Meeting the Lizard King
Admiral Morrison, accompanied by his wife, Clara, had driven to Dulles Airport to pick up their daughter, Anne, her husband, Alan Graham, myself, who they hadn’t seen since England, and our new grandchild, Dylan.
For six weeks, we newlyweds lived with the family in the posh suburb just a few miles across from the Potomac River. A retired secretary of defense, a retired admiral, and a Pentagon intelligence official were among their neighbors – a veritable who’s who of Washington’s elite.
On the sixth day of the sixth week, the Admiral received orders to immediately fly to Coronado, California, in order to assume command of Carrier Division Nine Battle Group. He left the next day. Clara was left behind to pack up all of their belongings and have them shipped along with the rest of the family to their new home, wherever that might be. For military families, this is commonplace. They learn instincts similar to those of a nomadic tribe which can pack up its tents in the night, and leave no trace of their presence by next morning.
The three of us flew on ahead to stay in San Diego, California with the Morrisons’ lifelong friend, Commander Andy Richards. Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood were all just a two-hour ride away. The Graham tribe set off to find Anne’s once-disappeared and now-rediscovered older brother, Jim Morrison of the Doors, renting a car and heading off for the megalopolis — Los Angeles. On the way, I stopped to call information for the listing of Elektra Records in West Hollywood. I then called the recording company, telling them who I was in relation to their hottest artist, and that I wanted to contact Jim. They gave me the Doors’ office number.
I called and repeated the request. The receptionist, after a shell shocked, ten-second silence, said, “Could you repeat that, please?”
She informed me that Jim was returning from a big concert in Texas and that he would be on the eleven a.m. flight from Houston to LAX. The Graham tribe arrived at 10:50. The following is a true life account of that meeting.
When Jim Morrison stepped off a jet at LAX in the summer of 1968, he was wearing an original World War II bomber jacket. Followed by bandmates Manzarek, Krieger, then Densmore, he sauntered through the terminal carrying an antique but cool- looking leather briefcase filled with his notebooks and pages of poetry and songs.
The Lizard King was wearing naval aviator glasses and black leather cowboy boots, which rendered him utterly ridiculous and ultra-cool in the same instant. Jim was ultra-cool to any teenager back then, but equally repulsive to people like Art Linkletter, the famous television pitchman, who also happened to be in the airport that day. Linkletter had a colossal hatred for all druggies or radicals, who were considered by the elder generation to be morally bankrupt. He was estranged from his eldest daughter, Dianne, who had joined the ranks of acid dropping teens and was out of her father’s control, just like Jim Morrison was.
As Jim strode along, Linkletter had crossed directly in front of him, causing him to stop abruptly so as not to be bowled over by the obvious disdain the pitchman harbored for all things hippie. Morrison watched as the rude, angry personality elbowed his way through the crowd. Jim adjusted his military/hippie outfit and said out loud but to no one in particular, that was Art Linkletter. What an asshole. Ahh, never mind. I never liked him anyway.”
The very next year, Dianne Linkletter jumped to her death from her sixth floor apartment. Linkletter immediately blamed The Beatles for turning her onto LSD through their evil music.
Morrison grabbed his bag from the luggage carousel. As he turned to leave the terminal, a young woman with a babe in arms approached him saying, “Hi, Jim.” Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore kept on walking, having witnessed this same ritual a thousand times before. A young fan would spot the group and would come over to meet Jim. Often the others would be ignored or thought of as secondary because Jim loomed larger than the mere Doors. He was a Rock God-Idol and the others were his assistants, or so it seemed to millions of star struck teenage girls all over the world who would, and often did, throw their knickers at him and would have made love to him on the spot in front of God and all.
Morrison slowly put down his briefcase and was poised to sign another autograph, right? Not so. Not this time. Even though this beautiful young woman with long flowing hair and an adoring smile had presented herself before Jim, she was not offering him her autograph book. Instead, she was offering her baby for him to hold.
Jim Morrison had never autographed a baby before and he certainly had not held one recently, if ever. He was utterly flummoxed. He took off his sunglasses and blinked twice still
wondering why there was no pen or the usual autograph request. He looked again at the baby, then at the woman, blinking again and again and again.
The Doors were now looking back to see if this woman was showing Jim Morrison the result of yet another romantic liaison from a one-night stand she and he had engaged in. Was she now demanding child support? In fact, this very same thought was starting to seep into Jim’s own mind. The Doors decided that they would keep on ahead after all. As they left, they saw Jim holding the baby in his arms looking very confused. Jim looked at them helplessly as Ray, Robby, and John, disappeared like snow in August.
Jim’s eyes slowly returned to the woman, studying her face closely, and then, gingerly offering, “You wouldn’t happen to be my sister, would you?”
Anne smiled from ear to ear. Speaking in an excited gush, she blurted out, “Yes, I am and say hello to your nephew. His name is Dylan Stephen and this is my husband, Alan.”
Jim looked at the three of us for a long time. He had not seen Anne since disappearing three years earlier. Jim Morrison, Rock-God-Idol, was speechless. Now the very same reality he
had abruptly abandoned when he decided to erase all connections with his family was standing before him, in the form of his sister as a married woman with a child whom she had just physically thrust into her brother’s arms.
We all stood looking at each other. We were in L’America: Los Angeles — Hollywood, California – in the airport with Jim Morrison in the summer of 1968, just before all hell broke loose and the whole shit house went up in flames. After what seemed an eternity, Jim shifted the baby to his hip and it was as if he had never been away from his sister at all. As he marched proudly through the terminal, he said, “Come on. I want you to meet everyone.”
We drove from the airport on a glorious summer day. Jim sat up front talking excitedly to Anne as if she was the one who had disappeared and he was trying to catch up on the news of her life. He never once mentioned his father or mother during the conversation, but focused instead on his sister and his little brother, Andy, and their lives. It was as if he needed several missing pieces to complete the psycho-emotional jigsaw puzzle.