The Doors lead singer went on trial after the 1969 “Miami Incident”
Jim Morrison is sentenced to 6 months of hard labor on this day in 1970
On March 1st, 1969, The Doors play one of Rock History’s most infamous concerts at The Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, Florida in what came to be known as the “Miami Incident”. The concert would had a strong negative impact on The Doors career as several cities of their current U.S tour canceled the concert dates, the newly released album “The Soft Parade” end up lacking from severe promotion due to the Miami concert. The auditorium was a converted seaplane hangar that had no air conditioning on that hot night, and the seats had been removed by the promoter in order to boost ticket sales. Morrison had been drinking all day and had missed connecting flights to Miami, and by the time he eventually arrived the concert was over an hour late in starting, and he was, according to Ray Manzarek, “overly fortified with alcohol”. The restless crowd of 12,000, packed into a facility designed to hold 7,000, was subjected to undue silences in Morrison’s singing straining the music from the beginning of the performance. Morrison had recently attended a play by an experimental theater group, the Living Theatre, and was inspired by their “antagonistic” style of performance art. Morrison taunted the crowd with messages of both love and hate, saying, “Love me. I can’t take it no more without no good love. I want some lovin’. Ain’t nobody gonna love my ass?” and alternately, “You’re all a bunch of fuckin’ idiots!” and screaming “What are you gonna do about it?” over and over again. As the band began their second number, “Touch Me”, Morrison started shouting in protest forcing the band to a halt. At one point, Morrison removed the hat of an onstage police officer and threw it into the crowd; the officer, in turn, removed Morrison’s hat and threw it. Manager Bill Siddons recalled, “The gig was a bizarre, circus-like thing, there was this guy carrying a sheep and the wildest people that I’d ever seen”. Equipment chief Vince Treanor said, “Somebody jumped up and poured champagne on Jim so he took his shirt off, he was soaking wet. ‘Let’s see a little skin, let’s get naked,’ he said, and the audience started taking their clothes off.” Having removed his shirt, Morrison held it in front of his groin area and started to make hand movements behind it. Manzarek later described the incident as a mass “religious hallucination”. On March 5, the Dade County Sheriff’s office issued a warrant for Morrison’s arrest claiming Morrison deliberately exposed his penis while on stage, shouted obscenities to the crowd, simulated oral sex on guitarist Robby Krieger, and was drunk at the time of his performance. Morrison turned down a plea bargain that required the Doors to perform a free Miami concert. Conservative protests took place around the country denouncing The Doors as an obscene group and demanding for Morrison to be condemned in order to make an example of it so it wouldn’t start a trend. On September 20th, 1970, Morrison was acquitted on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior, but was found guilty of exposing himself. At his trial at the Dade County Courthouse in Miami, Judge Goodman sentenced Morrison to six months hard labor and a $500 fine for public exposure and sixty days hard labor for profanity. The sentence was appealed, but Morrison was never brought to trial, as he moved to Paris, France where he would die on July 3rd, 1971. In 2007 Florida Governor Charlie Crist suggested the possibility of a posthumous pardon for Morrison, which was announced as successful on December 9, 2010. The Doors members Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek have denied the allegation that Morrison exposed himself on stage that night. Though the concert wasn’t filmed, Oliver Stone reenactment in the 1991 biopic “The Doors” has been considered as the closest on film to what happened in Miami that night.
Watch 1970 TV Footage concerning the Miami concert and Jim Morrison’s trial, including a Morrison interview
Listen to “Five To One” an excerpt of the Miami concert featuring one Jim Morrison’s controversial raps that night
Watch more The Doors related videos
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