50 Years Ago: Jim Morrison Arrested for Controversial Miami Show
In the spring of 1969, Doors singer Jim Morrison allegedly exposed himself to a concert audience. More than a year later, on Sept. 20, 1970, the long arm of the law finally caught up to him, and he was arrested.
It all began during a March 1, 1969, show in front nearly 12,000 fans in Coconut Grove, Fla. According to some accounts, the singer decided to up the already exciting tone of the concert by dropping trou and exposing his genitals. As Miami Herald reporter Larry Mahoney wrote in "Rock Group Fails to Stir a Riot":
Many of the nearly twelve thousand youths said they found the bearded singer’s exhibition disgusting. Included in the audience were hundreds of unescorted junior and senior high school girls … Morrison appeared to masturbate in full view of the audience, screamed obscenities, and exposed himself. He also got violent, slugged several [concert promoters], and threw one of them off the stage before he himself was hurled into the crowd.
To this day, Morrison's bandmates deny this version of events. As guitarist Robby Krieger explained to Spinner, "They were complaining about Jim whipping it out onstage, which he didn't do: 500 photos were entered as evidence at the trial and not one showed anything of the sort."
Regardless, after rejecting a plea bargain, the singer was found guilty of misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and open profanity and sentenced to prison time and a fine. The case was on appeal at the time of his death on July 3, 1971. Almost 40 years later, in 2010, Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the state's clemency board voted to pardon the singer.