July 3, 1969/1971: Brian Jones, Jim Morrison Die

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The early Rolling Stones (l. to r.): Ian Stewart, Keith Richards, Brian Jones (top), Charlie Watts (bottom), Mick Jagger (top), Bill Wyman

The rock music genre was still young when recently ousted Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, on a hiatus from his band, both passed away on this day at age 27, two years apart, hence becoming founding members of rock music’s “27 Club.” (More recent inductees: Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.)

Both died in water: Jones in the swimming pool of his country home in East Suffolk, England, Cotchford Farm, the former residence of Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne. Morrison’s life ended (according to the official version) in a Paris apartment at 17 Rue Beautreillis he shared with longtime on-and-off companion Pamela Courson. The cause of Jones’ demise was ruled to be drowning, or “death by misadventure.”

Watch the Stones perform “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in 1968, less than one year before Jones’ death

A 2023 documentary, The Stones and Brian Jones, is currently streaming on Hulu. It has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Morrison’s death certificate lists “heart failure” as the reason he died, though no autopsy was ever performed.

Photo By ©Elliott Landy, LandyVision Inc.

Photo: © Elliott Landy, LandyVision Inc.; used with permission

Drugs are said to be contributing factors in both cases. Jones’ autopsy report noted that his heart and liver were abnormally enlarged due to drug and alcohol use, and it’s thought he was high and/or drunk when he went for a swim. Yet Jones may also have had an asthma attack while swimming. From the beginning rumors speculated he may have been murdered or taken his own life.

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Some accounts say Morrison died from snorting a particularly strong strain of heroin (Courson was a user; Morrison was not). He was also asthmatic, it was claimed. A Paris nightclub manager said that Morrison died from an overdose in the bathroom of his his club, where the singer had come to find some heroin for Courson. His body was then taken back to his apartment in a cover-up. It has also been speculated that Morrison faked his own death, a rumor fed by the fact that only Courson (who died in 1974 from an overdose) and no one from the Doors camp saw his body before Morrison’s coffin was buried in a Paris cemetery.

Or it could all be as widely reported. And that the deaths of both men on the same day as well as the “27 Club” is all just coincidence.

Watch the Doors perform “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” at the Isle of Wight in 1970, just one year before Morrison’s death

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. TyStick
    #1 TyStick 4 July, 2022, 11:42

    Very sad endings. Two of the Greatest Rock & Roll musicians. Brian Jones a multi-instrumental musician was said, that he wanted to start a band with similar sound as CCR. Now that would have been awesome. Jim Morrison, on the other hand, passed away during his peak years. The Doors could have conquered the 70s.
    Two of my favorite bands, The Stones and The Doors.

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