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40 years later :: Blog

Jim Morrison: 40 Years Later

Thursday, June 30: 1:41 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Jim Morrison, top right, pictured with the Doors

This Sunday, July 3, marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Jim Morrison. The lead singer of the Doors lived a short, tragic life. He was only 27 when he died of heart failure in Paris, France. But, musically, Morrison accomplished a tremendous amount in his six years with the Doors. As I wrote in my book The Jim Morrison Scrapbook, “From 1967 to 1970, during his spectacular zenith, Jim Morrison seemingly had it all. He was an internationally revered rock star with numerous hit records to his credit, a dynamic stage performer, an alluring sex symbol, and a published poet.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is fortunate to have an amazing collection of artifacts related to Morrison. Several years ago, his parents donated a massive collection of documents related to their son’s life. These items include the hospital bill from when his mother gave birth to him, a very detailed baby book that outlines almost everything Jim did as a little child, notes that he wrote to his parents, family photos, report cards and drawings. We also have his Cub Scout uniform and an athletic letter he earned for swimming in high school ...

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Rock and Roll and the Vietnam War: 40 Years After Kent State

Thursday, May 6: 4:27 p.m.
Panelists from left to right: Country Joe McDonald, Dr. Lauren Onkey, Dr. Hugo Keesing, Doug Bradley

May 4, 1970 marked the 40th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State University, when four students were killed and nine wounded by the Ohio National Guard during student protests of the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. As part of the commemorations, the Rock Hall’s Education department put together a panel at KSU on rock and roll and the Vietnam war. There are, of course, rock and roll songs about the Kent State shootings—most famously, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s single “Ohio”/”Find the Cost of Freedom,” recorded just weeks after May 4th. But I wanted to tell a wider story about the role that rock and roll played in our understanding of the Vietnam war, how protestors, soldiers, and civilians made sense of the war and its aftermath through the music. It was, as Samuel Freedman wrote, the first war to be “fought to a rock and roll soundtrack.”  

I spent the afternoon on the KSU campus, listening to the many speakers who came together as part of the commemoration. Speakers included Florence Schroeder, mother of slain student William Schroeder; Russ Miller, brother of slain student Jeffrey Miller; Joe Lewis, a student who was shot and wounded ...

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