When one thinks of The Lizard King, AKA The Doors’ enigmatic frontman Jim Morrison, one doesn’t necessarily think of him as an overweight glob of a man. The undying image of Morrison scantily clad in leather trousers is that of a sinewy and sultry rock God, untouched by the humanity of food. However, Morrison, more than most, struggled with his weight and under the spotlight, he developed some serious thoughts about the pressures on being body conscious.
Morrison’s continued drinking would see the singer pack on some pounds towards the end of his life, as his drug of choice continued to add to the issues that the singer faced. In this 1969 interview with The Village Voice’s Howard Smith, Morrison claims that despite the external pressure, “fat is beautiful”. He stands up for all those affected by the public expectations and the image-led world that was slowly building around them.
In the animation below, provided by Blank on Blank productions, we can hear those tapes in full flow as Morrison negotiates the prickly question of his weight gain and the implications of it. Following a cordial chat about what Smith ate for breakfast (“chocolate cake”) Morrison suggests Smith should eat a little more and fill himself out. The room goes a little colder when Smith, clearly himself a little offended says, “you put on a lot of weight, are you eating a lot?”.
The sharp change of pace is tangible in the recording almost as sharp as an intake of breath. Morrison responds by saying: “That’s something that really bothers me. What’s wrong with being fat? That’s what I wanna know.” As Smith back peddles, looking for a way out of the insult, Morrison continues to push forth with the unfair assessment. Even in his self-professed larger days, at 5’11” and 185lbs, Morrison wasn’t exactly gargantuan.
Nevertheless, he offered up a different view of being a little bit on the heavier side. “I was 185 pounds,” continued Morrison, “I felt so great. I felt like a tank. I felt like a large mammal or a big beast. I could knock anybody out of their way.” He then goes on to suggest that skinnier people are worse off because of this, before ending the majority of the statement (he does also offer Howard Smith an arm-wrestling match), with the simple line “fat is beautiful”.
These weight issues are no new thing for Morrison. While working with Paul McCartney’s wife Linda, he also opened up about his weight troubles of the past. In her photography book, Linda McCartney’s The Sixties—Portrait Of An Era, she recalled: “He told me that he’d grown up as a fat kid that no one wanted to know and that this had caused him a lot of emotional pain.”
“Then he explained what had brought it all to the surface. Apparently, he had been walking around Greenwich Village that morning and a girl who he knew as a child had spotted him and started going crazy over him. That bothered him because he sensed the hypocrisy of it all. When he was a fat military brat these people had rejected and ignored him but now, because of his new public image, they were fawning over him.”
It would be a constant struggle that Morrison would often face following his rise to fame. Were the people who surrounded him there for Jim or there for The Lizard King. At times it must’ve been hard to differentiate between the two.
All we know is that Morrison was clearly more aware of social and civil issues than most of his contemporaries – and that he always felt that “fat is beautiful”. Watch the Blank on Blank animation of The Doors’ Jim Morrison speaking with The Village Voice in 1969 below.