Most Doors fans know Patricia Kennealy-Morrison as the woman Jim Morrison supposedly married in a Wicca witch ceremony, either through one of Jim Morrison’s biographies, Oliver Stone’s “The Doors,” or Kennealy-Morrison’s own “Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison.” Some may even know she was a writer-editor of Jazz & Pop Magazine from September 1968 until February 1971. But how many of us have the chance to read her articles as a rock journalist? Now we can, since Kennealy-Morrison has collected most of the articles she wrote at Jazz & Pop in her new (published July 2013) book “Rock Chick: A Girl and Her Music: The Jazz & Pop Writings 1968-1971.”
Patricia Kennealy’s life is a veritable hippie Horatio Alger story. After graduating from college as a journalism major, Kennealy is working as a Go-Go dancer when she picks up a copy of Jazz & Pop Magazine. Kennealy then sends the publisher-editor Pauline Rivelli a letter saying how much she liked the magazine and if she was looking for a writer she’d be interested in a job. A few months later, Rivelli answers Kennealy’s letter and, in fact, offers her a job and the rest is rock ‘n’ roll history.
In “Rock Chick” Kennealy-Morrison has collected the majority of her published journalism. For those of us who weren’t there, this is the opportunity to read the articles and judge the writing for ourselves.The articles cover the gamut of magazine writing from articles, reviews, interviews, and opinion. Kennealy was writing at a time when people thought music could really change the world and that optimism and enthusiasm comes through in her pieces about The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Woodstock, and Altamont.
Kennealy got started at Jazz & Pop just as rock ‘n’ roll was first being taken seriously as an art form by writers like Richard Goldstein. Kennealy was not only among that first wave of rock writers, she was in the more rarified minority of being a woman writer in a time when rock ‘n’ roll was still very macho, and dinosaur attitudes toward women still existed not only in the older generation but were very much alive with the baby-boom members of the revolution. Kennealy very aptly points this out in her excellent editorial “Rock Around the Cock,” which one of her points is that the sexual revolution worked out very well for the male members of that generation while female members were still fulfilling traditional roles albeit in hippy garb.
Like any book there are some shortcomings. I’m not sure if she needed to go into so much detail in her post Jazz & Pop career as a copywriter at RCA, where among other things she worked on David Bowie’s initial ad campaigns when he came to America, but when it gets down to details about how she and radio producers created ads it drags a bit. I also wonder at the inclusion of the article “Morrison Hotel Revisited” which was written by Elektra publicist Bruce Harris (under the pseudonym of Chris Reabur) and reads like Jim Morrison hagiography while mashing up Doors lyrics and context and stretching the boundary of Morrison’s meaning. Kennealy-Morrison freely admits to favoritism in the bands covered by Jazz & Pop (that’s why a lot of the articles are about The Doors or Jefferson Airplane), and perhaps Kennealy-Morrison was doing a friend a favor.
There are also a few quibbling minor things I need to bring up. The first is editing. There are some typos throughout the book and Kennealy-Morrison probably should have had another set of eyes run through before publishing. The worst example is in her interview with Jim Morrison, the one where she first met him and they allegedly felt the spark of electricity between them. It seems astounding that this article is in need of some copyediting. Also, for Kindle readers, the formatting isn’t always correct. Sometimes sentences are cut in half and dropped down a line. These are minor things, but noticeable and frequent enough to justify commenting on.
In “Rock Chick: A Girl and Her Music: The Jazz & Pop Writings 1968-1971,” you’ll find some excellent writing on rock ‘n’ roll and even the times. None of the subjects seem dated in the least. You may agree or disagree with Kennealy-Morrison’s opinions (The Doors’ “Ship of Fools” ecology rock?). If you’re in a mind to give the writing a fair shake, do it; the trip is worth it.
“Rock Chick: A Girl and Her Music: The Jazz & Pop Writings 1968-1971” is available at Amazon.
Originally published September 21, 2013.