Since early 1967, the Doors had been on a roll as rock’s sexy princes of darkness. But they came unhinged on Oct. 30, 1970, when Jim Morrison was sentenced after being convicted on charges of indecent exposure and obscenity.
The charges stemmed from a March 1, 1969, concert at Miami’s Dinner Key Auditorium. As sensationalized by numerous press accounts and by Oliver Stone’s 1991 film The Doors, the band played (what else?) ”Touch Me” as an inebriated Morrison started to unbuckle his hip-hugging leather trousers, ranting, ”I’m talking about having some fun! I’m talking about love your neighbor!” before being restrained by a roadie.
On March 5 the Florida state attorney’s office charged Morrison, 25, with open profanity, drunkenness, indecent exposure, and lewd and lascivious behavior. Morrison maintained he had worn boxer shorts underneath his pants and thus couldn’t have exposed himself.
Overnight the Doors became pariahs. The rest of their tour was canceled. A youth group in Miami held a ”Rally for Decency” that drew 30,000. Even the rock press began to turn on the band.
The Doors were virtually unhirable pending case 69-2355, The State of Florida v. James Morrison, which came to trial in September 1970. After eight days, Morrison was found guilty on the profanity and exposure charges, fined $500, and sentenced to six months in jail. He was, however, acquitted of the lewd behavior and drunkenness charges, prompting Doors drummer John Densmore to say, ”The jury got the whole thing backward. Jim was drunk as a skunk, but he did not pull his d— out. So much for justice.”
Just before the sentencing, Morrison explained in grand fashion: ”I think I was fed up with the image that had been created around me so I put an end to it in one glorious evening.” Prophetic words. He remained free on $50,000 bond pending his petition for an appeal but died of heart failure eight months later, before the appeal was ever heard.
Time Capsule: October 30, 1970
Marcus Welby, M.D. was the best therapy on TV, while readers wept over Erich Segal’s Love Story. The Jackson 5 were the reigning kings of pop with ”I’ll Be There,” and movie theaters found themselves in a Catch-22.