Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Strange Days

A flashback to the beginning of the end of The Doors — the March 1, 1969 concert in Miami.

The year: 1969. The place: Coconut Grove’s old Dinner Key Auditorium. The headliner: the legendary rock band The Doors and their outlandish lead singer Jim Morrison.

By all accounts, the performance 37 years ago today was forgettable — a lousy concert, some called it. Except for Morrison’s stage antics.

The long-haired and bearded Morrison, then 25, exposed himself, briefly rolling down his beltless leather pants and simulating masturbation before a raucous crowd of fans — or so the authorities alleged.

Morrison followers, along with fans at the infamous Miami concert, say the rock star did nothing illegal.

“Nowadays, we would call it a wardrobe malfunction,” said Donald Bierman, 65, one of Morrison’s two Miami attorneys, who assisted the singer’s Beverly Hills lawyer, Max Fink.

Bierman’s theory: “I think he feigned exposing himself.”

Miami police charged Morrison with indecent exposure and other related offenses, setting in motion a legal battle that pitted prosecutors from a then conservative Southern city with a hard-partying rock icon at the peak of his success.

Neither Morrison nor Miami would ever be the same.

The Doors’ album Strange Days got me through my freshman year of high school. As is the case of most rock albums, it isn’t the music itself or even the poetry of Morrison’s words, but the place and the time and the memories. I never really knew that much about Jim Morrison or his antics on or off stage, but his words and music got to me in that dark year, and now I listen to it with a touch of grateful nostalgia.