“Jim’s drinking habit had grown in parallel with our success, so the members of our band and crew rotated the chore of attempting to keep him as sober as possible on show nights. On December 9, 1967, that chore had fallen on me. . . . He wasn’t drinking more than his usual amount, but his usual amount was more than usual to most people. I had yet to discover a successful strategy to lure Jim over to moderation. Arguing didn’t work. Saying nothing didn’t work. Encouraging him didn’t work.”
That’s Robby Krieger, guitarist for The Doors (as well as a subsequent number of other groupings, although none, obviously, as influential and consequently memorable—as in making a memoir something that might have a wider audience than, say, fans of Robby Krieger’s Jam Kitchen), from his new memoir, Set the Night on Fire: Living, Dying and Playing Guitar With The Doors.
And it is fairly evident that trying to discourage Morrison from getting drunk was something that didn’t work.
The night in question was when the band played the New Haven Arena, promoted by the New Haven College.
According to Krieger, just before the show “Jim was making out with his date in a shower stall.” A police officer didn’t recognize the man who was yet to become The Lizard King, apparently thought he was someone who slipped in, and Morrison “allegedly mouthed office and the cop allegedly sprayed him with Mace.”
Krieger goes on to say of the alleged occurrences (which seems somewhat odd, given that this happened 54 years ago and presumably any legal ramifications are no longer existent so either it happened or it didn’t or Krieger is being ironic, which doesn’t work particularly well in this case if that is his intention), “Jim loved mouthing off to cops, and cops loved having an excuse.” The proverbial double-win.
Undoubtedly, someone who was essentially mouthy to cops under ordinary circumstances had his hackles at stratospheric levels after that (if he was the Lizard King, in this context he would have to be a Komodo dragon). . .but he had to go out on stage, during which performance Morrison, not surprisingly, “launched into his now-famous rant about the little blue man in the little blue suit with the little blue cap who had temporarily blinded him backstage.”
The police came on stage, arrested Morrison, and the rest is legend, especially as a writer for Life magazine happened to have been arrested, as well, and there was coverage of the band in the middle-brow weekly magazine that emphasized the outlaw nature of the band.
Morrison died in 1971 at age 27. Think about that: about four years between the arrest in Connecticut and a heart attack in a bathroom in Paris.