Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Anchored by Melissa Bell  |  About  |  Get Updates:  Twitter  |   Facebook  |  RSS Feeds RSS Feed
Posted at 9:09 AM ET, 12/ 9/2010

♪♫ Jim Morrison to be pardoned; he's not alone in the rock star pardon hall of fame

By Melissa Bell
Jim Morrison
This Sept. 28, 1963, photo shows the arrest mug of Jim Morrison (Florida Dept. of State/AP)

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.

Jim Morrison
Rapper Slick Rick on June 29, 2004. (Fred Prouser/Reuters)

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.

Jim Morrison
John Lennon (Apple Corps Ltd.)

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.

Jim Morrison
Johnny Cash (AP)

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.

Jim Morrison
John Forte (Kyle Gustafson/The Washington Post)

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.

Jim Morrison
Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter (Berenice Abbott/National Portrait Gallery)

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.

Jim Morrison
Merle Haggard (Dave Einsel/The Washington Post)

Did I miss any rock star pardons?

By Melissa Bell  | December 9, 2010; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  Picture Shows  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Elizabeth Edwards and the cancer question
Next: Mark Zuckerberg to give away half his money; Steve Martin finds his funny bone

No comments have been posted to this entry.

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company