The Day Jim Morrison Was Sentenced on Obscenity Charges in Miami
On March 1, 1969, Jim Morrison and the Doors performed one of the most talked about concerts in the history of rock music at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami where he allegedly exposed himself to the crowd. Almost 18 months later and Morrison was in court fighting back against charges of indecency and on Oct. 30, 1970, he was formally sentenced by the court for the act.
The crux of the case hinged on whether or not Morrison actually revealed his genitalia to the 10,000 people in attendance that night. Whether or not he did was a sticking point between the defense and the prosecution at the time, and Doors fans for the many decades since. The group’s guitarist Robby Krieger has been quick to point out that there are no pictures at all to validate the claim, despite the fact that nearly 500 photos were entered into the record as evidence during the trial. But accounts from those who were present for the show tell a different tale.
According to the show promoter Ken Collier, there was no doubt at all whether Morrision was acting indecently, telling Rolling Stone at the time “He was obscene, no question about it.” He then went on to describe the sequence of events beginning with Morrison asking the crowd, “Do you wanna see my c—-?” At which point Collier jumped onstage and grabbed the microphone away while Morrison grabbed his crotch and pretended to masturbate behind him.
For his part, the group’s then-manager Bill Siddons wrote off the affair as “just another dirty Doors show. It didn't seem to be too big a deal." Adding, “No one in the group saw him do it. Morrison said he did it, but not onstage. Like he had been tucking in his shirt or something and he might have slipped a little. But offstage."
The trial began on Aug. 20, 1970, and lasted for 40 days before Morrison was ultimately convicted of two misdemeanor counts of open profanity and indecent exposure. He was sentenced to six months in prison and was levied a $500 fine. While he was appealing the conviction, Morrison was allowed to remain free and headed back to California to finish working with the rest of the Doors on the album L.A. Woman. From there he booked a flight to Paris, where he lived until his death on July 3, 1971.
In 2010, Morrison was granted a unanimous pardon by the Florida state clemency board for his crime, though his widow Patricia Keneally Morrison was actually peeved by the gesture saying, “I have a real problem with the semantics of a pardon. The pardon says that all his suffering and all that he went through during the trial, everything both of us went through, was negated."