Jim Morrison Documentary Begins Production

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‘Before the End: Jim Morrison Comes of Age’ looks into the late Doors singer’s life.

Jim Morrison will be memorialized in a new independent documentary that has started production. Before the End: Jim Morrison Comes of Age will give a look into the life of the late Doors singer, examining his early years through his untimely death in July 1971 at age 27. According to Deadline.com, Before the End will feature interviews with Morrison’s family and friends, including his brother Andy Morrison and Doors roadie Gareth Blyth, as well as previously unseen home movies and photographs. Z-Machine filmmakers Jess and Jeff Finn are leading the project.


Before The End: Jim Morrison Comes Of Age

Wild Child. Erotic Politician. Young Lion.

The Shaman. The Lizard King. The Changeling.

Hippie Adonis. Bozo Dionysus. Mr. Mojo Risin’.

Amazing lyricist. Pretentious poet. Beautiful wreck.

The epithets affixed to legendary iconoclast Jim Morrison, many by his own tongue, reveal a genuine paradox: Morrison appears to have been whomever his audience demanded he be at any given moment. Nearly 50 years after he seized the zeitgeist amidst one of history’s most revolutionary decades, and based solely on his having fashioned [however ironically] the quintessential rock star prototype, his impact as a performer remains largely confined to the domain of parody. And yet Morrison’s electric ghost haunts each new generation. Such a persistent enigma deserves investigation. But where does that leave James Douglas Morrison, the human being? In the independent documentary film Before the End: Jim Morrison Comes of Age, the spotlight is turned on the flesh-and-blood man behind the myth, as well as the boy who begat the man.

Jim Morrison is one of the twentieth century’s most mysterious and misunderstood figures. Morrison tore the seal off of reality and functioned as a blind taste tester for a counterculture that, through experimental daring and the questioning of authority, contributed immensely to societal evolution. But that was just one facet of his fascinating life. Following his reported death ofJuly 3, 1971, his brief chameleonic existence of 27 years left his legacy open to vast misinterpretation, a practice that continues to this day.


For almost a half-century, a mountain of media has accumulated in Morrison’s name. He is an enduring figurehead who was forged during the incendiary 1960s and is best known as the primal and profound singer-songwriter of The Doors. Foreshadowing the punk movement, Morrison screamed, incited riots, ingested hallucinogens, and drunkenly spat at his followers. He also crooned, gave erudite interviews, studied theatre and film, and strove to be acknowledged for his poetry. Endemic to controversy, with each passing year his notoriety only grows. So where does truth end and lore begin? Who was Jim Morrison, really? When did he choose to embrace such contradictory extremes? What set him on his mercurial personal journey? Why is he continually portrayed as a one-dimensional sex-drugs-and-rock & roll cliché? And is there actual proof of his death in Paris? With Morrison not present to defend himself, his methodology has been appropriated by the speculative powers-that-be.

The story of The Doors has been told numerous times. Before the End: Jim Morrison Comes of Age documents Jim Morrison, with particular study given to his formative years, childhood through college, via the family and friends who experienced him as a person, as opposed to a persona.

The truly real Jim Morrison is finally coming into focus.


  • BTE features exclusive interviews with those who knew Morrison the boy and/or man, and not just the rock star myth: Jeff Morehouse, John Huetter, Jim Merrill, Bill Thomas, Randy Maney, David KatzSusan Seymour, Stan Durkee, Robert Delack, George Greer, Nick Kallivokas, Ron Cohen, Ina Massari, Richard Blackburn, Philip O’Leno, Rosanna Norton, and Katie Miller, among many others.
  • To date, most of those interviewed have elected to speak on-camera for the first time, including Jim’s brother, Andy MorrisonBill Adams, Morrison’s UCLA film instructor, Elizabeth Buckner, star of Jim’s first UCLA film, Bryan Gates, Jim’s Florida State University roommate, and Gareth Blyth, roadie for The Doors. In addition, hours of off-the-record conversations with Jim’s sister, Anne Morrison-Chewning, and his first serious girlfriends, Tandy Martin and Mary Werbelow, helped put puzzle pieces in place. And Alain Ronay, Jim’s friend who visited him in Paris just prior to July 3, 1971, has been very generous with his personal memories.

Dream Brother: The Lives & Music of Jeff And Tim Buckley

The Buckleys’ motives were the antithesis of a record business built on verifiable goals. Their music was a journey without a destination. No wonder its allure endures.

Two singers who died young and relatively unknown — Jeff Buckley and his estranged father, Tim Buckley — are the subjects of a new book and are cited by countless performers as inspirations. Tim Buckley’s career is chronicled comprehensively for the first time on a new two-CD anthology, while the keepers of Jeff Buckley’s estate have more than doubled his recorded output since his 1997 death.

Tim Buckley and his son Jeff Buckley

Tim Buckley and his son Jeff Buckley

The Buckleys have never been more popular, their artistry as singers and songwriters never more respected. What’s going on here? Is this another case of death as the ultimate career-enhancing move, another sorry example of tragedy creating its own cult of hero worship, as was the case with pop-culture icons from the Doors’ Jim Morrison to rapper Tupac Shakur?

Not quite. Unlike Shakur, Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and others who have been milked for nostalgia and revenue long after their premature deaths, the Buckleys were not established stars when they died. They were intensely introspective lyricists and gifted singers, blessed with multi-octave ranges that held more than a hint of feminine delicacy and otherworldly power. They also were boyishly handsome, broodingly intense human beings who performed as though they were channeling their innermost secrets, doubts and desires without shame or censorship. Both appeared enraptured when on stage, in the grip of something or someone outside themselves, empowered to attempt the impossible even if it meant looking foolish, or worse.

In his most famous song, “Song to the Siren,” Tim Buckley anguished over a desire so deep it could drive a man to his death: “Now my foolish boat is leaning/Broken lovelorn on your rocks.” The imagery in that line was echoed in an interview with his son more than two decades later. “I want to be ripped apart by music,” Jeff Buckley said in 1994.

“I want it to be something that feeds and replenishes, or that totally sucks the life out of you. I want to be dashed against the rocks.”

Tim and Jeff Buckley both crashed before they had an opportunity to fulfill their promise. Tim Buckley died in 1975 of a heroin overdose; he was 28 and had recorded nine albums, none of which had spent any significant time on the pop charts. He wasn’t even deemed worthy of a review in the leading rock publication of the era, Rolling Stone magazine, until his last album. Jeff Buckley was 30 in 1997 when he drowned in the Mississippi River near Memphis while preparing to record what would have been only his second album. His first album, “Grace,” released in 1994, was a modest cult favorite, selling 180,000 copies — about an average week’s work for ‘N Sync — and leaving him millions of dollars in debt to his Columbia Records label for recording, video, promotional and touring costs.

Yet more than a decade ago, three of Tim Buckley’s songs were covered on albums by the ultra-hip chamber-pop ensemble This Mortal Coil, introducing him to a new generation of listeners. Now it’s possible to trace a straight line from Tim’s searching brand of folk-soul through the work of Patti Smith, U2, Radiohead and the Verve’s former singer Richard Ashcroft, whose latest album (“Alone With Everybody”) is rife with Buckley-isms.

Since his death, Jeff Buckley has directly inspired songs or entire albums by a bevy of artists, among them Hole’s Courtney Love (“Boys on the Radio”), former Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell (“Wave Goodbye”), Juliana Hatfield (“Trying Not to Think About It”), Aimee Mann (“Just Like Anyone”) and Duncan Sheik (“A Body Goes Down”).

U2 closed many of its 1997 stadium concerts by dedicating songs to Buckley, and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have sung his praises, recognizing in Buckley’s soft-to-loud blend of acoustic pastoralism and electric shriekback echoes of their own work in Led Zeppelin.

But it’s on a legion of younger performers that Jeff Buckley has had the most profound impact. Philadelphia boho-rock trio Maggi, Pierce and E.J. dedicates their fourth album, “For” (EMP Records), to “the life and music of Jeff Buckley,” and Canadian-Portuguese singer Nelly Furtado says it was “Grace” that inspired her free-flowing vocals on her acclaimed debut album, “Whoah, Nelly!” (Dreamworks).

Singer-songwriter James Gnecco and his band Ours, a recent signing by high-profile talent scout Michael Goldstone (Rage Against the Machine), is indebted to Jeff Buckley’s sound on its debut album, “Distorted Lullabies” (Dreamworks). And a batch of new British bands suggests more than passing interest in the late singer’s career; Coldplay’s “Shiver,” with its swooping vocals, sounds like a lost track from Buckley’s final sessions.

To those who never saw the Buckleys perform, the level of worship might seem out of whack with the music they left behind. “Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology” (Rhino), a new two-CD retrospective, tries to make sense of the singer’s career, but it’s a thankless task. Buckley never stayed in one place for long, the restlessness of his artistic muse leading him from quaint folk ditties that sound almost Elizabethan in their formality to howling, sadomasochistic R&B fantasies. In between these sometimes embarrassing extremes, Buckley found his most profound voice in a stripped-down acoustic-jazz setting akin to Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks.” Like Morrison, Buckley discovered in the elasticity of these arrangements a perfect complement to the rollercoaster emotions contained in his voice, which deepens on a live version of “Phantasmagoria in Two” and breaks into joyous scatting and near-yodeling on live takes for “I’ve Been Out Walking” and “Troubadour.”

Concert performances brought out the best — and worst — in Jeff Buckley, though unlike his father (who worked with such accomplished musicians as the guitarist John Underwood and bassists John Miller and John Balkin) the younger singer never found a band versatile enough to do his vision justice. Jeff Buckley was never more persuasive than when accompanied only by his electric guitar at the Uncommon Ground coffee shop in Wrigleyville on a winter’s night in 1994. His voice breaking into androgynous squeals and erotic moans, Buckley brought a hymn-like beauty to songs associated with Edith Piaf and Leonard Cohen.

A few months later, Buckley was melting down on stage at the Green Mill, after a drinking binge precipitated by a quarrel with his record company. The incident is examined in David Browne’s meticulously researched dual biography, “Dream Brother: The Lives & Music of Jeff & Tim Buckley” (Harper Collins; $25), which ties together the lives of two men who barely knew each other but who suffered much the same fate at the hands of an uncomprehending record industry.

Jeff Buckley typically avoided talking about his estranged father (Tim Buckley was divorced from his Jeff’s mother, Mary Guibert, when Jeff was still an infant). But “Dream Brother” suggests that he began to empathize with Tim Buckley’s relentless record-company struggles as similar pressures came to bear in Jeff’s life. Tim Buckley was never in the good graces of record executives for very long, in part because he never settled on an immediately accessible direction for his career, preferring to see his art not in terms of a linear path but as an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors and possibilities.

Jeff Buckley’s sole studio release, “Grace,” suggests that he shared at least some of that philosophy; its ecstatic eclecticism points his career in a half-dozen directions at once. But by mid-1997, Buckley had already aborted sessions for a follow-up album and was struggling to find a new direction; his band had just flown into Memphis to work on the singer’s demo tapes when he drowned. The unfinished music from that period has since been released as “Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk” (Columbia), and it’s a difficult listen for the uninitiated, like overhearing one of the voices in an intensely private phone conversation — powerful, self-indulgent and, with a few exceptions, lacking in the immediacy that distinguished “Grace.”

Judged purely on the studio recordings they left behind, Jeff and Tim Buckley were works in progress, artists still searching for their identity in a music-business not known for indulging the whims of mavericks. But their best music has a rapturousness lacking in much of today’s product-pushing industry, a sense of risk that flirts with melodrama while chasing transcendence, and a soul-baring beauty that makes even their most abject failures seem somehow noble. The Buckleys’ motives were the antithesis of a record business built on verifiable goals. Their music was a journey without a destination. No wonder its allure endures.

The Doors Unearth 1968 Concert Footage

The Doors Bound Through ‘Hello, I Love You’ in 1968 Performance.

Song comes from new ‘Live at the Bowl ’68’ concert video

By Rolling Stone
September 21, 2012 8:00 AM

Back on July 5th, 1968, the Doors lit up the Hollywood Bowl with an epic post-Independence Day show, which is the subject of the band’s upcoming Live at the Bowl ’68, a new concert video of the memorable gig. Here, the legendary quartet digs into “Hello, I Love You,” off their 1968 album Waiting for the Sun. The band gives a tight, clean performance of their hit, with Jim Morrison’s vocals draped precisely over the raucous track.

Live at the Bowl ’68 will be available on October 22nd on DVD, Blu-ray and digital video, with audio available on CD, double-LP and digitally.

On 5 July 1968 The Doors took to the stage of the Hollywood Bowl for a concert that has since passed into legend. The Doors were performing on the back of their 3rd album release “Waiting For The Sun” and the US No.1 single “Hello, I Love You”. They had been honing their live performances over the previous 2 years and were on absolute peak form. Now for the first time the original film footage from the Hollywood Bowl has been digitally scanned and restored to present the show better and more complete than it’s ever been seen before, with 2 previously cut tracks returned to the running order and with sound newly remixed and mastered from the original multitrack tapes by The Doors’ engineer and co-producer Bruce Botnick. This is now the definitive edition of this famous performance.