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Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,664 ratings  ·  142 reviews
As an artist and persona, Jim Morrison epitomized the late 1960s, bridging a burgeoning counterculture and popular culture, while acting out the iconoclastic rage, rampant libido, and spectacular flameout of a tumultuous era. The music he created with The Doors has sold over 50 million records worldwide—with over 13 million in the last decade alone, as their songs have bee ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published June 17th 2004 by Gotham (first published January 1st 2004)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  3,664 ratings  ·  142 reviews


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Nat K
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books, music
Poet, charismatic, artist & wordsmith.
Intellectual, shaman & lizard king.

Loose cannon, risk taker, drunk.

Jimmy, Jim, James.

Jim Morrison was definitely one of a kind. A muse to a generation, still idolised decades after his sad & untimely demise in Paris, 1971.

Stephen Davis’ book explores the life of the man behind the myth. The face of the Doors and iconic poster boy of the 60s.

This is a damn decent read. It deftly captures the tone of the 60s, a time of tumultuous change and upheaval, with Door
...more
Clark Hallman
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Jim Morrison, Life, Death, Legend, by Stephen Davis, is without a doubt the most researched and most informative one of the six books I have read about Jim Morrison. Although it does not solve all the mysteries about his life and death, it presents a very detailed and believable description of a young man, who really just wanted to be a poet, but simply could not deal with the stress and pressures caused by his revolutionary rock star image. It includes details of extreme and self-destructive be ...more
Estelle
May 09, 2015 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this one.
As a biography, it does its job right retracing the life of Jim Morrison in great details and it was especially interesting to learn about his childhood and relationship (or lack of) with his family as well as his very last days in Paris.

That said, it's a very long book and because it was writen in such a chronologically linear way, it often felt repetitive. But I guess it is to be expected when you want a thorough history of the man and of the band.

My real
...more
Jim Cherry
Jan 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
The program for this evening is not new, you’ve seen this entertainment through and through.
-Jim Morrison.

Stephen Davis is the author of the acclaimed Led Zeppelin biography Hammer of the Gods, so it was probably a no-brainer for someone to think he would write the definitive biography of Doors singer Jim Morrison. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Jim Morrison is a derivative biography relying on the interviews and research of previous biographies. It was the Morrison biography No One
...more
Troy
Apr 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: music
I've read practically every biography on Jim Morrison (The Doors are my all-time favorite band), from the original -- albeit suspect pulp -- "No One Here Gets Out Alive," to Stephen Davis' addition to the funeral pyre, "Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend." In the latter, Davis' factual errors makes Jerry Hopkins' "Lizard King" seem exhaustively researched in comparison. Not only that, the author wastes the first 302 pages on rehashed information contained in nearly every book published up until J ...more
J.P.
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Doors fans, biography fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dave Thompson
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I will readily admit I've been a disciple of Jim Morrison since I was in middle school, so I can call myself both an expert and an admitted fan boy. I've read all of Morrison's work (in fact, I own first editions of much of his poetry). I've also read all of the biographies, from "No One Here Gets Out Alive" through the various faked death theories, and now this latest tome. In fact, I read "Life, Death, Legend" twice.

I think Davis tries a little too hard at times to be objective, as if the only
...more
Sandi (Zorena)
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, biography, music
I tend to read more musician's biography's than most other types of biographies. The main reason being that some of these musicians were true poets. Mr. Mojo Risin (anagram for Jim Morrison) was definitely one of them.

Obsessive personality - check
Tortured soul - check
Substance abuse - check
Ability to use words that effect one deeply - check
Not all poets follow this list but the good ones usually do.

As for this book I have to say that this is what a biographer should do. Davis pulled no punches.
...more
Jasmine Rodriguez
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness, yes. This was such an in depth biography of the Lizard King. I could not get enough of this book. I put off reading the last section because I didn't want him to end. Jimmy Morrison had a beautiful mind and a tragic life to match. Such a shame he never made it past 27.
Paul Gleason
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Davis' biography of Morrison tries to be many things. It succeeds in some cases and fails in others.

The book functions well as an attempt to see Morrison in the historical and cultural milieu in which he lived and produced his work. In this regard, it's a terrific reference book for readers interested in approaching Morrison from a historicist perspective.

But there's a problem inherent to Davis' method. First, it sets up an impossible task. Let's face it: it's impossible to touch on all the hist
...more
Donna
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This is my first book on The Doors. I thought it quite comprehensive and appreciated the chronologic format and the bit of surrounding history of the time. Kind of gritty and raw at times. I found myself getting sad and depressed. I forgot how much was going on in the world. Not sure if things changed that much.

I did note that the musicians of that time were generous with each other and told others to make sure they see other bands, etc. Certainly isn’t done these days.

The way this book was pr
...more
Brittany Cormier
Jun 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
There are significantly better books out there on The Doors and Jim Morrison. It almost seemed as though the author had an unhealthy obsession with Jim's sexuality. He seemed to fetishize Jim and it made me really uncomfortable the further I read. I did not actually finish this book. He was also really sexist in the way that he wrote about women, especially in comparison to how he wrote about men. To be clear, I am not conservative in my attitudes towards sex. That's not the issue I took. This a ...more
Bogdan Diaconescu
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this book to everyone who liked The Doors and is intrigued about how Jim Morrison became a legend.
Steve
Jul 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
I recently watched the Tom DeCillo film "When Your Strange" about the Doors, and discussed my impressions with a neighbor who also happened to catch the broadcast on PBS's American Masters series. He lent me a copy of this book, and whereas I thought the documentary was kind of weak, I felt that this biography of Morrison was truly engaging. Jim Morrison was such a complex individual, full of contradictions. He could be sensitive, caring, and was no doubt extremely charismatic, but at the same t ...more
OCNY
Jul 03, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Awaited over 6 months for this book to be published and was let down almost immediately. Almost all but 2 pictures have been published before and the story itself has already been covered by previous bios. Still, it's an ok read for the uninitiated, but for those who have read other Morrison bios, there is nothing new covered here--except maybe that the surviving Doors were not the best friends with Morrison that they now make themselves out to be. One glaring error was the author has Morrison a ...more
Paul
Dec 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
I'm not the biggest The Doors fan. I like them okay and fully support anyone who want to put a dollar in the jukebox to put on one of their songs, but I don't own any of their albums, I can't even remember listening to one all the way through until I read this book. Just the same, I enjoyed learning about Jim Morrison's life--for about 200 pages. The story repeats itself over and over: short bursts of creativity mixed up with a lot of alcohol, drugs and sex. And the author does nothing to improv ...more
Tyrone
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is hands down the best biography of Jim Morrison that I have read so far. It tracks his life, from childhood, growing up in various different towns in the US (moving as his father was posted to different naval bases) to his meteoric rise and fall as The Electric Poet.
The tone of the book is great, and was quite depressing as Jim drowns himself in the bottom of various bottles, all leading up to that fateful night in Paris, 1971.

Waiting on "Light My Fire" by Ray Manzarek to arrive so I can
...more
Donna
Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
As a fan of The Doors, this was a really interesting book for me. Stephen Davis really captures the life of Jim Morrison in a way which evokes at times great shock, and at times real sympathy. On reading this one can recognise the rare talent and intelligence that this man had, and leads one to wonder what more he could've given had he not died so young.
Aileen
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A long, fascinating read about the Doors’ frontman. I was 16 when he died, thankfully too young for the 60s’ booze and drugs culture, but loved their music. With hindsight, what a waste of a talented man. Self-destructive even from his college days, it seems he was destined not to make old bones.
Becky
Apr 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
not accurate AT ALL. i dont recommend it.
Nissa
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great book. I want to read it again.
Bradley
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Many mistakes here...too bad.
Lori
Mar 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The best Morrison biography I have ever read - bar none! And I loves me some Jimmy.
Diane
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a young teenager, I loved Jim Morrison (and still do) His deep baritone voice, his leather pants, long curly hair, conch shell belt...should I go on? No, probably not. So when I saw this book in a discount book store, published in 2005, I had to have it. It started out slow, but soon, I was able to get totally immersed.

There are many published books about The Doors and Jim Morrison, but this is the only one that I have read, so I cannot compare this to any others. I thought this one was well
...more
Cody Lerch
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge Jim Morrison fan. I happened to stumble upon this book when I was in the bookstore trying to find something to pass the time before my flight boarded. Once I bought it and read the first 20 pages, I was hooked. This is the best biographical piece of writing I've read on Jim. To me, this stands out because it's an account more into his private life and less of the legend of the man himself. Jim was damaged, troubled, and battled demons. Those who saw the greatness, wrote about it and ...more
Ophelia MJ
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I spent two days reading the last 200 pages of this book. I had already known a lot about Jim Morrison, but seeming his life like this as it happened, is so eye opening, so sad. I loved hearing about the up and coming years, and California in the early 60s. I have always felt so connected to that time period. Reading about the politics at this time, and going from JFK to Nixon, I couldnt help but relate to Jim and the rest of the country's unrest. Its truly horrific how things have not changed a ...more
Priyanka Pathak
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's when you go through this exhaustive biography that you learn that Jim Morrison, the lead singer of the famous band The Doors, is known more for his poetic vision and insatiable appetite for spiritual, sexual and psychedelic experiences rather than rock music. He was known for the way his music embodied the spirit and psyche of a generation. Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend takes its readers through the life events of Morrison, a man who was tortured by inner demons that controlled his crea ...more
Nishant Bhagat
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the only biography I have read of Jim Morrison and that too twice! Hence comparison with the others is not possible. All I can say is that the author has captured the essence of the Lizard King's small but tumultuous life beautifully.

This is surely a book to buy and keep especially if you are a Doors fan.
Randolph
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read thousands of books and I have read hundreds of books about rock and roll and bios of the famous and infamous.I have never read a better rock bio....I would have dreams about Jim many nights. It may have helped that I read the last part while in Paris and visited Jim's grave...but, still and all, a grand, amazing, well written book!
Tim Clemons
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A sad, tragic account of a talented, conflicted soul. Morrison possessed musical genius and was not afraid to push beyond the form of traditional rock and roll, but could not conquer the demons that ultimately destroyed him at the young age of 27. By the time you finish reading this book, you will have an intimate view of one of rocks’ most misunderstood and under-rated icons.
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Stephen Davis is is a rock journalist and biographer, having written numerous bestsellers on rock bands, including the smash hit Hammer of the Gods. He lives in Boston.

Librarians note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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