Sept. 15, 1968: Jim Morrison Passes Out Onstage in Amsterdam

Jim Morrison in Amsterdam

If The Doors had conquered England, then Amsterdam was the first appearance of forces that would later conquer Jim Morrison.

After London The Doors went on to Germany and lip-synced “Hello, I Love You” in Romer Square in Frankfort, Germany for the TV show 4-3-2-1 Hot and Sweet on the 13th, and then played the Kongresshalle in Frankfort on the 14th, and on September 15th were playing in Amsterdam.

The trouble in Amsterdam didn’t start in Amsterdam, but in the Frankfort airport. Jim Morrison had some hash on him and to get through customs he swallowed it. On the plane he started drinking, and after they arrived in Amsterdam, drank on into the afternoon. Prior to that evening’s show at the Concertgebouw the members of Jefferson Airplane and The Doors were walking down the red light district of Amsterdam, as Paul Grace Slick explained in the video “The Doors in Europe 1968” when fans recognized them “people were coming up to them and handing them pot or some hash, and maybe they would take a puff or two or put the drug in their pockets for later,” but Morrison, on the road to William Blake’s palace of wisdom would ingest everything he was given on the spot.

Later that night both bands were playing at the Concertgebouw. Keeping with the precedent started in London of alternating nights as the opening act, The Airplane went on first and when they got to “Fantastic Plastic Lover,” Morrison, moved by the music and/or the drugs he’d ingested that day came onstage twirling around in circles, in an almost Sufi dance twisting the microphone cords around the band. The Airplane, piqued at the invasion of their territory, started playing faster, encouraging Morrison to spin and dance faster. As the song came to its climax, Airplane singer Marty Balin remembers Morrison stopped, looked at him “real funny” and crashed to the floor, passed out, and was rushed to the hospital.

The Doors, angry that Morrison couldn’t perform, decided to go on as a trio, with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek handling the singing, the phrasing and tone even sounding like Morrison. According to all sources the show that evening was exceptional and the band won an ovation from the audience.

The next day Morrison was released from the hospital and The Doors continued their European tour.

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