Strange Tales of Jim Morrison, Part Three
By: Zack Kopp
In which your reporter was graced with an audience by email and Skype a few years ago with the esteemed Alan Graham, former agent provocateur of Larry Flynt, and benefited from renewed contact with that worthy, brother in law of Jim Morrison and faithful defender of his good name against a sensationalistic media.
His Brother’s Keeper
Over the last fifty-eight or so years, expatriate Englishman Alan Graham, who now lives in the San Diego area, had first-hand experience of a number of pop-cultural hot-points—he witnessed the Beatles’ hometown heyday via their lunchtime sessions at the Cavern Club on Matthew Street in Liverpool, England; became brother in law to American poet and rock and roll superstar Jim Morrison of the Doors; served as assistant and spokesman for Hustler publisher Larry Flynt; was falsely accused of making a bomb threat against former U.S. president Ronald Reagan—and those are only the standouts. Graham was lucky or fated bystander to multiple noteworthy people and events in the latter portion of the 20th century. For the record, Mr. Graham has categorically denied all of Floyd Bocox’s allegations. After I finished the first draft of this article, I reestablished contact with the esteemed Mr. Graham, living witness of multiple cultural flashpoints in the onngoing war between freedom and control, living icon of a strain in recent United States history which, in this reporter’s opinion, has yet to be properly esteemed in the public record.
After moving to London, where his brother, John, was managing the rock group Johnny Kidd and the Pirates (of “Shakin’ All Over” and “I’ll Never Get Over You” fame), Graham met his American girlfriend, Anne Morrison, daughter of a career Navy man, Admiral George Stephen Morrison. Graham married Anne in 1967, which was being touted in newspapers as the “summer of love,” and shortly after they married, Anne’s brother, Jim, became incredibly famous as the vocalist and frontman for a rock group based in Los Angeles called the Doors well known for its provocative anthems about breaking through to the other side and getting higher. Jim was touted in the press as an “erotic politician.” Contrary to this volatile, dangerous image, the Jim Morrison Alan Graham knew and loved was his friend, his wife’s brother, and the son of her family. All his recollections of Jim are colored by this affinity, even those concerning Jim’s penchant to upset his own apple cart periodically. “On Thanksgiving morning, 1969, Anne, [Jim’s brother] Andy, and I drove from Coronado to Jim’s house in the Hollywood hills. We brought a big cooked turkey and spent the day visiting with Jim and his ‘girlfriend,’ Pam Courson, until a simmering feud from the night before suddenly erupted into a knockdown, drag out fight. In the movie, The Doors, Oliver Stone cut and pasted that scene from my manuscript with another piece of mine entitled The Japanese Restaurant.”
When Jim died young of apparent heart failure in 1971, after the conclusion of his trial for indecent exposure while onstage in Miami and the completion of what turned out to be the last Doors album, L.A. Woman, rumors appeared in the mainstream press that he had faked his death, something he’d reportedly spoken of wanting to do in the past. Graham agrees this is possible, if unlikely. “In this day and age, I don’t know . . . The only person who knows is Pamela Courson (who died of a drug overdose in 1974). Don’t forget the body was put on ice overnight. The morgues were closed. It was left on Saturday and Sunday night till Monday morning and his body was really blue. She never saw it. Nobody saw that body till it came from the morgue in the coffin, ready for the funeral. Pamela wouldn’t look at it. Nobody looked at it. The likelihood that it could’ve been somebody else is extremely high and Morrison could’ve seen it and went into hiding and said this is my chance to get away from . . . his life and the people around him.”
At the time we first spoke, Graham had no patience for things like the “Jim Morrison’s baby scam” being perpetrated by Lorraine Widen and her son, soundalike Cliff Morrison who refuses to consent to a DNA test to prove Jim’s paternity, supposedly because he’d rather “let people decide for themselves,” nor the ongoing exposure of fraudulence conducted by Cliff’s former manager Floyd Bocox—but without any feeling of malice or offense, both of these derivative outgrowths are simply beneath his notice. “You know I heard Cliff’s actually come to believe the whole fantasy now. To him it’s not even a scam anymore, but for her, it’s the worst possible form of child abuse.” Graham hosts a podcast called “House of Detention” on the Ghost Radio Network, and his Ghost Radio International Paranormal Investigation Team (GRIPIT) regularly tracks down and investigates opportunists claiming to be the real Jim Morrison or his son or his daughter. Notably, Doors guitarist Robby Krieger’s son, Waylon, has played bass and guitar in Cliff Morrison’s Lizard Sun band as well as supporting his father (the author of “Light My Fire”) on guitar and vocals at several tribute appearances.
Cliff and his mother, Lorraine Widen, who claims to have had an affair with Jim, are by no means alone in their attempt to assert a connection with Morrison after formal declaration of his death. Every identifiable aspect of a rock star like Jim Morrison is parceled out and marketed as a signature trait for the fans’ efficient consumption, and after Jim dies or disappears, anything can happen to the image he left in the world. Oregon rodeo website owner Gerald Pitts claims to be Jim Morrison’s agent. He even claims to have convinced former Doors Robby Krieger and John Densmore that his “client” (a rancher named Jim Loyer, owner of the Jim Morrison Sanctuary Rach, who has long since denied any connection with Gerald Pitts) is Morrison, and to have almost arranged a Doors reunion, only to have been prevented by evil genius Ray Manzarek, who “want(s) to see Jim personally and Jim will not tolerate it. He wants to work through his agent. So, when that game started, I knew there was no use for him to come over here because if he came over to meet with me, he’d want to go up and talk to Jim on his own and I’d be left out of the project.” (In other words, demand proof and the deal’s off).
British author David Icke, who believes the world to be controlled by extraterrestrial reptilians disguised as kings and queens and presidents, has proposed Jim was an experimental individual in the service of these reptile overlords, since Morrison wrote a few songs about lizards. Once you get fame in America, the purpose is feeding the fame. Personal truths can be toys in the hands of a self-devouring cannibal like that. Jim’s immediate relatives, the likeliest authorities on who he really was, have remained aloof from biographical representations of their deceased loved one because they feel themselves bound by a military code of privacy and decency, and as a result, have generally been excluded from the manipulation of Jim’s image since his departure from the public eye. As evidenced by the role he played as consultant in the making of Oliver Stone’s film, The Doors, Alan Graham has been steadfast in his efforts as the “odd man in” to redeem Jim Morrison’s image. In addition to co-producing with Anne a four-phase documentary project about Jim called Poeté Somnolant “Sleeping Poet” (Sylvester Stallone and John Travolta both vied unsuccessfully for the starring role), Graham has written a book called I Remember Jim Morrison intended to include the humanizing element noticeably absent from bestselling portrayals of Jim like the one in Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman’s No One Here gets Out Alive, and counteract all the attempts to sensationalize the dark side of Jim’s image as rock god dead by misadventure.
Graham’s wild years outlived dear lost brother Jim. During Hustler publisher Larry Flynt’s fifteen minutes of infamy in the 1980s Graham served as Flynt’s assistant, his unspecified job to provide a kind of buffer zone between Flynt and the general public during a time when the outlaw publisher felt especially sensitive. Flynt said he felt his stay at the U.S. Medical Centre For Prisoners for contempt of court and desecration of the U.S. flag was “cruel and unusual punishment,” since he was not receiving adequate medication and food (he had refused prison food after reportedly surviving a poisoning attempt, and was striking for better conditions). At the time, it was Graham’s assignment to make a statement to the press, and he told them, “Someone in the kitchen informed him that [the food] was tainted, and he refused it.” Next Flynt stated, in an impromptu jailhouse phone interview with CNN, “I have confessed to putting a contract out on President Reagan’s life—I want to kill him,” adding, “I have threatened to kill both federal judges who have sentenced me . . . I’ve threatened to kill at least a half dozen employees at the prison in Butler. I just got 152 days in the hole for hitting a priest between the eyes with an orange.”
Graham prevented Flynt from carrying out any of his wild threats, and further, he kept the many different species of predators away such as con men, ex-military now-mercenary operatives, hookers, hit men, hustlers, liars, thieves, lawyers, mental cases, and all manner of misfits away. Eventually he was examined by a psychiatrist, who deemed him incompetent; and as a consequence, a conservatorship petition was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming the publisher suffered from a mental illness “consistent only with an irrational drive to destroy or lose all his holdings” and that he had “drained the company of millions of dollars in cash for bizarre and imprudent personal expenditures.” Somewhere in all this uproar, two former security guards of Flynt’s told federal authorities they believed Graham was “behind the bombings” presumably referring to the bomb threat against Reagan, which he successfully dismissed as a fantastic story, though it provided a convenient hook for Bocox’s statement in an interview years later that Graham was “known for making bomb threats.”
Alan was consulted during the creation of Milos Forman’s film, The People vs. Larry Flynt, concerning Flynt’s much-publicized mental breakdown in 1984, one result of which was his spontaneous contrariness in court on Flynt’s part to stump. This served to flummox the jury in his trial for slandering Jerry Falwell, during which period Graham served as his aide under the codename, “Captain Pink.” As can be seen in the transcript of Flynt’s deposition, his own behavior seems more that of the crafty antagonist than an addled bumbler, while leaving ample room for potential disqualification as testimony due to certain anomalies. Says Graham, “I thought that the movie told the story very well from a chronological standpoint but missed many of details of the real story. A reporter asked [Larry] why Captain Pink aka Alan Graham was not in the movie and he said (with a smile, “I didn’t know how to explain him” What he meant was I would show things that might detract from his slightly sanatized version of what went down, and the ‘Adventures of Captain’ was a story all to itself.”
And it’s a story only he can tell, currently languishing in Google docs of old newspaper clippings from Springfield, MO., where much of the action took place, and other parts of the US landscape, where Alan Graham ended up after his rocket ride from the Beatles birthplace through the heart of Los Angeles and the myth of the American night with Lizard King Jim Morrison to the self-made Nebuchadnezar of sleaze and free speech, Larry Flynt. Mister Graham is uniquely positioned as a living case history of the evolution of organic expression in media and culture over the last sixty years in American culture, a process which, in this reporter’s opinion, has not yet been properly charted. Captain Pink is hard at work. He is currently hard at a memoir about his madcap career under Flynt subsequent to his recovery from cruel treatment of him and his wife by a greedy robber baron, about which unconscionable state of affairs he’s filming a documentary for eventual dissemination as a reality show, and written an article called “The Asshole Of The Century,” referring to said robber-baron, which will precede the documentary/reality show’s release. Alan and Anne were divorced in 1986, but his time as James Douglas Morrison’s brother in law has obviously left an indelible impression on Graham despite the years he spent as aide and mouthpiece for the erratic, colorful Flynt after Jim’s passing. Graham has always been bothered by the grossly inadequate portrait of Jim Morrison that has been growing in the public eye all these years. Says his sister, Norma, “After reading each and every book, I would call Alan and ask him, ’Is this true or fiction?’ His reply would always be the same. ‘Norma it is lies, all lies. Nobody outside the Morrison family ever knew the real Jim. One day when the time is right, I am going to write my own book and tell it like it really was, who the real Jim Morrison was’. Like a mantra he would repeat, ‘One day when the time is right I will tell it like it really was’.”
With the Admiral’s death in 2008, the time was finally right. Graham’s I Remember Jim Morrison stands forth as the only retrospective on Jim Morrison with a tangible core of emotional obligation to its subject. Where other biographers are moved to turn Jim’s story into a train wreck and charge admission, Alan Graham’s inspiration is to commemorate the emotional effect of their time together. “More than forty books have been published about him, and each one reveals nothing more than the last. The reason for this is because no one in the Morrison clan has ever revealed the true details (nor will they ever) about Jim’s life inside the family. My personal account of these events provides rare glimpses and intimate insights into the other side of Jim Morrison and the people who loved him.” Graham’s book is highly recommended, as is the subsequently released Before the Beatles were Famous, detailing his years around the corner from ground zero of the beginning of the Beatles’ worldwide breakout, at the Cavern Club, on Matthew Street in Liverpool. Certain persons are fated as witnesses to certain events, friends and family of certain culturally impactive people, and participants in certain feelings, which are singular unto their times while being noteworthy in timeless fashion. After playing witness to the Beatles and the Doors, Alan Graham manifested his own manic jester persona to culminate his personal expression of the time in his years as Larry Flynt’s attache. This reporter was fortunate enough to witness a glimpse of this opus in progress entitled “Larry Flynt and the Lizard King” (Flynt’s drug-addicted ex-wife Althea was a known Doors obsessive; the chapter concerns Althea’s efforts to produce Graham and his first wife Anna’s play, “Morrison: A Rock Opera” for the big screen), surely only a taste of what’s to come, besides the gems already published. Keep