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History Corner Archives: The Doors Lead Singer Jim Morrison Lived in Old Mountain View

By Lisa Windes and Bruce Karney

(Originally published in the April, 2000 OMVNA Newsletter.)

Forty years ago, Jim Morrison was one of the most famous (or notorious) rock and rollers in the world. But sixty years ago, he was just a little boy living in a rented house in our neighborhood. He was just “one of the gang” of boys and girls living here between WWII and the Korean War in what was then a town full of orchards.

Jim’s father Steve was a naval officer stationed at Moffett Field during the late 40′s and early 50′s. He and his wife Clara moved their young family to Old Mountain View and rented a house at 476 Yosemite Avenue. Jim lived here from approximately age 5 to 7.

During the post-war years, the neighborhood housed many Navy personnel and their families. It seemed as if every house had two or three kids. Longtime Mountain View resident Tom Chambliss lived a couple of doors away from the Morrisons and was a playmate of Jim’s.

Tom describes Jim as “a regu-lar kid” who participated in a wide spectrum of neighborhood activities. The big things in the neighborhood then were building tree houses, running lemonade stands, and playing baseball in the vacant lot at Bush and Yosemite (which remains one of the last vacant lots in the neighborhood). Tom says that “Jim was a lemon-ade stand guy.”

Jim attended elementary school at the old Highway School located at the corner of Calderon and El Camino Real, now the site of Two Worlds. The Morrison family moved to Los Altos in the early 50′s but after only six months, Steve Morrison was transferred out of the area to an-other naval base. He advanced rapidly through the grades in the Navy and in 1967, at age 47, was promoted to Rear Admiral — the same year his son’s group released its first album and the song “Light My Fire” went to the top of the charts.

The Doors retain an almost mythological status among its many admirers even thirty years later. Their unique sound centered around the Jim’s dark, surreal poetry and vocals, the baseline organ of classically-trained key-boardist Ray Manzarek, and the improvisational jazz styles of Robbie Krieger on guitar and John Densmore on drums. In concert, Jim gave powerful theatrical performances that drew ever-larger audiences, but also caused considerable controversy over the moral content of the act.

Jim recorded six studio albums and one live album with The Doors before moving to Paris in 1971 to work on his poetry. He died on July 3, 1971 and is buried in the Poet’s Corner of the Père Lachaise Cemetery. The Doors entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the 50th anniversary of Jim’s birth.

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