50 Years Ago: Jim Morrison’s Drunken Outburst Almost Gets a Plane Turned Around
There's no denying that Doors singer Jim Morrison was one of the most charismatic front men of his generation. Unfortunately he was one of the most troubled, too. The singer had a terrible alcohol problem that played a big role in his repeated arrests, including one on Nov. 11, 1969, in Arizona that resulted from Morrison and a friend drunkenly heckling a flight crew on a commercial airliner.
The day apparently started out innocently enough, by Morrison standards. He invited the Doors' publicist and two other friends to fly to Arizona with him to catch a performance by the Rolling Stones at Veterans Coliseum in Phoenix – ironically, a venue that had banned the chaos-causing singer from performing there after a 1968 Doors concert nearly started a riot.
But the flight was delayed, leaving Morrison and one friend, underground actor Tom Baker, with idle hands. They had too much to drink and, once the flight got underway, they began to heckle the flight attendants, according to the Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive. Eventually, they caused such a commotion that the plane's captain warned them he would turn around and have them arrested.
He made good on only half of that promise. The flight continued as scheduled to Phoenix, but after most of the other passengers had disembarked, FBI agents boarded the plane and took Morrison and Baker into custody. The intoxicated pair were charged not only with drunk and disorderly conduct, but also the far more serious charge of interfering with the flight of an aircraft. Ostensibly aimed more at stopping hijackers than punishing oafish rock stars, that charge could have carried a $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison.
In the end, Morrison did not serve a day. Completing a downward spiral that had already essentially ended his career with the Doors, the singer died on July 3, 1971, in Paris.