Morrison moved to Paris in March 1971 with the intention of taking a break from performing and concentrating on his writing. Hoping to get his life back on track, Morrison lost a great deal of weight and shaved off his beard.
He died on July 3, 1971, at age 27 and was found in his bathtub by Pamela Courson. According to Stephen Davis' Morrison biography, it was reported the Morrison had dried blood around his mouth and nose and large bruising on his chest. This suggests Morrison might have died from a massive hemorrhage caused by tuberculosis. Many fans and biographers have speculated that the cause of death was a drug overdose, but the official report listed the cause of death as heart failure. No autopsy was performed because the medical examiner, pursuant to French law, found no evidence of foul play or criminality. The lack of an official autopsy left many questions unanswered and provided a fertile breeding ground for speculation and rumor.
In his autobiographical novel Wonderland Avenue, Danny Sugerman recounts that he briefly met with Courson when she returned to America in the mid-1970s. According to his account, Courson told him that Morrison had in fact died of a heroin overdose when he inhaled copious amounts of the substance, believing it to be cocaine. Sugerman added that Courson had also given numerous contradictory versions of Morrison's death, but the majority of fans seem to have accepted the mistaken heroin overdose account. Courson herself died of a heroin overdose a few years later. Like Morrison, she was 27 years old at the time of her death.
Morrison is buried in "The Poets' Corner" of the famous PÃ¨re Lachaise cemetery in eastern Paris. In the past, some of his fans were nuisances, leaving litter, graffiti, and cannabis behind them after their visits. Well-publicized complaints by numerous families of the deceased about desecration of surrounding grave sites led many to expect that Morrison's remains would be forcibly relocated when the 30-year lease to his plot expired. Parisian authorities, however, have denied any such intention. Indeed, Morrison's grave has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Paris, along with Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. In 1993, his parents visited the site and made arrangements with a cleaning company to have the graffiti removed from the nearby tombstones. (WGS84: 48Â°51′33.8″N, 2Â°23′37.2″E)
Morrison's gravestone has a Greek inscription reading ÎÎ±ÏÎ¬ ÏÎ¿Î½ Î´Î±Î¯Î¼Î¿Î½Î± ÎµÎ±Ï
ÏÎ¿Ï (transcribed into Roman lettering: KATA TON DAIMONA EAYTOY). Various interpretations have been proposed, including, "down (presumably in Hell) with his own demons", "burnt by his demons", "with the devil himself." In ancient Greek, the word daimon means spirit rather than demon and contains no negative or pejorative qualities. The phrase is more properly translated as "True to his own spirit," and is the meaning intended by the Morrison family when the inscription was selected. It was Morrison's father who either selected the phrase or drafted it himself.
Some conspiracy theorists contend that Morrison did not die in Paris. The fact that only two people (other than the police, emergency personnel, and mortician), admitted to the press that they had seen his body, has helped keep the rumor alive for over 30 years.
Throughout Morrison's turbulent career, there had been numerous rumors that he had been killed in an auto accident or had died of a drug overdose. Also, in the days preceding the announcement of his death, the press had been told that Morrison was simply "very tired" and resting in an unnamed French hospital, contributing to the suspicion.
In The Lizard King, Jerry Hopkins recounts that, well before the Doors achieved noticeable success, Morrison had joked that he should fake his own death in order to generate publicity. According to some of Morrison's friends and bandmates, once the Doors had achieved their remarkable success, publicity was no longer seen as being so desirable. Morrison then spoke of wanting to fake his death and move to Africa in order to escape the scrutiny that surrounded his every move. He told them that if he could succeed with the ruse, he would write to them using the pseudonym "Mr. Mojo Risin." Such a disappearing act would have paralleled the life of one of Morrison's favorite French poets, Arthur Rimbaud. According to Krieger and other Doors members, they have yet to receive any letters. Nonetheless, some fans still feel his death was a hoax.
Speculation about the cause and actuality of Morrison's death plays a large and continuing role in the Morrison mystique. Rumors still abound that Morrison committed suicide, was assassinated by the CIA, murdered by a witch, died in a toilet at the notorious Rock and Roll Circus (a nightclub in Paris) or any number of variations. Add to that persistent rumors that he is still alive and living in India, Africa, South America, as a cowboy in Oregon, above a Quik-Check in New Jersey, or in North Dakota anonymously and the "Morrison legend" has taken on a life of its own. It may be fitting that Morrison the man, always fascinated by ancient mythology, has merged with the image of Morrison as Dionysus, the ever dying, ever re-born god of ecstasy of ancient Greece.