Born James Douglas Morrison in Melbourne, Florida, he was the lead singer and lyricist of the popular American rock band The Doors. He was also an author of several poetry books.
James Douglas Morrison was the son of George Stephen Morrison and his wife Clara Clark Morrison, both employed by the United States Navy. His father was a strict military officer, who served as an admiral. Jim was raised by his conservative parents but would grow to express drastically different views than those taught to him.
According to Jim Morrison the most important event of his life came in 1947 during a family trip in New Mexico. He described the event as follows:
"The first time I discovered death... me and my mother and father, and my grandmother and grandfather, were driving through the desert at dawn. A truckload of Indians had either hit another car or something- there were Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death. I was just a kid, so I had to stay in the car while my father and grandfather went to check it out. I didn't see nothing- all I saw was funny red paint and people lying around, but I knew something was happening, because I could dig the vibrations of the people around me, and all of a sudden I realized that they didn't know what was happening any more than I did. That was the first time I tasted fear... and I do think, at that moment, the souls of those dead Indians- maybe one or two of them-were just running around, freaking out, and just landed in my soul, and I was like a sponge, ready to sit there and absorb it."
Morrison growing up, became a seeker, interested in exploring new avenues and new sensations, and led a bohemian lifestyle in California, attending UCLA, drifting about and sleeping on couches and rooftops, reading books voraciously. After graduating UCLA, Morrison read some poems to fellow student, Ray Manzarek and they both decided on the spot to start a rock band. To complete the band, two more members, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore joined the group. (The name The Doors came from an Aldous Huxley book, The Doors of Perception, in turn borrowed from a line of poetry by William Blake), "When the doors of perception are cleansed/ Things will appear as they are, Infinite". He developed a unique singing voice and a style of poetry leaning heavily on mysticism.
Morrison's early life was a nomadic existence typical of military families. Jerry Hopkins recorded Morrison's brother Andy explaining that his parents had determined never to use corporal punishment on their children, and instead instilled discipline and levied punishment by the military tradition known as "dressing down." This consisted of yelling at and berating the children until they were reduced to tears and acknowledged their failings. Andy said that although he could never keep from crying, his brother never shed a tear.
Biographers record that during his youth, Morrison was a dutiful and respectful son who excelled at school and greatly enjoyed swimming and other outdoor activities. His parents hoped he would follow in his father's military footsteps and, for quite some time, Morrison was happy to emulate his father, intending to study at United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
In adolescence, however, Morrison discovered drinking and embarked on a life-long pattern of alcoholism and substance abuse. He was often disruptive in class and became a discipline problem.
Once Morrison graduated from UCLA, he broke off most of his family contact. By the time Morrison's music ascended the top of the charts in 1967, he had not been in communication with his family for more than a year and falsely claimed that his parents and siblings were dead. This misinformation was published as part of the materials distributed with the first Doors album.
In a letter to the Florida Probation and Parole Commission District Office, October 2, 1970, Morrison's father acknowledged the breakdown in family communications, the result of an argument over his assessment of his son's musical talents. He said he could not blame his son for being reluctant to initiate contact. He also stressed that he thought Jim was 'fundamentally a respectable citizen' and that he was proud of his son's progress. See http://www.idafan.com/FloridaProbation-ParoleLetters.htm
In his will, made in Los Angeles County on 12 February 1969, Morrison (who describes himself as "an unmarried person") left his entire estate to Pamela Susan Courson, also naming her co-executor with his attorney, Max Fink. She thus inherited everything upon Morrison’s death in 1971.
When Courson died herself in 1974, a battle ensued between Morrison’s parents and Courson’s parents over who had legal claim to what had been Morrison’s estate. Since Morrison left a will, the question was effectively moot. On his death, his property became Courson’s property; and on her death, her property passed to her next heirs at law, who were her parents. Morrison's parents did not accept this and contested the will under which Courson and now her parents had inherited their son’s property.
To bolster their position, Courson’s parents presented a document they claimed she had acquired in Colorado, apparently an application for a declaration that she and Morrison had contracted a common law marriage under the laws of that state. The ability to contract a common-law marriage was abolished in California in 1896, but the state's conflict of laws rules provided for recognition of common-law marriages lawfully contracted in foreign jurisdictions - and Colorado was one of the eleven U.S. jurisdictions which still recognized common-law marriage. So, as long as a common-law marriage was lawfully contracted under Colorado law, it was recognised as a marriage under California law.
It is not known whether Courson acquired the application before or after Morrison’s death, or indeed whether it was she or her parents who acquired it. In either case, Morrison did not fill it out or sign it, may have never known about the document, and neither Morrison nor Courson appear to have ever been residents of Colorado. But those facts would not necessarily be relevant to the court’s deliberation on the validity of a common-law marriage, since the determination would be made according to Colorado law. Many of the jurisdictions which still permitted the common law contract of a marriage provide that either party may demand a declaration that a common law marriage was contracted between them, whether the other party (if living) agrees or not. The burden of proof is on the applicant, in any case, to prove that a marriage existed. What is ironic in this case is that both of the alleged applicants were dead, and it was their parents who were trying to prove or disprove that there had been a common-law marriage.
Whatever the circumstances of the unsigned document and the court case, and the controversy surrounding it, the California probate court decided that Courson and Morrison had a common-law marriage under the laws of Colorado. The effect of the court's ruling was to close probate of Morrison's and Courson's estates, and reinforce the Courson family's hold on the inheritance