After the party, I got good reports of Jim's visit. Billy said that Jim had stopped in to see him, they'd chatted amiably awhile, and then Billy got back to clack-clack. All very pleasant, he said.
There had been very little opportunity for the Doors' audiences to hear the new material live, as it had only been performed in concert twice. After Miami, their entire concert schedule was scrapped. Promoters were cautiously booking them by the end of the year, and their second concert in New Orleans in December 1970 marked the end of the Doors. Jim appeared to suffer some sort of breakdown, picking up the microphone stand and pounding it repeatedly into the stage floor, before sitting down and refusing to continue the show. Whatever wild spirit had possessed Jim Morrison, it fled that night into the bayou darkness and was gone forever. Jim got stupendously drunk after the show. There were no more concerts from then on.
Love Her Madly was picked as the first single from the album, wisely so as it mirrored the poppy sound of the Doors, and written by Robby Krieger, who had also come up with Light My Fire, at the beginning of the Doors' career.
Although Love Her Madly did well at AM radio, and the music community in general didn't seem phased by Jim's departure for Paris, which was treated in a low-key way, i.e. going on a sabbatical, etc., it was San Francisco, specifically KSAN-FM, who picked the next single - Riders On The Storm. The jocks had taken to playing the long version and the phones began ringing off the hook. Our local promotion guy in San Francisco, Jeff Trager, was adamant that this should be the next single, called everyone at Elektra who could make such decisions. The long instrumental was edited to a more manageable 4 minutes or so and it was released.
Word from Paris was non-existent, in itself a good thing. One always assumes that no news is good news. I saw plenty of Bill Siddons, who was constantly checking on the progress of the album. I don't know that I even asked him how Jim was, and he didn't say. I think we all wished that he was finding the happiness that seemed to always elude him, and that things would turn out all right in the end, but of course that wasn't to be.
However, if I hadn't heard one more time from Jim, I would've ended all this at Part Five.
Fast forward to the July 4 weekend, which fell on a Sunday that year, 1971. Accordingly, we got the Monday off and the office was closed until Tuesday, July 6. I was one of the first there that morning. The office I shared also housed the TWX machine, which we used to communicate various Elektra offices, also WEA, and anyone else we did business with who owned one. A precursor to email, this rattling, chattering beast of a machine was used to type short messages and receive same, sometimes in real time, so you could communicate with the operator at the other end. When unattended, it spat out telegram-type missives, in duplicate. Because it was an expensive thing to use, one tended to keep things pretty short and to the point. I was used to coming in in the morning and finding various advisories which had to be distributed to the intended recipients.
I noticed something had come in over the weekend, which was unusual, considering it was a national holiday. A brief two lines, "Regret to inform that Jim Morrison died July 3 in Paris. (signed) Bill Siddons." It appeared to originate from Clive Selwood at our London office.
And that was that. Last word from Jim.
I took the telex and went out into the hall, where I encountered Russ Miller, head of West Coast operations at that time, opening his office door. I handed him the telex without a word. Besides saying something along the lines of "oh, shit!" Russ told me to keep it quiet as far as any announcements to outside sources and that he would contact Jac immediately. In the distance, I could hear the phone ringing at my desk, and noticed that the switchboard was open. One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy --- . Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.
I believe what ultimately destroyed Jim was fame and his own demons. He had everything it took to succeed, smart, beautiful, talented. He dared the hot spotlight that annihilates every fascinated moth. But, the question remains, is it better to burn out or to escape into the safe cool darkness to regret what might have been?