Why Ray Manzarek thought Jim Morrison faked his own death

More than 50 years after that fateful day in 1971, the death of Jim Morrison is still the source of speculation. Even today, those closest to him remain unconvinced that the singer died of an overdose, and with no autopsy to back up these reports, you can’t blame them. The Doors’ keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, was just one of the people who believed Jim Morrison may have met a very different end.

Until his death in 2013, Manzarek held on to the possibility that his former bandmate actually faked his death at the age of 27 in order to escape the pressures of fame. At the time of his death, Morrison was living in Paris, having been forced to leave the US after being convicted of indecent exposure following a 1969 Miami concert. The Doors guitarist, Robby Kreiger, wasn’t so convinced by Manzarak’s claims, however, as he told classic-rock magazine: “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 bullshit.”

While Morrison spent his time in Paris writing poetry, the rest of the band continued working on their new record, quietly awaiting his return. It was a day that would never eat. Eventually, Morrison succumbed to his overconsumption of alcohol, drugs and, famously, food. “Jim was not well,” Krieger recalled. “When he left, he had this horrible cough and he just wasn’t a hundred per cent. So, if somebody gives you some heroin, you start drinking some whiskey, and maybe he did die.”

When Morrison’s body was found in his Parisian apartment on July 3rd, 1971, his cause of death was found to be heart failure, despite no autopsy being performed. He was buried two days later at the Pere Lachaise cemetery, where he joined the likes of Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Gertrude Stein. Within weeks, conspiracy theories started springing up, with numerous people offering alternative versions of Morrison’s demise of him.

In 1983, a British journalist claimed that Morrison had been assassinated by the US Central Intelligence Agency as part of a plot to eradicate spokespeople for the countercultural movement. Others have suggested that the death of the singer was the doing of the French secret services, while some even claim it was part of a Zionist plot. In 2007, Sam Bernett made a far less romantic assertion, claiming that Morrison had died – Elvis style – in the toilet of a nightclub in Paris.

Barnett managed a venue where Roman Polanski, Marianne Faithfull and Morrison were all regulars. In his book, he asserts that Morrison’s body was dragged into a taxi by a couple of drug dealers and sent back to his apartment. The owner, unsurprisingly, never told the police the truth, fearing that a scandal might lead to the closure of his venue. Today, Morrison’s death remains one of the great mysteries of rock ‘n’ roll.

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