Frank Lisciandro Interview
(Jim Morrison: A Friend Remembers)

Frank Lisciandro was a close friend of Jim Morrison. He worked, traveled and partied with Jim for three years, photographing and filming the Doors at the height of their popularity.

Last year Frank Lisciandro wrote a book about his experiences with Jim Morrison entitled "Jim Morrison, An Hour For Magic, A Photojournal" (Delilah Books)

We take great pride in presenting this very special interview with Frank Lisciandro.

Q. Frank, why haven't we seen more books about the Doors?
A. I think it's because the Doors themselves and the estate of Jim Morrison have been rather unapproachable in the past about writing about Jim, and about access to the kinds of material you need. As a matter of fact, the Sugerman, Hopkins book ("No One Here Gets Out Alive"), was not authorized by the estate. The estate wanted to stop its publication because there are a lot of inaccuracies in it.

Q. Why don't Morrison's parents speak out about their son?
A. His father is an ex-Navy Admiral, and they tend to be rather conservative, military people. I don't think they've ever realized Jim's greatness, and I think they've always been ashamed that he was busted in Miami, and busted in New Haven. It doesn't fit the image of a military man. In a sense, they would prefer that nothing be written about him. They don't like the way it reflects on them, believe it or not. They don't see the greatness in their son; rather they see the embarrassment it causes them. Because of that, they've been totally uncooperative with everyone. I did hear that they liked my book quite a lot. Although I didn't need their cooperation, it was nice to hear that. But, even his sister hasn't spoken up, or his brother. They would just rather cherish the kind of images they had of him rather than have a publicity thing go out. So they're not very sympathetic to the fans' needs or the people who really idolize Jim even to this day. There are young people and older people even, who find him a great innovator, a great rock singer, lyricist, poet. And these people want more and more information about him. The parents and the family don't see that really. They just don't want the exposure, so, they haven't been generous with their information about Jim. Hopefully, that will change.

Q. Why is Jim Morrison so popular today?
A. When Jim wrote, he wrote from a universal standpoint. That is, he dealt with themes that are universal, and they are timeless. He dealt with love, death, sex, breaking away from one's family, mysticism, breaking on through to the other side. To see a new reality, he talked about rebellion and revolution. Those are things that are a lot different than Sixteen Candles, boy meets girl, boy loses girl. Not only were his themes meaningful, but the way he addressed those themes, the way he treated them. He read deeply into philosophy, and psychology. He was a very learned and well-read person and he was able to talk about those things in a way that people responded then, and still respond to. I think people who listen to him are attracted now both by his physical image, his voice, and also the things he wrote and talked about because those subjects are always meaningful to people.

Q. Is there anybody out there today who has picked up where Morrison left off?
A. I don't see anybody right now on the horizon that has quite the charisma, the magic, and the influence of Jim. I don't see anybody with the deep philosophical bent that Jim possessed. I think the person who has the most humane kind of lyric; and the most humane kind of outlook is Jackson Browne. But, Jackson Browne is no Jim Morrison.

Q. As a co-producer of the "American Prayer" album, are we to believe that everything Jim said on the album should be taken seriously? Are parts of the album a put on?
A. I think that some of the poems are comic, some of the poems are serious, and some of the poems are kind of serious but are meant to be taken comic. Individual poems have different intent. In effect, he was a comic poet. The poem that goes "Curses, Invocations", that's a wonderful set of phrases and images of just weird and surrealistic and wonderful kinds of things that it brings to mind. So, I don't say everything in "American Prayer" is serious, but at the same time, he was serious about the way he used words. It's just at times he used them in a comic sense and other times in a very serious sense.

Q. Towards the end of his life, Jim was asked if he would've lived out the same style of life again, if he had the opportunity. He said no, he'd prefer a quieter, much simpler lifestyle. Was it the legal hassles that caused him to think like that?
A. That was a good part of it, but perhaps more was that he had become, his image had become, larger than himself and in some respects, people expected him to live up to his image. He was a very sensitive, and a very gentle kind of human being. He really cherished close friendships and quiet moments. Unfortunately, he couldn't outlive his image.

Q. Did Jim Morrison like to laugh?
A. Oh yeah, he had a great sense of humor. He was a great conversationist. We would spend afternoons sitting around talking about everything under the sun, laughing and having a good time. He enjoyed good company. He enjoyed other people's ideas. He encouraged other people's ideas. He elicited them. He was a good listener. He was just a pal.

Q. What was his attitude towards women? How did he treat them?
A. He was raised in the South and he had in his background a lot of the manners and style of a Southern gentleman. He would rise up from his seat when a woman entered the room. He would invariably hold a door for a woman. He would always let a woman walk before him. He had all those traits of good manners. And then he was very discreet about the women he dated. He never told macho stories, like boy you should see what I did with her or anything like that. He never even mentioned names. He was so careful about that kind of thing. Virtually any woman who was anywhere near him adored him because he was so kind and considerate. Of course, he looked great too, so women fell head over heels in love with him immediately.

Q. Bill Siddons, who was the Doors road manager, remarked that Jim was "always testing death". He took everything to the extreme. Is that fact or fiction?
A. That's probably fairly true. He was a non-stop kind of human being. I don't know how to really explain it, except to say that he lived as fully as he could in the present moment. He wasn't one to think about the future very much.

Q. Jim's death is surrounded by mystery and controversy. No autopsy was done. His death was reported six days after it happened. Many people didn't even see the body. Is there a possibility that Jim Morrison is still alive somewhere, living under an assumed name?
A. It would be nice to entertain that illusion. Being a close friend, I would love to think of him as being alive, but my feeling is, that he was such an extraordinary human being, so unlike anyone I'd ever met, he had so many talents, he was such an extrovert, that it would be hard to disguise those talents. Even if he assumed a different name and identity, he would still somehow show up in the media somewhere. We're talking about ten, eleven years now, and in that intervening time, I'm sure there would have been some notice of him, or some way he would have made himself known. I think he died in Paris, that Pamela his girlfriend at the time was so grief-stricken by his death; I don't think she faked that. She did see the body. She was there when he died. I've come to the conclusion that he is dead and buried in Paris.

Q. Pamela died of a heroin overdose in 1974. Is there anybody alive today who saw Jim's body?
A. Well, I don't know. I would like to know too. They did have a friend in Paris who was sort of a secretary to both Jim and Pamela, and I don't know what happened to her. Apparently, she would've seen the body. But, I've never known anybody who's known her. There's a Frenchman who lives in Los Angeles who was there in Paris. Whether or not he saw the body, I don't know. I do know he was at the grave when Jim was buried. There's a French film director who was also in Paris and a friend of Jim's at that time. Whether or not she saw the body, I don't know. I did see a death certificate from a French doctor which stated the cause of death, and it was officially stamped. Of course, that could've been forged too. I have not talked to anyone, ever, who saw Jim's body after he had died.

Q. So, the mystery goes on.
A. Absolutely. And I think the mystery is cause for a lot of people to cling to the notion that he might still be alive. I don't want to dissuade people from that, if that's what they need. For my own self, I've come to the conclusion that it's more healthy to think of Jim as not being alive, but his work being alive, his poems, his music.

Q. Don't you find it rather strange that Jim's girlfriend, Pamela, should die of a heroin overdose?
A. I find it tragic. I think she was so grief-stricken, that she turned to hard drugs as a way to relive some of the grief. I think she got into a very bad crowd in Hollywood and there was nobody there to protect her after Jim died. I'm not trying to condone drug use. I don't condone it at all. In her case, she could've made a new life for herself, but in fact, I don't think she was strong enough.

Q. What did Jim Morrison mean when he said, "Give us an hour for magic"?
A. You know other people's poetry is very, very hard to define. I think you limit it when you define it. In a sense it means something different to each of us. I can tell you what it means to me. Somehow, it's saying that life itself is a magical, mystical experience. I mean, you don't have to take drugs. You don't have to get far out. If you can just sit still and realize the complexity of life and the intricacy, mystery, and beauty of life, then that's magic alone. So "Give us an hour of magic", I think he was talking about, extend our life another hour or at least another day, whatever the word hour tends to mean. It can mean a day, a month or a year. But he's talking about having the privilege of being alive, and continuing to do the kind of things he does ...did.

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