Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Death, Blood, and Rock-n-Roll: A macabre look at the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame (Part 2)

As a continuation of our three part series into a macabre look at the world of death and rock-n-roll inspired by Eric and I's trip to the Hall of Fame, we will visit the death of Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain, along with a quick mention of the grisly group they both belonged to known as the "27 club".

Death Certificate of Jim Morrison of The Doors
Jim Morrison was a visionary, a poet, and an artist. He was best known as the front man of The Doors, which were formed in 1965 and named after a book related to "opening doors" through the use of Mescaline, a naturally occurring psychedelic drug (of course). Their music is still well known, loved, and played to this day with songs such as Light My Fire, People Are Strange (my personal favorite), and Break On Through (To The Other Side), the last of which got them banned from performing on the Ed Sullivan ever again after not changing the lyrics to a line which alluded to drug use (Ed had a show producer tell the band that they will never do The Ed Sullivan Show again. Morrison reportedly said to the producer "Hey man. We just did the Sullivan Show!" Awesome comeback if I may say so myself). As the band's fame grew, so did Morrison's drug abuse, including LSD and Alcohol. He started showing up to recording sessions drunk and was late for live shows. His relationship with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, also got more aggressive with loud arguments, frequent separations, and infidelity on both parts (mind you, it was a open relationship, but Morrison liked to sleep with groupies and actually had a pagan handfasting ceremony with another woman in 1970, but it wasn't legally binding). In 1969, Morrison had tried to start a riot at one of their shows and was arrested afterwards for indecent exposure and convicted of it in 1970 (although other band members insist he never showed himself that night). His last recording session was considered "Drunken Gibberish" by the band's keyboardist Ray Manzarek and can be heard on the bootleg The Lost Paris Tapes. On July 3, 1971, Pamela found Morrison dead in the bathtub of their apartment in Paris, France. Because foul play was never suspected, an autopsy was never performed, but the cause of death is believed to be a heroine overdose (according to one account, Morrison snorted the heroine, believing it to be cocaine). Lots of other reports surrounding his death came to life afterwards, such as circumstances of Morrison's death being covered up (Pamela tried to hide the drug use and claimed he didn't take drugs that night). Morrison's funeral was a pitiful one according to a Madame Colinette, who witnessed the service, with several guests saying very little, throwing a flower down quickly, and rushing to leave the service like it didn't matter or they had better things to do. It's utterly depressing and sad to think that someone who gave so much to music went out with such a pitiful funeral service. Conspiracy theorists to this day believe he never actually died and could still be seen today...like Elvis...I don't think so.

Death certificate of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana
Kurt Cobain is a musical inspiration for many of today's newer rock bands and was a deeply troubled soul. Although the band only released three studio albums, their presence in rock history cannot be denied. The band was formed in 1987 by Kurt and bassist Krist Novoselic (the band didn't find a permanent drummer in Dave Grohl until 1990). The band gained commercial success and defined the grunge genre with the release of their first single, Smells Like Teen Spirit, from their second album, Nevermind, in 1991. The album threw them into the media spotlight and put alternative rock back on the map. Kurt never got a grip on coping with the fame and did not want to be a celebrity whatsoever. Throughout his career, Kurt struggled with bipolar depression and drug abuse, especially heroin. Kurt became involved with fellow rock singer Courtney Love in 1990 (marrying in 1992) and the two bonded over drug use (some see parallels between Kurt and Courtney and Sid and Nancy of the Sex Pistols). Kurt's first attempt at getting clean came in 1992 with a trip to rehab after finding out he and Courtney were expecting their first child, a daughter named Frances Bean Cobain. During an interview after the birth of their daughter, Courtney admitted to using heroin at the beginning of the pregnancy (she stated she didn't know she was pregnant and that the magazine misquoted her) and the child was put in the custody of Courtney's sister. The couple did regain custody of the child after agreeing to weekly drug tests. Kurt's depression and inability to cope with the fame took a huge toll on him and on March 1, 1994, Kurt tried to take his life for the first time (according to Courtney, it was his first attempt) by overdosing on a combination of champagne and Rohypnol (this attempt landed him in the hospital for 5 days). Courtney called the police 17 days later stating Kurt locked himself in their bedroom with a gun and a bottle of pills and stated he was suicidal (Kurt explain he locked himself in the room to get away from Love for a little while, but it was clearly a sign of what was to come). After an intervention on March 25th, put together by Courtney, Kurt agreed to go to detox. While there, he seemed happy and playful with his daughter. This was on March 30th. It would be the last day he saw his daughter. That night, he jumped the fence and caught a plane back to Seattle. That was the last time anyone had seen him alive (except for a few potential sightings around April 3rd, which was when Courtney hired a private investigator to try and find him). On April 8th, 1994, Kurt's body was found at his Lake Washington home by an electrician who was there to do some work. He had a shotgun aimed under his chin and according to the coroner's report, he had been dead since at least the 5th. A suicide note made out to his imaginary friend "Boddah" was found with him (pictured below).

Both of these singers and Brian Jones from the previous article belong to a macabre group of artists known as the "27 club". This group is so called because all of the artists in it died tragically at the young age of 27. Members include greats such as Jimi Hendricks, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Brain Jones, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Dave Alexander, and most recently Amy Winehouse. It seems as though it's true what they say...the good die young.

The final part of this three part post will be up this weekend and it will be a bit of a surprise who is featured and their connection to the macabre history of Rock-n-Roll.

1 comment:

Ursula Andromeda said...

There was something I read that led me to believe there was some possibility that Courtney Love had Kurt Cobain offed. Apparently he had so much heroin in his system at the time of his death that it was unlikely he would have been conscious, let alone been able to pull the trigger on the gun. He was also apparently planning to divorce Courtney.