Fans keep the fire burning for Jim Morrison, fifty years after his death

·2-min read

The lead singer with The Doors was just 27 years old when he died in Paris on 3 July 1971. The circumstances surrounding his death remain mysterious, but there's no doubt about his final resting-place, a modest but much-visited grave in the Paris cemetery of Père Lachaise, where fans will gather to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his passing.

Jim Morrison shares the quiet of Père Lachaise with some big names.

Chopin, Bizet and Cherubini are among the other musicians buried here; the neighbours include Oscar Wilde, Balzac, Molière, Modigliani, Yves Montand and Marcel Proust.

However, Morrison's grave remains, by far, the most visited.

Jim Morrison spent barely three months in the French capital, and the Père Lachaise cemetery was, ironically, among his favourite haunts.

According to the official version, the singer died of a heart attack in his bath in a third-floor apartment on Rue Beautreillis in the Marais area of the city.

He shared the accommodation with his girlfriend Pamela Courson, a tragically renowned heroin addict. Jim, fed up with the pop scene, depressed by the seemingly endless Vietnam War, had come to Paris to devote himself to writing. He drank heavily, buying white wine in a shop which has since become the restaurant Aux Vins des Pyrénées.

Sordid end in a shady club?

The unofficial version, as revealed by rock journalist Sam Bernett, is no less tragic, if considerably more sordid.

Bernett says in his book, "Jim Morrison, the truth", that the singer died of an overdose in the toilets of a since-closed nightclub, The Rock 'n' Roll Circus, which used to be in the basement at 57 rue de Seine, in central Paris.

"His face was grey; his eyes closed,' Bernett writes. "There was blood under his nose, and a sort of white froth around his slightly open mouth."

In an interview in the magazine Mojo, Marianne Faithfull claimed to know that the fatal drugs had been supplied by Jean de Breteuil, a playboy dealer and her boyfriend at the time. "He killed him," she said. "It was an accident. The dose was too strong. But Jim died."

Among the Paris addresses associated with happier aspects of Jim Morrison's months in Paris are the Shakespeare and Company bookshop on the river opposite Notre Dame cathedral, and the café La Palette, not far from the left-bank chic of Saint-Germain-des-Près, where Jim was fond of drinking.

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