On September 20, 1970, James Douglas “Jim” Morrison, lead singer for The Doors, was found guilty of two misdemeanors—open profanity and indecent exposure—in the case of the State of Florida vs. James Morrison. The trial focused on the events of the night of March 1, 1969, at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami. That night, Morrison’s performance quickly degenerated into a profane mixture of ranting and baiting the audience. Morrison allegedly exposed himself to the audience, although witness accounts differ about what exactly happened. Amidst rising public furor, the city of Miami issued a warrant for Morrison’s arrest on March 5, 1969; he was charged with one felony and five misdemeanors.
The backlash against the Doors was both strong and fast. Concerts were cancelled, radio stations stopped playing Doors records, and Morrison’s relationship with the press deteriorated. When the trial began in August 1970, the odds were stacked against Morrison’s acquittal. The jury consisted of six people over the age of 42, hardly peers to the 27 year-old hedonist and rock star. The judge refused to admit evidence about Miami’s community standards, undermining Morrison’s defense argument that his actions were not obscene given Miami’s liberal community standards.
Under the two convictions, Morrison was sentenced to six months and 60 days and $500. He died on July 3, 1971, while living in Paris while in the process of appealing the charges. He had yet to serve any prison time in connection with the charges.
Court Documents, State of Florida vs. James Morrison. Retrieved from http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/jimdoors1.html.
Meltzer, Matt. The Miami Incident: The Beginning of the End for The Doors. Retrieved from http://www.miamibeach411.com/news/index.php?/news/comments/the-doors/.
Preston, Janelle. New Evidence in the Miami Incident. Retrieved from http://www.doors.com/miami/truth.html.