press until the third day, because Pamela had kept it a secret for those 3 days so she could get her stuff in order, so she could get back to America. The day she left from Paris to America was July 6. Thatís when it was reported to the press. And only at the burial.
Q - Alan, again, do you think Jim Morrison is alive?
A - Well, in this day and age, I donít know. As far as Iím concerned, itís possible. The only person who knows is Pamela Courson (who died of a drug overdose in 1974). Donít forget the body was put on ice overnight. The morgues were closed. It was left on Saturday and Sunday night Ďtil Monday morning and his body was really blue. She never saw it. Nobody saw that body Ďtil it came from the morgue in the coffin, ready for the funeral. Pamela wouldnít look at it. Nobody looked at it. The likelihood that it couldíve been somebody else is extremely high and Morrison couldíve seen it and went into hiding and said this is my chance to get away from all this.
Q - Get away from all of what?
A - His life and the people around him. I donít want to be the person who says heís alive in Africa somewhere. As sure as the Admiral is not at peace with himself, neither am I. I donít know. I canít say heís dead. Nobody knows anything except the girl that put him in that coffin and that was Pamela and sheís dead. The others were junkies. It couldíve been anybody in that coffin. Nobody knew where they were, Ďcause they were all on heroin, including Pamela, smacked up at the funeral. It could have been a perfect road for escape for Morrison.
Is Jim Morrison alive? Did he fake his death? Gerald Pitts says yes to both questions. He knows Jim Morrison. He's talked to Jim Morrison. He's photographed Jim Morrison. How is this possible you ask? We'll let Gerald Pitts tell the story, a story by the way that marks the first time he's gone into such detail with any interviewer.
Q - This news that Jim Morrison is alive and working as an actor and you're his agent...
A - Whoa! Jim working as an actor.
Q - Didn't he appear in one of your films?
A - Well yeah, he did. Here's the situation: In 1999 Jim went out on a ranch. I put out a rodeo stage coach specialty together for him. See, that's online.
Q - Are you his agent?
A - Yeah.
Q - This should be a big story - that Jim Morrison is alive.
Photographer / Artist Ed Wincenten of Tulsa, Oklahoma has put together a rather unique look at Jim Morrison. Ed's book contains material on Morrison that you've never seen before. We're talking about pictures, posters and handbills. How'd he do it? Where did this material come from? We put those questions and more to Ed Wincentsen.
Q - Of all the people you could have written a book about, you chose Jim Morrison. Why? Don't you think there's already enough material out there on Morrison?
A - I wanted to do a book on Jim Morrison even though there was a lot of material coming out due to the movie, because there was one main theme I wanted to state; the theme being that I considered Jim Morrison a real poet, a poet that transcends even his fame as the rock and roll singer of The Doors. I tried to state this in the short piece I wrote for the beginning of the book. Also, I wanted the book to be meant as an artistic tribute to Morrison, like from a visual artist. Here is my tribute to Jim Morrison, poet, artist.
Q - How did you know where to turn to for material on Morrison?
A - I knew my approach to my book had a certain place that the others didn't because I also wanted to include reproductions of certain posters, handbills, and newspaper ads to try to capture a little of the times. I knew no other book was doing that and I also wanted to locate as many photos that had not been published before. Also, doing my color design work to images was going to be an exclusive for the book. Being a photographer, I knew how to track down photos for the book. I also had some sources that put me in touch with some people that had rare, unpublished items. We were able to obtain a rare Tulsa Doors concert poster for the collector Andrew Hawley, who traded us permission to use some of his collection for the book. Andrew had been approached by other publishers and had been offered cash to use his collection, but he turned many offers down. With us getting this one poster he had wanted for years, gave us that collection for the book. I used posters, handbills that did not have the copyright laws. They were public domain, the ones I used, but unpublished.
The Strange Deaths of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin
Is it just a coincidence that three of the biggest names in rock - Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin - should all die within a year? Director / writer Larry Buchanan doesn't think so. He believes Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were murdered and Jim Morrison faked his own death. Mr. Buchanan wrote and directed the film "Beyond The Doors" which explores the mysterious deaths of the three superstars. And, when it comes to movie-making, Larry Buchanan is no slouch. He's been in the business for 30 years now. Most of his work was done for American International Pictures. He gave Morgan Fairchild her first job in a picture - with Fabian. He also gave Steve McQueen his first job in a film, on a short subject, called "The Cowboy". Mr. Buchanan also knew Marilyn Monroe.
In the history of rock 'n roll only three names - Morrison, Hendrix, and Joplin - stand alongside of Elvis and The Beatles.
Did the music of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin get them killed? If so, why? And how did it happen?
Let filmmaker Larry Buchanan take you on an exploration of the seamier side of rock 'n roll - a world "Beyond The Doors".
Q - How did you first become interested in the lives of Jim, Jimi, and Janis?
A - Too many things started to line up like ducks in a row on the three rock stars. The only one I knew was Janis. We were making these films in Dallas. One of her last concerts was in Lewisville, which is just north of Dallas, near Lake Dallas. We shot movies all around there. And so, my unit went out to do this on their own. They were just being paid to shoot the concert. So, I went out. I started talking to her and some things just started to match up with what I'd heard about Morrison and Hendrix. That is, that all three of them were under surveillance and being tapped. At that time, Nixon was desperately afraid of not being re-elected. There was legislation ready for passage, which it did pass, where 18-year-olds were to get to vote. Well, these were the King and Queen of Rock and the Heir Apparent to Rock - Morrison. Hendrix, Morrison, and Janis could actually make a difference-on an 18-year-old vote, with Nixon being out of the White House. It was that simple. So, they were to be followed and discredited. They started gathering stuff on them. Their excesses with sex, their excesses with drugs. Their income tax problems. Everything you could think of. They started building up folders on these people. It got so desperate that the word came down - Exterminate with Extreme Prejudice. In other words, these people are to be, the word they used, is neutralized. Neutralized means get rid of them. And the word quote is this: "They must go in the way they are expected to go." For example, Janis must take vodka with orange juice loaded with poison. She took one of those in the motel and went on the floor. Hendrix choked on his own vomit in an ambulance on the way to a hospital. Now remember, these people are not idiots. They had dealt with drugs all their lives. The idea of Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix overdosing - they did not overdose on anything. They were fixed. They were worked through this thing. In other words, it looks so simple. All we get is a cable from London - Jimi Hendrix, overdosed on drugs, dead. Janis Joplin, overdosed on drugs, dead. That's all you hear. You start peeking into it and you find it just doesn't add up. They didn't get Morrison. He escaped. He got through the tunnel. It had to be the work of the 'Thirty-Nine Steps.' These are ex-F.B.I., ex-NSA, and ex-C.I.A. They are funded for the rest of this century. They were originally funded by Jack Kennedy's father. A very wealthy man, and a very sinister person, to make sure his boys made it. Nothing could stand in the way. These are power mad people. Like Lyndon Johnson, who was successor to the throne of the Kennedys in power. So these people had to be eliminated. And that's what happened.
Q - And Morrison?
A - My wife and I went to Paris, to visit the Pere La Chaise cemetery. Now this is where Balzac is buried, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, and Jim Morrison. The man who let us in did not want to talk to us, but because we had a friend with us, he confirmed a story about Ray Manzarek (Doors keyboard player). Manzarek has been recorded in several books as having stood on that grave and said, 'Jim is not here.' Now that is an actual quote. I didn't hear him. I'm only telling you I've seen it in print. This man told me that's true.