Photo by G.
There have been countless books written about Jim Morrison, the exploits and the music of The Doors. He was even immortalized in a movie (or extremely long music video with dialogue as I like to think of it). The other day was the 40th wedding anniversary of Jim and his wife Patricia Kennealy-Morrison. Wife?
For those that know little about The Doors, here’s what you need to know prior to reading Strange Days – My Life With And Without Jim Morrison by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison: Jim Morrison, lead singer of the rock group The Doors, while known amongst the Facebook generation as a drugged out rock star, was actually an extremely intelligent and well read person. The guy read (and understood) William Blake and Rimbaud at the age of 16, wrote down the lyrics of concerts that he heard in his head by his early 20s and was a world famous sex symbol by the age of 24. Even under societal pressure and under the influence of drugs and alcohol, the guy still wrote the lyrics for 6 albums worth of music, performed hundreds of concerts across the US and Europe, wrote 3 poetry books and directed a film in the short span of 4 years, and all before his death at age 27. What people don’t know is that he was also married (actually the correct term is “handfasted”) to a witch during the last 3 years of his life. For the spiritually illiterate, a witch is not the Disney-version image that instantly pops into your head when you hear that term, and instead is a celebration of oneness with the divine and all that exists.
That brings us to Strange Days. In 1969 on a tour of New York, Jim Morrison had a one-on-one interview with then rock journalist Patricia Kennealy. Their discussion resulted in a mutual respect for each other’s brains but also beauty. Over the course of the next 3 years, Kennealy and Morrison kept in touch and saw each other whenever possible (which was quite a lot). From all the other books you might read on Jim Morrison, written by people who didn’t even know him, he is only portrayed as a raging alcoholic/druggie to which all people around enabled his addictions. All except one – Patricia Kennealy. Patricia, a smart and successful woman in her own right, knew and loved a Jim Morrison that no one ever talks about, most likely because as the nightly news has proven, stories of horrible things get better ratings than stories of good things. Strange Days depicts a Jim Morrison that found a partner who met his match – mentally and physically – in Patricia Kennealy, and the stories of their adventures together are a necessary but often missing piece of the puzzle, when it comes to biographies on the man.
Jim and Patricia fell in love and they decided to celebrate their love for each other in a handfasting ceremony (which is the Wiccan equivalent of getting married). While this spiritual gesture is better for the soul, it’s not formally recognized by the state of New York. What is most interesting about this ritual than “legal marriage,” is that death does not part, but only lack of love. Patricia finds out she is pregnant with Jim’s child and due to all kinds of impossible circumstances (an obscenity trial, a junkie on-again/off-again girlfriend, Jim flat-out admitting he did not want to have a baby, nor could he or would he take care of it), has an abortion. After the experience, on a visit to see Jim in Los Angeles, Patricia tells the story of an encounter with Pam Courson, known in most Doors mythology as Jim’s “main squeeze.” Guess who comes home during that encounter? The book is worth the cover price just for that story alone as it is truly amazing. I won’t spoil it for you – you’ll have to read the book, but trust me – it’s worth it! There are also stories of Patricia’s experience at Woodstock and seeing some of the most amazing bands of all time at venues that are beyond legendary. Kennealy also recounts her experiences with a Jim Morrison that I mentioned at the beginning of this article – a sensitive man who was brilliant far beyond his years. It’s baffling that everyone overlooks this side of him, but luckily for us, it is revealed by someone who not only knew him, but knew him better than most. We can thank the Creator that because Kennealy is a writer, she kept detailed journals of her experiences.
On a personal level, it was great for me to read Strange Days again because the last time I read it, I was living in Los Angeles and New York was a foreign place to me. Now that I live here, I was able to connect with so many of the locales in Strange Days where Jim and Patricia spent time together. Again, Kennealy reveals a key piece of the puzzle that is generally glossed over in other biographies. When Morrison dies, even though we all knew it was coming, it’s like learning the information for the first time. Patricia writes in a way that transcends the fact that Jim was a public figure and instead, we are reading the intimate portrait of a man loving a woman (and vice versa).
After Jim’s death in 1971, Kennealy has gone on to write many successful sci-fi/fantasy and mystery novels, including the eight volume series, The Keltiad, which is about Celtic legends in outer space as well as the Rennie Stride Mysteries. She has been knighted as a Dame Templar at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland and writes a popular blog called Mrs. Morrison’s Hotel. Strange Days as well as The Keltiad and the Rennie Stride Mysteries are all available now! And many happy returns to the Morrisons!