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Music

How John Fogerty comically exposed the "cheerful" side of Jim Morrison at a house party

Jim Morrison resides somewhere in our consciousness as a character more so than a man. He is a rock ‘n’ roll edifice concocted in a test tube—all hair, leather, sullen and enigmatic. If you were to draw a Rockstar, you may well draw Morrison. And beyond that, he is the archetypal doom poet too. Most fabled musicians have an air of fiction about them in our minds, but Morrison took that to new heights. 

Seemingly, he even had this effect on his peers, and that was without the embellishing impact of retrospect. As Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty would come to know when he hosted a party in his suite at the Fontainebleau and Morrison rocked up. Like everyone else, Fogerty had heard the fabled tales of mystic rock ‘n’ roll horseman and he set about striking up a bond. 

As Fogerty recalls in his memoir, Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music: “I remember being in the kitchen there, saying stuff like, ‘Yeah, man, I really think the machine are gonna take over,’ stuff I halfheartedly believe.” Fogerty thought that this line of conversation would be ideal to draw Morrison into an enamoured chat given the Book of Revelations style poetry that The Doors frontman was prone to passionately extolling. 

However, that was merely an artistic venture. Furthermore, it might have picked at modern culture, but it spoke of a primordial spirit, some sort of Prelapsarian dream more so than an autocratic apocalypse. Thus, rather comically Fogerty’s ploy failed and comically he was left upholding the dark end of the bargain while Morrison defied his usual caricature by just enjoying a beer. 

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As Fogerty recalled: “Jim’s like, ‘Oh, I don’t feel that way at all. The human spirit will always find a way to continue!’ I’m going, ‘Is this the Jim Morrison I’ve heard about? The guy who sang about killing his dad?’ He was all cheerful. I was the one talking gloom and doom!” The whole thing was like a rejected Seinfield scene.

There are at least two sides to everybody, and Morrison was more multifaceted than most. We might view him as a mystery man in black carrying a clutch of crooked and mystic tales from a mountain on high, or a rock star of the most highwire order who thrust his ego about the stage in a lurid fashion, but beyond the trouble of excesses, he was a man of multitudes. Fogerty’s simple tale is one that shines a light on the quiet, reserved and cheery side of Morrison.

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