Jim Morrison was a frontman more prone to a scrape than a toddler’s knees. Over the course of his tragically brief career, he remained no stranger to a jail cell. He was even arrested for allegedly exposing his ‘King Snake’ at a gig in Florida. The common denominator to his various skirmishes was booze, and as we all know, perhaps even from personal experience, alcohol and air travel doesn’t mix well.
The tale goes that Jim Morrison had decided on the morning of the incident to take in a Rolling Stones show at the Veterans Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona on a rock ‘n’ roll whim. He invited The Doors’ publicist and two close friends along for the ride. It was November the 11th 1969, roughly a year on from when he was banned from performing at the venue for inciting a riot that very nearly materialised.
The plans to watch the concert were slightly unhinged when the flight was delayed and from there, the trouble started. Trapped in the airport there was very little for Morrison and his actor buddy Tom Baker to do but drink – a presentment that they were more than happy to oblige in.
By the time the plane was ready to board, the pair were somewhat overly refreshed and when they finally got up in the air, the duo became proverbial misanthropissed’s and took rowdy passengers to the riotous extreme. According to the Morrison biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive, they began heckling the flight attendants. Like a scene from The Wolf of Wall Street, chaos ensued as the artists showed no signs of sobering.
In the end, the pilot had to intervene and told Morrison and Baker that he would turn the flight around and have them arrested if any more disorderly conduct continued. Seeing no point in making the other passengers suffer, he completed the flight and landed in Phoenix, where Morrison and Baker were greeted by FBI agents and placed under arrest.
The drunken duo were accused of being drunk and disorderly and interfering with the flight of an aircraft. It was a serious charge that Morrison’s busy legal team eventually managed to quash without serving a day of what was a potential ten-year sentence, though the gig was sadly missed. The story, however, is synonymous with Morrison’s decline as his brooding rock ‘n’ roll ways, went from onstage charisma to offstage carnage.
This story and many like it were red flags that his skylarking ways might have hinted at something rather more serious, but sadly they were never heeded.