Circus Magazine – The Jim Morrison Interview with Sali Stevenson

Sitting, watching and waiting for a possible doom factor to happen with no way to halt it is a gut wrenching, nerve racking experience. Then the waiting was over, Jim Morrison faced Judge Murray Goodman in Miami.
“You are a person graced with a talent, admired by many of your peers. Man tends to imitate that which he admires and those gifted with the ability to lead and influence other should strive to bring out the best, and not the worst in his admirers.” With that speech, Judge Goodman meted out the sentence for profanity and indecent exposure. Jim received six months, almost the maximum, and his bail was raised from $5,000 to $50,000. He is appealing the charge, which could take up to three years, and if successful, it is certain that he will have to serve no time at all. If the appeal frails he will probably serve a maximum of two months.

“I was quite relieved that I wasn’t taken into the jail and booked. They could have done it easily. I feel quite free for the first time in a year and a half. We’re going to fight the sentence until it is wiped clean off the records. The appeal motion will first have to go to the circuit court in Florida and if it doesn’t pass muster there, it will go to the state court and eventually to the Supreme Court. If they accept it there will be a final decision then.

Q: On what factors is the appeal to be based?
Morrison: The judge’s attitude seemed to be that he was trying to prosecute me to the limits of the law. That will be one of our appeals, that I didn’t really receive a fair trial because of judicial prejudice. For example, he limited the defense witnesses to the exact number that the prosecution had and he would allow no evidence regarding the contemporary community standards as, for example, taking the jury to see Woodstock and Hair and other current movies and plays that were showing in Miami at the time. These were two examples of his rigidity and lack of fairness in our opinion. The big charge, which was indecent exposure, was not conclusively proven in six weeks of testimony. There were ten to twelve thousand people there at the performance and countless cameras. The prosecution was not able to come up with even one picture, one photograph of exposure.
Q: I understand that you attorney made a direct appeal for mercy to the bench at your sentence date. What was it and in your opinion did the judge take that into consideration? 
 Morrison: Max stated that he’d known me for four or five years and that he knew me to be a good man who had contributed some important works to society and most likely would continue to contribute. He stated that the mode of expression used to communicate the thoughts that I had at Miami, was common in todays context and that it wasn’t of evil intent. As to the other charge there was no proof. But, it seemed that the judge had already decided what he was going to do. His mind was made up prior to Max’s bench appeal.
Q: What was the state of mind you had that got you into this whole Miami mess in the first place? 
 Morrison: I think I was just fed up with the image that had been created around me, which I sometimes consciously, most of the time unconsciously cooperated with. It just got too much for me to really stomach and so I just put and end to it in one glorious evening. I guess what it boiled down to was that I told the audience that they were a bunch of fucking idiots to be members of an audience. What were they doing there anyway. The basic message was… realize that you’re not really here to listen to a bunch of songs by some fairly good musicians. You’re here for something else. Why not admit it and do something about it. 
 Q: You did the Isle of Wight…
Morrison: That was during the trial. I flew over from Miami, arrived in London and drove to a little airport, took a small plane to the Isle of Wight and then we drove right to the concert. By the time I went on, I don’t think I’d had any sleep in 36 hours. I wasn’t really quite at my best… my peak of physical condition. I don’t think it would have mattered that much anyway. The performance during that period would probably have been about the same anyway.
Q: What about the mildly negative attitudes of the British newspapers? 
 Morrison: Let’s put it this way. We were not the highlight of the festivities. We weren’t shitty by any means. Everyone sat there and listened and applauded like an audience is suppose to do.
Q: What will happen to the group should you end up serving a sentence?
 Morrison: You would have to ask them, but I would hope that since all three of them are excellent musicians, they would go on and create an instrumental sound of their own that didn’t depend on lyrics. Until then, we have another album to do. We’ll be rehearsing and starting to do that album. Then films have always fascinated me and I’ll get into that as quickly as possible and I have another book I want to write.
Q: Will you eve write one about the trial? 
 Morrison: Maybe ill write the story of that someday. It might make a good journalistic exercise. One thing that came out of the trial was that I had a chance to get out of L.A. for an extended period of time for the first time in five years. Florida’s a beautiful place – unpolluted more or less. I even had a chance to go down to Nassau and learned how to scuba dive.
Q: I read somewhere that you and the rest of the group own an island down there. 
 Morrison: No, I wish I did because the Caribbean is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. The water is perfectly clear and the sand is pure white. The sand out here is brownish in hue and you can see multi-colored grains, but the sand down there is pure white. It looks like white shells, seashells that were ground up very finely. I wish I did own an island down there. They still have land for sale…
Kurt: They have hurricanes too, don’t they? 
Morrison: Yes, it keeps you close to nature. There’s a guaranteed calamity every year.
Q: Calamities… what about the police?
Morrison: Police are different in ever town and country. Some of the greatest police, unless you get on the wrong side of them, are the English bobbies. They seem to be very civil, gentlemanly kind of cats. The cops in L.A. are different from the cops in most towns. They are idealists and they are almost fanatical in believing in the rightness of their cause. They have a whole philosophy behind their tyranny. In most places the police are doing a job, but in L.A. I’ve noticed real sense of righteousness about what they are doing which is scary. On the road they’re not bad. I was busted once in New Haven, Connecticut. When you are travelling with a band they usually give you hassles, but we’re a pretty sedate group, no dopers or sex maniacs or anything like that. So, we have not really run up against too much harassment. Usually when I go to a strange town, I just stay in the hotel and look out the window anyway.
Q: There have been a lot of different things happening in America. What do you think the outcome for the country will be with the climate as it is now? 
 Morrison: I think that whatever happens, America is the arena right now. It’s the center of action and it will take strong, fluid people to survive in a climate like ours. I’m sure people will do it but I think for many people, especially city dwellers, it’s presently a state of constant, total paranoia. As I understand, paranoia is an irrational fear. The problem is… what if the paranoia is real. Then, all you can do is cope with it second by second.
Salli Stevenson

Caption under photo 1, Page 1:

“I was fed up with the image that had been created around me.”

Caption under photo 2, Page 2 : 
“The cops in L.A. are different… they are idealists. (They) have a whole philosophy behind their tyranny.”