Crist May Pardon Jim Morrison
His career seemingly over after being trounced in an independent bid for the Senate, Florida Governor Charlie Crist is turning his attention to the pressing matter of three-decade-old conviction of a long dead pop singer.
In his last two months in office, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is considering a December surprise: A posthumous pardon for Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, for indecent exposure charges after an infamous 1969 Miami concert. In a phone interview with The Hill, Crist said “stay tuned” regarding the idea of a posthumous pardon for the singer who died in Paris in 1971.
Morrison, a native of Melbourne, Fla., was convicted of indecent exposure and profanity after a March 1, 1969, concert in Miami in which he allegedly exposed himself and acted lewdly. He had seen a provocative stage play the night before in Los Angeles, and was known to have drank steadily that day en route to Florida. Other band members have stated in interviews over the years that Morrison was clearly drunk at the concert, as obvious from sound recordings which showed he also tried to provoke the audience at various times.
Ironically, Morrison was cleared of drunkenness charges in the ensuing trial, as well as a felony charge for lewd and lascivious behavior, but convicted of exposure and profanity. Morrison and his lawyers had hoped to turn the trial into a First Amendment battle, and he claimed in several later interviews that the trial was a sham. Morrison’s death in 1971 ended the case without him ever serving any prison time.
Crist said he won’t make the decision lightly, noting the many complexities surrounding the 41-year-old case. Numerous sound recordings from the show exist, for example, but Morrison’s defenders say none of the scores of photographs from the show prove the exposure charge. “We would have to look into all of that,” Crist said.
Morrison was a drunken lout who died young from, in all likelihood, a heroin overdose. He’s nonetheless properly regarded as an accomplished songwriter and one of the great front men in rock history. Given how widely and simultaneously held these views are held, it seems absurd to waste much time pretend the former isn’t true.