If you're familiar with the music of the Doors, then you know that Jim Morrison was a fairly competent lyricist, in a drug-haze sort of way. His Warren Beatty looks made him highly charismatic, and his deep, masculine voice and bedroom eyes had a particularly hypnotic effect on women.
On March 1, 1969, a stoned Morrison, angry at his Miami audience for reacting negatively to his sloppy performance, made the mistake of either threatening to expose himself or actually doing so. A reviewer wrote the next day that the Doors' lead singer seemed to have simulated masturbation on stage. An investigation was conducted and an arrest warrant was issued for Morrison for lewd and lascivious behavior.
In 1970, Morrison was convicted in Miami, fined and sentenced to six months in jail. But he never served time. He died of a drug overdose in Paris in 1971. This week, Charlie Crist, the outgoing governor of Florida, said he would seek a pardon for Morrison.
The Doors were never my bag. A bit long-winded and droney for my taste. But I'm not opposed to the pardon. Heck, even by 1970s stage standards, Morrison's expression, whatever he actually was doing, is almost quaint by comparison to today's acts.
But let's be fair. Why limit these pardons to rock stars? Let's also pardon the many jazz artists who were arrested, convicted and handed overly stiff prison sentences in the '40s and '50s for possessing drugs. Their spirits and careers were badly damaged, and jazz missed out on large chunks of their potential output.
Here's my vote for 10 jazz musicians who should be pardoned by federal and state authorities along with Jim Morrison...
- Gene Krupa
- Lester Young
- Billie Holiday
- Bud Powell
- Gerry Mulligan
- Miles Davis
- Thelonious Monk
- Jimmy Heath
- Dexter Gordon
- Art Pepper
Feel free to add the names of other pardon-worthy jazz artists in the Comments section of this post.