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Music

What was the final Doors song Jim Morrison sang live?

@TylerGolsen

When Jim Morrison approached the microphone on December 12th, 1970, there was already a commotion. For years, Morrison enthralled crowds with some of the most powerful and wild antics that rock audiences had ever seen. As the self-appointed Lizard King, Morrison cavorted and careened across the stage, leaving audiences in fits of hysterics.

Not so much when the band pulled into the New Orleans venue The Warehouse. The man who stepped onto the stage didn’t even look like Jim Morrison: this guy was bearded, slovenly, a little chubby, and largely immobile, practically leaning on the microphone stand for support between musical belching. The once-unstoppable force that was Morrison was now reduced to a drunken shadow of his former self.

Most of the recollections of The Doors’ career tend to stop here, or at the very least take this version of Morrison into Paris where he would eventually die less than a year later. But Morrison often went back and forth between the alcoholic mess that had become notorious and a more lean and focused lead singer. He gained and lost weight frequently, and on the rare occasion that he shaved, Morrison even sometimes looked like that svelte world-conquering frontman who helped The Doors ascend to the top of the pop charts in 1967.

In fact, at the previous shows that the band had performed a few days before, Morrison seemed to have his act together. The band were performing new songs from their upcoming album L.A. Woman, which the group would begin recording following these live dates. Instead of drunkenly ranting and raving, Morrison bellowed out the vocals to the new songs and threw out solid versions of the band’s best-loved material. With the trial of his notorious Miami exposure incident completed the previous month, Morrison had a reason to see the shows as a fresh start.

That didn’t quite happen. Instead, Morrison showed up in New Orleans drunk and unhappy. “Jim had a buzz on that night,” recalled Don Fox, a promotor who helped put on the show. “I don’t know what exactly from, but he was not all there. He was slurring and rambling. He was having a tough time.”

The set opened with the one-two blues punch of ‘Roadhouse Blues’ and ‘Back Door Man’, but Morrison was clearly struggling. The Doors wound up playing 20 songs in total that night, but few were of high quality. Band archivist David Dutkowski told writer Keith Spara that the other members believed they were witnessing Morrison deteriorate in real-time.

“Multiple band members said it was like something left him at that moment,” Dutkowski said. “Ray Manzarek swore he looked up from his keyboard and saw Jim’s spirit leave his body. He swears the shamanistic energy, the soul of Jim Morrison, flowed out of his body and with it, the will to perform.”

During the group’s show-stopping finale ‘The End’, Morrison finally exploded. “I was standing on the side of the stage at the end,” Fox said. “Jim started talking about life and death and what was going on in the world in 1970. All of a sudden, he took the mic stand and started smashing it and smashing it right into the stage floor. And then he walks off.”

The rest of the band’s planned tour dates were cancelled, and instead it was decided that their focus should turn to finishing L.A. Woman. Morrison managed to pull himself together to finish the album, but once sessions were officially done, Morrison flew to Paris to meet his girlfriend Pamela and never again returned to the United States. Only four months into his stay in France, Morrison was found dead, making his volatile performance of ‘The End’ his final live song.