Why Jim Morrison Got Arrested Onstage in New Haven
Jim Morrison was one of the most mythologized and romanticized figures in rock history. A deep-seated anti-authoritarian streak repeatedly landed him in trouble, eventually earning the Doors frontman the dubious distinction of being the first-ever rock star to be arrested onstage – as far as we know.
The group had gathered for a performance on Dec. 9, 1967, in New Haven, Conn., where Morrison was "making out" with a female fan in the shower in the backstage area of the New Haven Arena, according to the late Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. A local police officer who was providing security for the band – apparently not recognizing the singer – told them to vacate the area, and Morrison reportedly replied, "Eat it." The officer brandished a can of Mace and warned, "Last chance." Morrison shot back, "Last chance to eat it" – earning himself a face full of Mace for his defiance.
The officer apologized for the incident after the Doors' manager told him he had just Maced the lead singer of the very band he had been hired to protect, admitting he hadn't recognized Morrison. "Okay, if you're famous, you don't get Maced," Manzarek said. "If you're just a kid making out, then you're gonna get it. So it was like, 'Hold it, man, it doesn't work that way.'"
The concert was delayed to allow Morrison a chance to recover, and when the band finally got onstage, the angry singer took the opportunity to get back at the cops. During "Back Door Man," Morrison recounted the experience in a profanity-laced tirade, reportedly shouting, "The whole fucking world hates me!" He taunted the police from the stage, calling the officer who had hassled him a "little blue man in a little blue hat," as well as a "little blue pig."
Watch the Doors Onstage in 1967 at New Haven, Conn.
He added, "I'm just like you guys, man – he did it to me, they'll do it to you." The cops responded by entering the stage and bringing the show to a halt. They took Morrison into custody, causing a mini-riot as the angry and disappointed crowd took to the streets of New Haven, resulting in 13 additional arrests.
Morrison was charged with inciting a riot, indecency and public obscenity. He posted a bond, but the charges were later dropped. Unfortunately, the incident proved a sad harbinger of things to come.
Fueled by his escalating problems with alcohol, Morrison was charged with exposing himself at a concert in Miami on March 1, 1969, and he was arrested on Nov. 11 of that year for heckling the flight crew of an airliner.
The Miami charges caused many cities and venues to ban the Doors, effectively bring an end to the group's touring career. Morrison was subsequently convicted, but free on appeal when he was found dead in his bathtub on July 3, 1971 in Paris, becoming another in the long line of rockers who died at the age of 27.
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