Jim Morrison was the lead singer of rock band “The Doors”. Born in 1943, Morrison had a successful career with the band but became depressed shortly before his death. In addition to his career with “The Doors”, he was also known for his poetry and he published several books. In July 1971, he was found dead in a bathtub. The cause was said to be an accidental drug overdose. His death appeared mysterious at some points mainly due to the fact that his partner at the time, Pamela Courson, gave different versions of his death. Courson died in similar circumstances just three years later.
Morrison flew to Paris in March 1971, took up residence in a rented apartment, and went for long walks through the city, admiring the city's architecture. During that time, Morrison shaved his beard and lost some of the weight he had gained in the previous months. In Paris, Morrison had two poetry sessions one which was professional and recorded various poems, many of which were used for the American Prayer album. The last studio recording was with two American street musicians — a session dismissed by Manzarek as "drunken gibberish". The session included a version of a song-in-progress, "Orange County Suite", which can be heard on the bootleg The Lost Paris Tapes.
Morrison died on July 3, 1971. In the official account of his death, he was found in a Paris apartment bathtub by Courson. Pursuant to French law, no autopsy was performed because the medical examiner claimed to have found no evidence of foul play. The absence of an official autopsy has left many questions regarding Morrison's cause of death.
In Wonderland Avenue, Danny Sugerman discussed his encounter with Courson after she returned to the U.S. According to Sugerman's account, Courson stated that Morrison had died of a heroin overdose, having inhaled what he believed to be cocaine. Sugerman added that Courson had given numerous contradictory versions of Morrison's death, at times saying that she had killed Morrison, or that his death was her fault. Courson's story of Morrison's unintentional ingestion of heroin, followed by accidental overdose, is supported by the confession of Alain Ronay, who has written that Morrison died of a hemorrhage after snorting Courson's heroin, and that Courson nodded off, leaving Morrison bleeding to death instead of phoning for medical help.
Ronay confessed in an article in Paris-Match that he then helped cover up the circumstances of Morrison's death. In the epilogue of No One Here Gets Out Alive, Hopkins and Sugerman write that Ronay and Agnès Varda say Courson lied to the police who responded at the death scene, and later in her deposition, telling them Morrison never took drugs.
In the epilogue to No One Here Gets Out Alive, Hopkins says that 20 years after Morrison's death, Ronay and Varda broke silence and gave this account: They arrived at the house shortly after Morrison's death and Courson said that she and Morrison had taken heroin after a night of drinking. Morrison had been coughing badly, had gone to take a bath, and vomited blood. Courson said that he appeared to recover and that she then went to sleep. When she awoke sometime later Morrison was unresponsive, and so she called for medical assistance.
Courson herself died of a heroin overdose three years later. Like Morrison, she was 27 years old at the time of her death.
However, in the epilogue of No One Here Gets Out Alive, Hopkins and Sugerman also claim that Morrison had asthma and was suffering from a respiratory condition involving a chronic cough and throwing up blood on the night of his death. This theory is partially supported in The Doors (written by the remaining members of the band) in which they claim Morrison had been coughing up blood for nearly two months in Paris. However, none of the members of the Doors were in Paris with Morrison in the months before his death.
In the first version of No One Here Gets Out Alive published in 1980, Sugerman and Hopkins gave some credence to the rumor that Morrison may not have died at all, calling the fake death theory “not as far-fetched as it might seem”. This theory led to considerable distress for Morrison's loved ones over the years, notably when fans would stalk them, searching for evidence of Morrison's whereabouts. In 1995 a new epilogue was added to Sugerman and Hopkins' book, giving new facts about Morrison's death and discounting the fake death theory, saying “As time passed, some of Jim and Pamela [Courson]'s friends began to talk about what they knew, and although everything they said pointed irrefutably to Jim's demise, there remained and probably always will be those who refuse to believe that Jim is dead and those who will not allow him to rest in peace.”
Sam Bernett, resurrected an old rumor and announced that Morrison actually died of a heroin overdose in the Rock 'n' Roll Circus nightclub, on the Left Bank in Paris. Bernett claims that Morrison came to the club to buy heroin for Courson then did some himself and died in the bathroom. Bernett alleges that Morrison was then moved back to the rue Beautreillis apartment and dumped in the bathtub by the same two drug dealers from whom Morrison had purchased the heroin. Bernett says those who saw Morrison that night were sworn to secrecy in order to prevent a scandal for the famous club, and that some of the witnesses immediately left the country. However, this is just the latest of many in a long line of old rumors and conspiracy theories surrounding Morrison's death and is less supported by witnesses than are the accounts of Ronay and Courson (cited above).