‘Final 24’: Did Jim Morrison really die in a bathtub at his Paris apartment, why wasn't any autopsy done?

Many theories link his death to a heroin overdose and the riddles remain unsolved


                            ‘Final 24’: Did Jim Morrison really die in a bathtub at his Paris apartment, why wasn't any autopsy done?
Jim Morrison (Getty Images)

One of the most iconic singer-songwriters and a member of the tragic 27 Club, Jim Morrison was the lead vocalist of The Doors. Morrison's melodious tracks like 'Hello, I Love You', 'Light My Fire' and 'Moonlight Drive', 'People Are Strange' and 'Riders on the Storm' soon became chartbuster hits.  The singer who embodied "hippie counterculture rebellion" was born in late 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, to Clara Virginia and Lt George Stephen Morrison. Since a very young age, he developed a fondness for philosophical writings. In the 1960s, Morrison started depending on alcohol and on the night of July 3, 1971, he was found dead. 

What really happened on the night of his death? An AXS TV documentary 'Final 24' attempts to solve the mystery.

On the last night of Morrison’s life, his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, booked an apartment at 17-19, rue Beautreillis in Le Marais, 4th arrondissement, Paris where the rocker reportedly listened to records, fell ill and died of a heath attack in his bathtub on July 3, 1971. He was 27. An autopsy was not performed as the French Law at the time did not need it. Many theories link his death to a heroin overdose and the riddles remain unsolved. 

The Doors (Getty Images)

Almost 50 years after his death, the mystery is still as strong and several rumors still swirl around the death of The Doors frontman. 36 years after that ill-fated night, a former Paris nightclub manager has a different story to tell. In a new French-language book 'The End: Jim Morrison', Sam Bernett said that Morrison died in a toilet stall of his club after what he believes was a heroin overdose. "The flamboyant singer of The Doors, the beautiful California boy, had become an inert lump crumpled in the toilet of a nightclub," he told The Associated Press and added, "For me it’s a very bad (memory)."

In the late 1960s, Morrison was going through a troubled time. At a 1969 concert in Florida, he was accused of exposing his genitals to the audience. Convicted of indecent exposure and profanity, the singer was soon bashed with a stream of negative publicity and several promoters canceled concerts. With his appeal pending, he went to stay with his girlfriend in Paris and he was seen wandering the streets, sightseeing with a rucksack of his writings. Several people have noted how he gained so much weight that he became unrecognizable and his health suffered.

Morrison spent "practically every night" at the Rock and Roll Circus, the hip Left Bank nightclub that Bernett managed, where stars like Roman Polanski and Marianne Faithfull were regulars, Bernett said. "When we found him dead, he had a little foam on his nose, and some blood too, and the doctor said, 'That must be an overdose of heroin,'" Bernett said. He also revealed that Morrison was scared of needles so he only snorted the drug. He also believes that the dealers who sold him the drugs wanted to cover up the matter so, they brought him back to his apartment where they placed him in the bathtub.

Jim Morrison and his girlfriend Pamela Courson (Getty Images)

Not just that, Patrick Chauvel, a noted war photographer and writer, recalled how he gave a hand to some men carrying Morrison in a staircase. "I think he was already dead," he said in his 2005 book 'Au-Dela des Doors'. He also argued how an ambulance would have been called if Morrison were still alive. "I don't know," he said. "It was a long time ago, and we weren't drinking only water."

Stephen Davis, the author of 'Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend', didn't want to rewrite history. "It just seems likely that if he died in the toilet of a nightclub, it would have come out before now," Davis said. Morrison's girlfriend, who died three years later of an overdose, painted a totally different picture of his death. She said the pair went to the movies, had dinner, listened to records and fell asleep. In the middle of the night, Morrison was feeling ill and he went for a hot water bath where he was found dead. 

Buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, one of the city's most visited tourist attractions — alongside Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, French cabaret singer Edith Piaf's burial sites, his grave had no marker and was listed in the cemetery directory with an incorrect name: "Douglas James Morrison."

Croatian sculptor Mladen Mikulin finally paid a tribute to Morrison and placed a bust of his own design and a new gravestone in 1981 on his tenth death anniversary but it was stolen in 1988. While Mikulin replaced it with another bust in 1989 and a bronze portrait in 2001, both the artifacts are no longer at the gravesite. In 1990, Morrison's father, George Stephen Morrison, placed a bronze flat stone on the grave with the Greek inscription: ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ, translated as "true to his own spirit" or "according to his own daemon". 

‘Final 24’ airs every Wednesday at 9 pm ET on AXS TV. More weekly episodes will feature the lives of several other iconic celebrities. 

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