The Mysterious Death of Jim Morrison

Over half a century later, Morrison's death remains one of the most infamous mysteries in pop culture.

Jim Morrison, lead singer of the legendary band The Doors, passed away on July 3, 1971. As the 53rd anniversary of his death approaches, many fans are looking back at his death – including all the mysteries and conspiracy theories surrounding it. Read on for a look at the story and what fans still want to know decades later.

Morrison passed away in Paris, France at the age of 27, after six years on a roller coaster of fame. Morrison co-founded The Doors in 1965 with pianist Ray Manzarek, establishing himself as a poet, songwriter, singer and eccentric showman. On their meteoric rise to fame Morrison quickly gained a reputation for his over-indulgence in drugs and alcohol, but at the time of his death there was reason to believe that he was actually in the process of conquering those vices. To this day, some fans believe there is more to this story than a simple accident or relapse.


Morrison went to Paris after The Doors finished recording L.A. Woman, intending to spend some time away with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson. According to a report by Far Out Magazine, Morrison went to Europe to escape the hustle and bustle of the entertainment industry and the obligations of his rock star status. His bandmates encouraged him, thinking it would help him reduce his alcohol consumption and clear his head a bit.

Morrison reportedly wrote letters to his friends and bandmates describing long, contemplative walks in the city by himself. He was photographed there, having lost some weight relatively fast and having shaved his long beard and mustache off. A popular speculation is that Morrison was using heroin heavily in Paris, resulting in his weight loss and, ultimately, his death.

Courson reportedly found Morrison dead in the bathtub of their French apartment on July 3, 1971. First responders were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead on the scene. His official cause of death was listed as congestive heart failure, but the circumstances were confusing as his death was not announced for almost a week, and Courson continued insisting to his friends and colleagues that he was alive during that time.

Adding to the mystery of it all, Morrison had often joked about faking his own death in one way or another. This has led fans to believe that Morrison is still alive, and even to claim they have seen him out and about over the years. If Morrison were alive today he would be 77 years old, so he would be difficult to recognize.

Jim Morrison In London

American singer-songwriter Jim Morrison performing with The Doors, London, September 1968. (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)

- Chris Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty)

On top of all the recent alleged "sightings," Morrison's former bandmates threw serious fuel on the fires of conspiracy theories just last year. At the time, guitar player Robby Krieger told Classic Rock: "I used to love talking to Ray, and he would always say, 'I wouldn't be surprised if Jim turned up.' And I used to think, 'Come on, man, you don't really believe that, do you?' That was pretty much some bulls—."

Hints about fake death, reincarnation and other elaborate conspiracy theories abound in Morrison's poetic lyrics. Fans are also fond of reading into perceived numerological significance in the circumstances of his death — Morrison died two years to the day after Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, nine months after Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. All four of them died at the age of 27, and three years later, Courson died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27 as well.

Finally, various theories claim that Morrison was murdered for one reason or another. Many believe that he and the other members of the "27 Club" were taken out by the CIA in an effort to quell the countercultural movement of the era. Morrison did have several high-profile legal issues in the years leading up to his death.

Others say that Morrison was simply killed by drug dealers to whom he owed money. In 2014, singer Marianne Faithful even claimed that her ex-boyfriend, a Parisian drug dealer had killed Morrison with a bad dose of heroin. Her story was not verified by any authorities.

Officially speaking, none of these theories can be verified or vouched for, but they continue to fuel fan speculation. If Morrison were still alive, it would be clear by now that he has no interest in further fame or national attention.