The Miami Incident (March 1, 1969)
Bill Siddons, The Doors manager, was outraged when he arrived at the auditorium to take an accounting of the seating. Vince Treanor , the bands equipment manager, said the argument started right away. “When Siddons reminded the promoters that this wasn’t in the contract, the promoters said, ‘What are you gonna do about it?’ Bill threatened to take the equipment and leave and the promoter said, ‘You think you’re gonna take this equipment outta here? You’re gonna do this show.’ Here’s the band’s brand-new equipment and a hall full of shouting people and the promoter is holding a gun to our heads.” While Siddons and Collier were fighting over the deal, dozens of people without tickets were scaling the outside walls to climb in through the second-story windows, another thousand were jammed
against the entrances hoping to squeeze in. Temperatures were shooting upward, it was a hot night in Miami, even for March and the building had no air conditioning. People were scaling the walls to hang from the rafters, seeking desperately to make space and find relief from the heat. The hour was late and Morrison was still enroute, by this time some reports swore nearly thirteen thousand people were jammed into the hall.
When Jim finally arrived, it was obvious to everyone who knew him he was drunk, drunk beyond even Morrison standards. Jim was not a man to be reasoned with, even if his close associates hadn’t been faced with thirteen thousand angry reasons why he’d better get on the stage. Morrison only needed a moment to size up the situation. While The Doors repeated the intro to Break on Through over and over, he bided his time at the side of the stage. When Jim finally crossed the stage and took the microphone, at least one tape-recorder ate up every word. You can still hear it if you want to, ask any hard-core Doors fan for an audio of the Miami concert. Just be forewarned, it wasn’t Jim’s finest hour.
The following is a summary of the controversial moments of the next 65 minutes:
While the introduction repeated, now painfully patient in the background , Morrison rapped incoherently into the microphone. He eventually managed to sing a couple of verses but lost interest quickly, returning to his aimless sermon. “I’m not talking about no revolution. And I’m not talking about no demonstration. I’m talking about having a good time. I’m talking about having a good time this summer. Now you all come to L.A. You all get out there. We’re going to lie down there in the sand and rub our toes in the ocean and we’re going to have a good time. Are you ready? Are you ready?……Are…. you…..ahhhhh!”
“Five to One” was always a controversial call to action and Jim fell into the first few lines of the song. Hesitation. As if transported through the moment to the stage of the Living Theatre, his voice twisted with anger and condemnation. “You’re all a bunch of f**kin’ idiots.” Sounds of shock and outrage from the audience. “Let people tell you what you’re gonna do. Let people push you around. How long do you think its gonna last? How long are you gonna let it go on? How long are you gonna let them push you around. Maybe you love it. Maybe you like being pushed around. Maybe you love getting your face stuck in the shit…..You’re all a bunch of slaves. Bunch of slaves. Letting everybody push you around.
What are you gonna do about it? What are you gonna do about it…What are you gonna do?
On and on it went . At some point Jim staggered over to Robby and fell to his knees, focusing his attention on Robby’s guitar solo (conflicting perceptions would debate his true intentions in the months ahead). Later. “THERE ARE NO RULES”…….. “Anybody here from Tallahassee?” Audience affirmation….. ” Well, I lived there until I got smart and went to California.” At one point Jim made a direct reference to the Living Theatre. “Hey, listen. I used to think the whole thing was a big joke. I thought it was somethin’ to laugh about, and the last couple of nights I met some people who were doin’ somethin’. They’re trying to change the world and I wanna get on the trip. I wanna change the world.”
When someone jumped on stage and drenched him with champagne, Jim took his shirt off. “Let’s see a little skin, let’s get naked.” Damp clothing fell to the concrete floor. “I’m not talking about revolution, I’m not talking about guns and riots, I’m talking about love. Love one another. Love your brother, hug him. Man, I’d like to see a little nakedness around here….grab your friend and love him. Take your clothes off and love each other.” More clothing carpeted the concrete. When Jim finally got around to talking about what was really on his mind no doubt everyone was ready. “You didn’t come here for music did you? You came for something more, didn’t you? You didn’t come to rock’n’roll, you came for something else didn’t you? You came for something else —WHAT IS IT?” The audience recovered quickly from their initial shock and shouted all sorts of options. They weren’t really sure what they wanted, but Morrison was. ” You want to see my c*ck, don’t you? That’s what you came for isn’t it? YEAHHHH!” There was a long, screeching crescendo from the floor. What happened next is anyone’s guess, apparently, Morrison waved his shirt in front of his crotch in bullfighter tradition, he took it away for an instant and taunted. “See it? Did you see it?” The audience proceeded to “see” exactly what they wanted to see (reality has never been defined).
It was then, Jim finally gave into the shouts for Light My Fire. The edge of the prior moment was dulled and the confused mass of followers basked in the rays of their anthem. By this time dozens of people were climbing onto the rickety stage. Collier had finally had enough and made his way toward Jim’s microphone to cool things down. In the struggle that followed, Jim was thrown into the audience. No to be diminished, Jim lead a snake dance through the auditorium , disappeared in the midst of the movement, only to reappear in a balcony to observe the turmoil below. As the weary concert goers filed out, The Doors retired to their dressing rooms . There was the usual group of hangers-on and several policemen came up for autographs. Siddons paid for a policeman’s hat which Jim had flung into the audience earlier and there was the usual good natured joking. Miami went home and The Doors left the next morning, as planned, for a vacation in the Caribbean.
People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.