Tag Archives: jim morrison

The Devil and Robert Johnson

His guitar wizardry made folks in the Mississippi Delta believe he had sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his talent.

When Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones first heard one of his recordings, he couldn’t believe it was only one guy on the guitar and asked, “Who’s the other guy playing with him?”

Blues guitar great Robert Johnson, who was born 100 years ago yesterday in Mississippi, is truly one of the “legendary” founders of blues and rock and roll; a legend that is based as much on his flimsy biography as for his guitar proficiency.

Although he was later one of the founding inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was almost completely unknown during his lifetime. What is known is that he was born in Mississippi and spent some time in Memphis as a boy, where his father moved after separating from his mother.

As a young man he played harmonica and jaw harp in the Delta, where musicians claimed he was a terrible guitarist at the time. He reemerged a short-time later as a beast on the strings, birthing a myth that he had entered into a pact with the Lord of Darkness at a crossroads at midnight.

Were it not for a handful of poor recordings made in San Antonio in 1936 and a year later in Dallas, his name and image would most likely have been forgotten forever.

Instead, when his recordings resurfaced in the early 60s, he was able to influence several soon to be rock guitar gods, like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Jimmy Page.

In August 1938, Johnson was playing shows around Greenwood, Mississippi, when he died from poison said to have been administered by the jealous husband of a woman he was seeing.

His death at the age of 27 began a dark tradition later continued by Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain.

She Lived On Love Street

It was once thought that Neil Young wrote Cinnamon Girl about her. While this was simply a rumor, what is true is that Meg Ryan once played her in a movie.

What’s also true is that Pamela Courson’s boyfriend – who just happened to be Jim Morrison of the Doors – once lived with her in Laurel Canyon. The street they lived on would became the subject of one of the band’s most cherished songs.

You won’t find Love Street on any MapQuest searches of Los Angeles. What you will find is 8021 Rothdell Trail, where the couple once resided on the top floor. “Love Street” was their nickname for the thoroughfare because of all the hippies who lived in the canyon.

Courson was born in 1946 and dropped out of high school to join the music and drug scene of the Sunset Strip (which may have seemed destined for a girl born in Weed, California). It was there that she met Morrison, while the Doors were still struggling to land a recording contract.

The couple began a relationship that was described as “open” and “tumultuous.” It would continue throughout the remainder of Morrison’s life.

Sometime before 1968, Morrison and Courson moved into the apartment on Rothdell Trail where Morrison wrote a poem about her. It would later become the song Love Street after Doors guitarist Robby Krieger put the words to music. The song appeared on the band’s Waiting For The Sun album, and was the B-side of the single Hello, I Love You.

Courson had “a house and garden” when she lived on Rothdell Trail, as well as a balcony, from which she and Jim would watch the hippies pass by. (The “she has me and she has you,” line in the song is said to refer to Courson’s habit of sharing her bed with other men besides Morrison.)

When Jim died in Paris in 1971, his entire estate went to Courson, who he had named in his 1969 will. When she followed him in death from a heroin overdose during this week in 1974, the Morrison fortune passed to Courson’s parents.

Morrison’s parents, who Jim always claimed were dead, were both very much alive at the time of his death, and later contested his will. In an effort to strengthen Courson’s claim to Morrison’s royalties, the Courson family attorneys were somehow able to successfully argue that Jim and Pamela were a common-law married couple, even though common-law marriages don’t exist in the state of California.

After Courson’s OD, her parents tried to have her body buried in Paris alongside Morrison’s, but legal red tape prevented this from happening.

Instead, her cremated remains were entombed in Santa Ana in a niche with her name listed as “Pamela Susan Morrison.”

(Last June, the couple’s house on Rothdell Trail, where Jim wrote Love Street and several other of the band’s songs, came on the market for $1.1 million.)