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BOOK REVIEW: Love Becomes A Funeral Pyre by Mick Wall

| 4 June 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Love Becomes A Funeral Pyre by Mick Wall
Hatchette Australia, October 2014, $32.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Love Becomes A Funeral Pyre by Mick Wall - cover

Think you know all there is to know about self-styled shaman Jim Morrison and The Doors? Think again!

Mick Wall has dug deeper down the rabbit hole than anyone ever dared before, exposing the lies inherent in the myth perpetuated by the other members of The Doors and their management, and that propagated by Oliver Stone’s eulogising bio-movie of 1991. Along the way he interviews hundreds of key and bit players, uncovering damaged souls, dark entreaties, forbidden desires, corrupt business deals and, above all, the shocking self-destructionism of their frontman.

Forever remembered as the ‘young lion’ portrayed in Joel Brodsky’s iconic 1967 photographs, stories of Morrison’s self-sabotaging, alcoholism and seeming death wish have been sugar-coated and placed on a pedestal by generations of fans who believe the glorious myth that the intellectual poet was on a scientific and euphoric mission to unlock the universe’s secrets through chemical means and ‘break on through’ the ‘doors of perception’.

Wall paints a very different picture: that of a spoiled and selfish man who used his superior knowledge to justify the very worst behaviour. The Morrison in this book has a taste for young men almost as much as women, treats those who offer kindness with the worst abuse, and those he loved the most with the worst degradation. He has no regard for those around him – their happiness, welfare, career, nothing.

Wall presents a believable case, backed up by many witnesses, from girlfriends and drinking buddies, record company cohorts and journalists. It’s a seedy tale made more shocking because in the past we thought his death wish alcoholism was fuelled by passion. Here it is fuelled by hatred – of himself and of everything around him which could be good.

Love Becomes A Funeral Pyre is a riveting read, though not always a pleasant one. Confronting and at times bludgeoning in its details of Morrison’s alleged treatment of himself and others, Wall paints a bleak picture of a man who refused every attempt to help him, to the point that everyone around him stopped trying.

Wall is critical of many in The Doors organisation, not least Ray Manzarek for perpetuating the fantasy memory of Morrison, but his biggest contempt is reserved for Danny Sugarman, who barely rates a mention in The Doors’ story apart from off the back of the No-One Gets Out Alive book he co-wrote with Jerry Hopkins. Wall contends that although Sugarman passed himself off as an insider to The Doors world, he barely saw through a crack in the door, and that the book was a prime culprit in the aforementioned invention of the myth of Jim Morrison.

Category: Book Reviews

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