Doors history: Jim Morrison’s boorish, then better, behavior (part 3)


ed. note: Harvey Kubernik’s book, The Doors: Summer’s Gone (Otherworld Cottage Industries, 2018) includes the following chapter by arts·meme contributor Kirk Silsbee. Serialized on arts·meme in three parts. Enjoy!

London transplant Sally Stevens had never heard of The Lizard King when she took a waitress job at Thee Experience that summer. She had come to Hollywood to find work in the music industry and hoped the club would be her entrée. Brevetz showed her Morrison’s photo, and told her to be on the lookout for him. 

As a favor one night, Stevens filled in for a waitress whose little boy was sick. Delaney & Bonnie and Friends were the marquee attractions that Memorial Day weekend; drop-ins included Hendrix, Zappa, Steve Stills and Dave Mason. Stevens navigated past the bleachers with extra caution, as a loud group of drinkers were veering out of control. One bearded drunk kept moving his chair further into the aisle, complicating her movement. When her path was blocked entirely, she turned to retreat down the aisle. Her hair was grabbed from the back and Stevens was pulled violently down backwards onto the bearded bear’s lap, where he yelled, “Get me a beer, bitch!!” Shocked but thinking quickly, she jumped up and kicked her drunken assailant and his chair over. Then she crashed her tray on his nose for good measure.

She stormed into the kitchen and furiously slammed down her tray. Livid with rage, Stevens could take no more that night and she flung open the back door on her way to the tiny parking lot behind the club.

The next day she was informed that she was fired. She also learned for the first time that her shrouded antagonist was Jim Morrison.

Robert Hawkins was the doorman that night, and in 2009, he said of Jim: “He did that more than once,” adding, “and he only did it with girls. No one was shocked, no matter what he did. We were called to take care of unruly people but not a Jim Morrison. He and all the other stars that came in had free reign; they did whatever they wanted. It didn’t matter to Marshall. He kowtowed to all the stars.”

After her firing, Stevens found it hard to get a job, and she thought that Morrison had a hand in her difficulties. After six months, she ran into Doors producer Paul Rothschild at the Troubadour. He offered her a position at Elektra Records, assisting office manager Susan Helms.

One day at the switchboard, the night line connected to the studios lit up. When Sally answered, ‘Good afternoon, Elektra Records…’ a voice on the other end asked for her. When it identified itself as Jim Morrison, she thought it was a prank and promptly hung up. But the line rang back with the same plea: Jim Morrison to speak with Sally Stevens. When she asked for some personal information to verify, he said softly: “I got you fired at Thee Experience.” Contrite and sober, Jim said he’d been trying to find her for six months to apologize.

Stevens read him the riot act, but Morrison took his medicine. He was in a thoughtful mode, and they wound up spending an hour on the phone together. He would subsequently check in with her every few weeks to chat and they developed a casual phone relationship. Morrison knew he could get a straight answer from Sally if he was unsure about an aspect of his life and career. She recognized his intellect—head-and-shoulders over the average rocker–and told him that he was getting a little old for some of the rock star shenanigans he’d been indulging in. He agreed it was time for a change, and the subject of Paris came up.

On July 5, 1971, when the Telex communique came to the Elektra office that reported Jim Morrison’s death, Sally Stevens was the first to see it.

Kirk Silsbee publishes promiscuously on rock, jazz and the visual arts. He has been an arts·meme contributor for five years.

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Fran at the Ace: fresh, frank … fraught!

Fashion · Language & ideas

Of her many accolades and achievements, what we find most cool and enviable about essayist/raconteur Fran Lebowitz is Vanity Fair having named her as one of the most stylish women of the year. Obviously she looks good so she’ll fit right into Los Angeles, at her upcoming “Fran Lebowitz in Conversation” event presented by the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA). She also has a few ideas. That’s the New York part.

You can experience the innards of her brain tumbling forth in a verbal cascade — doesn’t that sound magical? — at the infinitely boss Theatre at the Ace Hotel. This talk-a-thon is one of the big-name 2018-19 season openers for CAP, the esteemed presentation series that this year will offer 14 shows at the Ace, a historic refurbished movie house in downtown Los Angeles. Lebowitz will parry and chatter with KCRW’s Matt Holzman whom we hope is up to the task. (Maybe practice with Warren Olney?)

We’re fans of the fran-ciful Lebowitz having read her two bestselling books of essays, Metropolitan Life (1978) and Social Studies (1981). We have seen her appear in numerous provocative documentaries including Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures (2016), Regarding Susan Sontag (2014), and Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol (1990). Lebowitz’s own Martin Scorsese-directed documentary, Public Speaking, premiered on HBO in 2010.

Her stature as a cultural critic and keen observer of human nature puts her in the league of a modern-day Dorothy Parker. This modern-day Sheila Graham looks forward to a lady-writer face-off at the Ace.

Fran Lebowitz in Conversation | The Theatre at Ace Hotel | Sun Sept 30

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Flourishing Los Angeles experimental dance scene of the ’80s recalled

ed. note: We hear much about the current vigor of Los Angeles dance. A guest writer, the visual artist Steve DeGroodt adds his historic perspective in this essay contributed to the blog. There is a vibrancy and presence that has been missing in the world of dance in Los Angeles for some time. What once ...



Message from Shepard: “Thanks for caring about climate change”

Visual arts
Obey Fire Sale. 18 x 24 inches. Screen print on cream Speckle Tone paper. Signed by Shepard Fairey. Numbered edition of 550. $55. Available Thursday, August 16, 10 am (PST) on in Store under Prints. Limit 1 per person/household. Artist’s Statement My “Obey” print is a comment on the challenges any individual faces pushing ...

The valleys are alive with the sound of gibberish, courtesy of artist Paul McCarthy

Dance · Film · Language & ideas · Music · Theater
Maria, pictured above and played by Julie Andrews in the syrupy Hollywood movie-musical, The Sound of Music (1965), delivers her iconic hilltop anthem, but in a bizarro version created by visual artist Paul McCarthy, her scale runs do ti la so fa mi re do. McCarthy created cisuM fo dnuoS ehT / The Sound of ...

Ford Theatre’s magical August dance-weekend adds intimacy

Architecture & Design · Dance · Featured
Unicorns and moonbeams! That magical stuff will spool at the Ford Amphitheatre when the beloved outdoor stage winds toward summer’s-end 2018. Lending unusual piquancy in a special dance-weekend are full-evening works by up-and-coming choreographers: Marjani Forté-Saunders (Aug 24, 25) and Stephanie Zaletel (Aug 26 only). To accommodate the intimate, experimental nature of these dance performances, ...

Makarova/Godunov triumph in Don Q. Watch and enjoy.

Both Russian-trained sensations. She of the Kirov, he of the Bolshoi. Both Soviet defectors. I never saw him dance in person. I saw her dance many times, with ABT. Note his one-armed lift (of her) at 0:53. Note her turns — every last one of them. Her turns breathe. See her (twice-executed) en dedans pirouette, ...

Bob Fosse, dancer, at UCLA Film & Television Archive

Dance · Featured · Film
We’re all familiar with Bob Fosse, choreographer, and Bob Fosse, film director, right? And if we aren’t, UCLA Film & Television Archive is giving us a great opportunity to catch up as it celebrates a key influencer of modern cinema in “Fosse, Fosse, Fosse!” Fosse was a rarity … he advanced from dancer to choreographer ...

Osipova in premiere as Isadora Duncan at Segerstrom

How will the California-born Isadora Duncan be remembered 50 years from now? As the woman whose barefoot, Greek-vase inspired abandon birthed the modern dance movement? Or for her shocking, free-love lifestyle in Europe and Russia and early tragic death – decapitated by scarf while riding in a Bugatti sports car? To the uninitiated, and by ...

Tarantino’s dream: the Pussycat meets the Bookshop 2

Architecture & Design · Film · Language & ideas
Women around the world are beside themselves with joy to see movie director Quentin Tarantino bring back the sleaze old days of the late sixties, when XXX-rated porn movies spooled at the bygone Pussycat Theatre. Admittedly, even I miss rolling by this colorful (ahem, it was the color purple) ediface of screaming architecture on the ...