James Douglas Morrison (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) was an American singer, songwriter, and poet, best remembered as the lead singer of the Doors. Due to his poetic lyrics, distinctive voice, wild personality, performances, and the dramatic circumstances surrounding his life and early death, Morrison is regarded by both music critics and fans as one of the most iconic and influential frontmen in rock music history.
Morrison co-founded the Doors during the summer of 1965 in Venice, California. The band spent two years in obscurity until shooting to prominence with their #1 single in the United States, "Light My Fire", taken from their self-titled debut album. Morrison recorded a total of six studio albums with the Doors, all of which sold well and received critical acclaim. Though the Doors recorded two more albums after his death, the loss of Morrison was crippling to the band, and they disbanded in 1973. In 1993, Morrison, as a member of the Doors, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Since his death, his fame has endured as one of popular culture's most rebellious and oft-displayed icons, representing the generation gap and youth counterculture. He was also well known for improvising spoken word poetry passages while the band played live. Morrison was ranked #47 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time", and number 22 on Classic Rock magazine's "50 Greatest Singers in Rock". Ray Manzarek, who co-founded The Doors with him, said Morrison "embodied hippie counterculture rebellion". Morrison was sometimes referred to by other nicknames, such as "The Lizard King", "Mr. Mojo Risin" and "King of Orgasmic Rock".
Morrison developed an alcohol dependency during the 1960s, which at times affected his performances on stage. He died at the age of 27 in Paris. As no autopsy was performed, the exact cause of Morrison's death remains unknown to this day.
Morrison joined Pamela Courson in Paris in March 1971, at an apartment he had rented on the rue Beautreillis (in the 4th arrondissement of Paris on the Right Bank). In letters he described going for long walks through the city, alone. During this time, he shaved his beard and lost some of the weight he had gained in the previous months. He died on July 3, 1971 at age 27. He was found by Courson in a bathtub at his apartment. The official cause of death was listed as heart failure, although no autopsy was performed, as it was not required by French law.