49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Hero but a Little Worship
I first read this book in 1984 and I have re-read it several times in the intervening years. The story of how it came to be published is quite well-known. Jerry Hopkins is a journalist who interviewed Jim Morrison on several occasions during his lifetime. After Morrison dies, Hopkins began work on a biography. Following several unsuccessful years of attempting to get...
Published on July 1, 2003 by Jeff Richardson
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Teenage Hero-Worship Oozes From This Book
This book isn't an objective look at the life of James Douglas Morrison, but who says it has to be? Danny Sugerman knew Morrison and the other Doors, when he worked at Los Angeles' Electra Records in the late 1960's. Sugerman obviously idolized the Lizard King and wrote this book as much as a tribute to his late friend and mentor as a straightforward biography and story...
Published on August 21, 2005 by Dai-keag-ity
Most Helpful First | Newest First
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Hero but a Little Worship,
I think the argument that the book is hero-worship is only partially true. Certainly Danny Sugerman had feelings for Morrison that were akin to idolatry and that comes across in the book. On the other hand, Jerry Hopkins was a working journalist and his professionalism and research is also evident. While reading the book it is in most instances possible to determine what was written by Hopkins and what was penned by Sugerman. I suppose this incongruity might be irksome to some but the narrative does flow and does not detract from the overall story of the life of Jim Morrison.
In the almost 20 years that have elapsed since I first read No One Here Gets Out Alive I have read everything I could get my hands on that in any way concerned Jim Morrison and The Doors. I have yet to read a more definitive account or one which largely contradicted anything contained in this book. That's not to say that there aren't other good books or interesting perspectives, only that this is the wellspring of Jim Morrison-related literature.
This book is of obvious interest to any one who likes the music of The Doors and/or finds Jim Morrison fascinating. I fall into both categories. However, Jim Morrison was not a particularly admirable fellow. He did experiment with drugs, he often treated his friends badly, he was fairly promiscuous (even carelessly impregnating a girlfriend and then shirking responsibility), etc. Of course Morrison did have many good characteristics as well. His love of reading, sense of humor and displays of genuine affection are intermingled with his faults. I believe this book does a generally good job of portraying a reasonable facsimile of Jim Morrison.
For me this book sparked an even greater interest in Morrison and The Doors which continues to this day. At the same time, this book also provides a good antidote to hero-worship. As a cautionary note to those who choose to view Jim Morrison through rose-colored glasses, I suggest that you don't read the Hopkins/Sugerman biography. Those that do choose to read the biography carefully will have, as James Joyce wrote, "discovered to their vast discomfiture that their idol had feet of clay, after placing him upon a pedestal."
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Teenage Hero-Worship Oozes From This Book,
The three separate sections of this book "The Bow Is Drawn" "The Arrow Flies" and "The Arrow Falls" tell, respectively, of the youth and rise of Jim Morrison, the height of his fame as frontman for The Doors from 1967-1971, and finally Morrison's implosion after a half-decade of alcohol and drug abuse, personal neglect and probable psychological illness. The Morrison of No One Here Gets Out Alive is not a flesh and blood human being, but rather the shamanistic figure he clearly was to adolescent Sugerman. As evidence of this, consider once you've read it, how little space is devoted to details of Morrison's death.
This was the first and in some ways both the best and worst book about Jim Morrison. If it does not cover every aspect of his twenty-seven year life with total insight and candor, then it does at least expiate this by giving us a first-hand look at the rise and fall of one of the legends of twentieth-century music. After reading No One Here Gets Out Alive, you'll come away knowing most of what you probably wanted to know about Morrison, and your time will not be wasted. True, some of the darker aspects of the man's character are left out in this exercise in admiration, but I think Sugerman does a good job of getting the "flavor" of the late '60's right, and placing Morrison into it as a person who helped shape the mood and turmoil of that decade in time.
No One Here Gets Out Alive isn't quite the classic today it seemed poised to become when it was first released a generation back, but I think its cult status is assured.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't put the book down,
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No One Gets Out of This Book Without Food for Thought,
The writing is simply well done. And I believe that Danny Sugerman and Jerry Hopkins did their homework and presented the life of Jim Morrison in an unbiased manner. They write of Jim's dark side and addiction, yes, but they also reveal Jim's warmth, humor, and the tumultuous bright mind of a shy boy. What a storm of emotions! Who wouldn't drink to stop the endless flow of feelings and thoughts from a spigot that you can't shut off?
This is just one of many interpretations the reader might come away with concerning Jim's self-destructive lifestyle, his fluctuating moods, and his obvious talent for poetic metaphores. This book gives the reader much to contemplate: the struggle of the human spirit, the need for freedom, the desire to express one's thoughts and ideas, be understood, and therefore; be able to share your experience with others. A few previous reveiwers seemed disappointed that Hopkins and Sugerman did not delve into the psychological reasons for Jim Morrison's addiction, but why should they; they are writers not pyschologists? And I felt they tossed out plenty of bread crumbs as to why Jim seemed bent on self-destruction for the reader to think about and draw our own conclusions.
In defense of Danny Sugerman (someone commented that he was just the mail boy and a Jim Morrison wanna-be), who would be more privy to the personal exploits and be more qualified to write about your life than someone who opened your fan mail every day and worked in the midst of your busy office? Also, if you read the last inside page of the book, you will find that Mr. Sugerman has written other well-received material since. He's not a one hit wonder who writes only about the Doors. And also on behalf of Jerry Hopkins, aside from "interviewing nearly 200 of Morrison's relatives, friends, and associates" for this biogrophy, Mr. Hopkins has written biogrophies of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Yoko Ono. No slouch this guy. I honostly almost did not buy this book because of the negative comments made about the authors. I'm glad I ignored them because if I hadn't, I would have missed out on a wonderful book about triumph and tradgedy and the fascinating life of the tortured poet, James Douglas Morrison.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far Too Romantic a Portrait,
It must be known that a derangement of the senses is not rational. Too much literature and film has glorified Morrison's drug and alcohol abuse causing grotesque behavior as some sort of philosophy of life and inner genius. The persons responsible for the literature and film really have used calculated techniques to sell products. Hero worship has shown to be a major selling point of works related to the Doors and Morrison. For youngsters in high school or younger it is not difficult to idolize this skewed portrait of Morrison, while older and more mature fans may very well grow to hate the man for what he has been portrayed as. What matters most about Morrison is his art. He was an intelligent and unique person as well, but his flaws need to be represented as what they were, not as his lasting legacy. It is my opinion that his drug use often got in the way of the good aspects of his personality, creating a deranged and pathetic figure. He also, (his drug abuse could have contributed), did not face up enough to the numerous difficulties that he faced in life (his parents old fashioned views, film school trendy half-wits slamming his work, and troubles with the law), and this may be what hurt him in the end. These difficulties have to be shown for what they were, and then the world will be able to more fully appreciate the aspects of what made Morrison the artist he was. If mainstream works of bloated literature and film continue to romanticize about the worst aspects of Morrison, he and the rest of the Doors will never be appreciated in the ways they should be. I hope some day a person will go through the trouble of writing a critical but always thoughtful work on the band, and Morrison.
On a more positive note, a reason to read this book would be to examine the romanticized viewpoint of the Doors that has largely become accepted. Also, many other bands are name checked in the book that deserve to be heard, (Love, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Buffalo Springfield and many others.) Lastly, although many of the quotations from philosophers and poets are inappropriate, the younger reader is introduced to some great thinkers and artists in the history of Western thought, and can explore them on their own time.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, comprehensive bio,
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jim Morrison's Short Tragic Life,
Morrison's early years, school days and home life are covered. He was an excellent student - when he chose to be. He never seemed to have a good relationship with his father, who was an officer in the US Navy and was therefore away from home a lot. Did this influence Morrison, his attitude toward authority? Well of course, we are all influenced and shaped by our past. But we do not all drink ourselves to death. The authors try to avoid explaining the 'Why's about Morrison and just focus on reporting his behavior and words and allow the reader to try and guess the rest for themselves.
He went west to study film and UCLA but that did not go especially well and his student filmmaking efforts were not well-received. After dropping out, he united with Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore to form The Doors. His tumultuous years with The Doors are covered in depth. After reading this, I realize that The Doors of the commercialized 'Best Of' album(s), is a far cry from The Doors in the concert hall. Due to Morrison's behavior, especially in Miami, many cities even banned them from even playing.
Morrison was steeped in the rock-star life yet lived a "no-possessions" lifestyle. He abused drugs, moved into alcoholism, slept with many women, could be unpredictable and irrational in the treatment of his friends and ultimately rejected the role altogether. It seems that he may have been turning it around while in Paris but we will never know. It is a shame that he could no pull out of the self-destructive nosedive in time.
This is an excellent biography.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The rock book that got me started,
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Any book on Jim Morrison is instantly interesting..,
I found this book to, as almost any Jim Morrison biography is, to be interesting and well written, passionate and vivid. Perhaps I did not enjoy it quite as much as Break on Through; the life and death of Jim Morrison, however the two were so simliar at times, it felt like entire pages were extracted out of this book to fit the latter. Somehow in the transition though, Break on Through became the more entertaining.
I found this book, however interesting, to be remotely biased. I also agree that Jim Morrison would be less than impressed that a mailboy, a man whom he once gave Rolling Stones tickets, would become rich as a result of his life. Although, I doubt Jim would be impressed that any book about him mentioned his career as a singer. It seemed to be poet or nothing.
Ultimately a very interesting acount of a poetic genius, who has long lived his 27 years. The literary quotations are impressive and researched, but the book strikes me as somewhat shallow at times.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, the Doors are a band,
Of course, the obvious is included. Jim was in the Doors. He didn't like authority, and he had a drinking problem. Unfortunately, this is the basis of most biographies. That's why there are 100 books on Abraham Lincoln. But these authors chose to go beyond that, creating a piece of art instead of a manual. They gathered quotes from family, friends, producers, managers, police, and even his favorite books. They pieced together entire conversations. To the best of anyone's ability but Jim's, they showed the man that he was.
To write a full-length novel on a person who didn't see his 30th birthday is incredible. To make it enjoyable to read is even more so. With the help of too many people to count, they traced his childhood, teenage and college years, entrance to music, rise to fame, and fall into oblivion. All leading to his mysterious death. They followed his rapid transitions of temperament and progressive changes in wants and beliefs as well as his day to day life.
To be frank, there is no need for any other book about Jim Morrison. To write one would be to tarnish the current one, not because it will be greater, but because it will most certainly be worse. To all the fans of the man or his band, and to all who are just curious, do yourself a favor and find this one.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins (Paperback - April 14, 2006)