The day of the party dawned bright and clear, and by late afternoon Nina Holzman, (Jac's wife and mother of his two children, Jacqueline and Adam, aka Nipper), who was in charge of catering and organizing the shebang, had most of the administrative staff, including myself, running hither and thither, getting ready for the guests, who would start arriving after 5, the beginning of the end of the working day. The party was more for radio, sales, WEA types, managers, etc., and not necessarily for the artists.
The majority of the Elektra New York honchos had also arrived, and while some, like Bill Harvey, our art director and General Manager, had headed into various offices and were busy working behind closed doors, Steve Harris, national artist relations, and Bruce Harris, national publicity, were hanging about the hallway.
Finally, as 5:00 approached, they decamped to the front steps, outside the double doors, now open to the street. Both of them were dressed in black, and they looked like a couple of crows bobbing and bowing in the bright California sunshine, smoking, and watching the cars go by on La Cienega. As I crossed the hall with a platter of some gustatory delight or other, I saw them gesturing in the general direction of the Clear Thoughts building across the street - where Themis was located - and seeming somewhat amused. They beckoned me over.
"Morrison is watching from that window," says Steve, indicating with a jerk of the head the round window on the second floor. Jim had an editing bay in the building, in the office next to the round window, where he had been working on his film, HWY. "Really?" I had a look, but couldn't tell if there was anyone there at all, as the big circular opening was screened with whorls of wrought iron. "Yes, really. Go over and ask him to the party." "Why me? Why don't you go?" "Well, you two are friends, aren't you?" Smirk. "Who says?" More smirking. So much for thinking that my friendship with Jim was relatively unknown. To avoid any more nonsense and smirks, I put the platter of whatever it was down and legged it across La Cienega, up the stairs to the landing, and found Jim sitting on the window seat, indeed spying on the comings and goings across the street.
Me, "Hey." "Hey. What's going on over there?" Jim was also dressed all in black, still bearded but looking sober and thoughtful. "It's a party for the opening of the building. They want you to come over." "Will you be there?" "Of course, it'll be fine." We could see Steve and Bruce, still fidgeting on the steps like a couple of antic ravens in the slowly-setting sun. Jim slid off the window seat, and we clattered down the stairs and out onto La Cienega. "They're not mad at me about Miami, are they?" There it was, first and only time he'd ever mentioned it. "Not as far as I know." True enough. Nobody had mentioned it to me. Sue Helms had a framed photo of Jim with the lamb above her desk, which I believe he had given her. That was all the Miami there was around the office.
Once we got into the hall, after Jim had been thoroughly welcomed by Steve and Bruce, Bill Harvey appeared from the conference room like a cuckoo from a clock, and greeted Jim like a prodigal son. They disappeared back into the conference room, and very soon thereafter the first guests started to pour in through the doors.
I traveled down the hallway to my office, and stuck my head around the door of Billy James' office also at the back of the building. Billy was responsible for initially signing the Doors to Columbia, and was now on his second tour at Elektra, this time working in publicity. I didn't know if he'd had a chance to see Jim at all, certainly since the Miami thing.
He was securely hidden in his nook behind a studio baffle, doing something on his Remington typewriter - clack, clack, clack. "Party's starting. Jim's here." "Mm." Clack, clack. "I thought I would let him know you were here. He might want to say hello. Okay?" "Sure." Clack, clack, clack. Very unlikely that the party would flow in this direction, it looked like a good place to hide out. Clack, clack.
Doing my round of goodbyes, I found Jim, sitting at a long table in an almost-empty room just off the new Studio A, where the food had been set up. He and Babe Hill were chatting idly, picking at the remains of guacamole and chips. Otherwise, the room was empty, as the food was all gone. Jim was a good deal more sober than the majority of the party-goers. I didn't see any alcohol anywhere. The atmosphere was very low-key. I made my farewells and headed out. It was the last time I would see him. He left for Paris a few days later.
Photos: 962 N. La Cienega, present day. No second floor when we opened; Steve Harris, far left, the Doors, Jac Holzman peeping out behind Robby, looks like the Doors won some sort of award, circa 1966; Jim and the lamb at Miami; Billy James, far left, the Doors, Steve Harris once more, and Paul Rothchild - lunch at the Villa Capri, celebrating the release of Light My Fire; Jim in late 1970, doing some editing on a Circus Magazine interview.
PART SIX, NEXT THURSDAY!