♪♫ Jim Morrison to be pardoned; he's not alone in the rock star pardon hall of fame
There was a live lamb on stage, a drunk rock star flinging a police officer's hat into the crowd, a profanity-riddled rant, an overrun stage and possibly a rock star's "magnificent member," as the keyboardist in the band put it.
The Doors had taken over the Dinner Key Auditorium in Tallahassee. Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist, said the lead singer, Jim Morrison, was drunk and disorderly, but he was never naked. The state of Florida disagreed and convicted Morrison of public profanity and indecent exposure. Morrison fought the charges until he was found dead in 1971 in a Paris hotel.
Thirty-nine years later, Gov. Charlie Crist has pushed for, and will likely get, a posthumous pardon of the singer. The "rock star pardon" has drawn criticism from groups contending it is merely a political move for the soon-to-be out-of-office governor. The ACLU criticized Crist for focusing his attention on a dead rock star, rather than trying to bring "true reform to Florida's Reconstruction-era system of disfranchisement."
Morrison, though, is not the first rock star to receive a high-level pardon. Here's a look back on six more famous musicians who had a second chance at legal living:
Slick Rick, the hip-hop legend was given a full pardon by New York Gov. David Paterson in 2008. He had been convicted of attempted murder and weapons charges after he shot and injured his cousin and an acquaintance. Though he served his sentence, the British-born rapper could have been deported without the pardon.
John Lennon was given something of a papal pardon in 2008 when the Vatican newspaper "forgave" his "We're more popular than Jesus" comment. A writer for L'Osservatore Romano said the boast was simply a youthful comment made by someone dealing with rapid success. It was not a pardon from the pope himself, but the world took it as such.
Johnny Cash earned a posthumous pardon from the town of Starkville, Miss., in 2007. The singer stumbled through the town in 1965 drunk after a concert. When the police arrested him, he said he was just out "picking flowers." Three years after Cash's death, the town held the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin' Festival and symbolically granted him a pardon.
John Forte, a former Fugees member, spent seven years in jail for drug trafficking charges after being arrested in 2000 while carrying two briefcases of liquid cocaine worth an estimated $1.4 million through Newark International Airport. George W. Bush pardoned the singer in 2007, and he was released from jail at the end of 2008.
Huddie Ledbetter, a Southern singer and guitarist was convicted of murdering a man in 1917. While in prison, he sang a ballad to the Texas Gov. Pat Neff about how he had seen the error of his ways. He was pardoned in 1925, only to wind up back in jail in 1930 for an attempted homicide.
Merle Haggard got not one, but two pardons: by then-California Gov. Ronald Regan in 1972 after being in jail for attempting to rob a bar, and by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009, after his arrest for illegally owning a firearm.
Did I miss any rock star pardons?
| December 9, 2010; 9:09 AM ET
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