Style & Grooming

Why Jim Morrison Was the Ultimate Romantic Rebel

As we present a summer edit inspired by the Lizard King and created in partnership with MR PORTER, we examine the spirit and style of the Doors frontman

James Douglas Morrison has been called many things. Widely known as the “Lizard King” and “Mr Mojo Risin’”, the frontman of the Doors was referred to as the “first major male sex symbol since James Dean died and Marlon Brando got a paunch”; a “leather tiger”; a “shaman-serpent king”; “America’s Oedipal nightingale”; a “demonic vision out of a medieval Hellmouth” and “the Sex-death, Acid-Evangelist of Rock, a sort of Hell’s Angel of the groin”. For many though, Jim Morrison will be simply known as the bad boy of rock.

Born on 8 December 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, Morrison rose to prominence amidst the tremors of a cultural earthquake: the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War had triggered a whole generation into political activism, while rock music and psychedelic drugs were signalling the dawn of the American counterculture. For many, Morrison and the Doors emerged as figureheads of this movement. Borrowing their name from Aldous Huxley’s seminal book The Doors of Perception (referring to the mind-expanding properties of psychedelics), the band brought poetry to the medium of rock and attracted legions of fans, as well as a fierce backlash from the conservative establishment.

To them, he represented everything they found abhorrent: he was sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll personified; a man who rejected organised religion, had a lot of sex, lived off a diet of canned beans and LSD (allegedly), and sang about getting high. Sporting a long mane of brown curly hair, Morrison had a wardrobe that matched his bad boy reputation – leather trousers were his trademark, often worn with a leather jacket, an unbuttoned shirt and a Native American belt; the ultimate picture of a romantic rebel. On 3 July 1971, Jim Morrison left us, dying of heart failure aged just 27 and in the process joining what would become known as the 27 Club – a list of cultural icons who passed away at that age which includes Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, among others.

More from our Style Icon series:

The Enduring Style of John F. Kennedy Jr.