Morrison co-founded the Doors during the summer of 1965 in Venice, California. The band spent two years in obscurity until shooting to prominence with their #1 single in the United States, "Light My Fire", taken from their self-titled debut album. Morrison recorded a total of six studio albums with the Doors, all of which sold well and received critical acclaim. Though the Doors recorded two more albums after his death, the loss of Morrison was crippling to the band, and they disbanded in 1973. In 1993, Morrison, as a member of the Doors, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Since his death, his fame has endured as one of popular culture's most rebellious and oft-displayed icons, representing the generation gap and youth counterculture. He was also well known for improvising spoken word poetry passages while the band played live. Morrison was ranked #47 on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time", and number 22 on Classic Rock magazine's "50 Greatest Singers in Rock". Ray Manzarek, who co-founded the Doors with him, said Morrison "embodied hippie counterculture rebellion". Morrison was sometimes referred to by other nicknames, such as "The Lizard King" and "Mr. Mojo Risin."
Morrison developed an alcohol dependency during the 1960s, which at times affected his performances on stage. He died at the age of 27 in Paris. As no autopsy was performed, the exact cause of Morrison's death remains unknown to this day.
James Douglas Morrison was born on December 8, 1943 in Melbourne, Florida, the son of Clara Virginia (née Clarke) and Rear Admiral George Stephen Morrison, USN, who commanded United States naval forces during the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which provided the pretext for the US involvement in the Vietnam War in 1965. Morrison had a younger sister, Anne Robin, who was born in 1947 in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and a younger brother, Andrew Lee Morrison, who was born in 1948 in Los Altos, California.
His ancestors were Scottish, Irish, and English. In 1947, when he was four years old, Morrison allegedly witnessed a car accident in the desert, during which a truck overturned and some Native Americans were lying injured at the side of the road. He referred to this incident in the Doors' song "Peace Frog" on their 1970 album Morrison Hotel, as well as in the spoken word performances "Dawn's Highway" and "Ghost Song" on the posthumous 1978 album An American Prayer. Morrison believed this incident to be the most formative event of his life, and made repeated references to it in the imagery in his songs, poems, and interviews.