Pam Courson: Excerpt From “She Dances in a Ring of Fire”

Pamela Courson and Jim Morrison
Pamela Courson and Jim Morrison, at Pam's "Themis" clothing boutique, West Hollywood, 1970

Pam Courson died, reportedly, of a heroin overdose on April 25, 1974. Courson was the long time “cosmic mate,” girlfriend and common-law-wife of Jim Morrison. After Morrison’s death in Paris in 1971 Courson blamed herself, as possibly Morrison got into her heroin and OD’ed. In her last years Courson mourned Morrison and sought rights as his spouse. In her widow’s grief she died at age 27, the same age as Morrison when he died.

Pam Courson is almost a cipher in The Doors story, but Raeanne Bee and Alix Chavasse are trying to change that, as they’re writing a biography of Courson tentatively titled, “She Dances in a Ring of Fire: The Life and Death of an American Muse”, they hope to publish in the near future. For Pamela Susan Courson here is an excerpt from the introduction to their forthcoming book.

She Dances in a Ring of Fire
by Raeanne Bee and Alix Chavasse

One person more than any other, Pamela Courson, (Morrison’s common-law wife, friend, muse, editor, and sometimes competitor) withstood his fleeting and unpredictable darkness, and it has been thanks to her influence that the world is now able to recognize Jim as, not only a rock n’ roll demigod, but a brilliant poetic visionary. Their relationship was, by all counts, unconventional and strange. Jim took care of Pamela and found in her a kindred spirit and muse, while Pamela encouraged Jim’s creative gifts and tried to save him from the toxic rock scene that was swallowing him alive. They fought like hell, had affairs, and took turns tempting fate through their vices and whims, but in the end, they always returned home (wherever that was at any given time) to one another.

Despite her personal demons, Pam’s loyalty and faith in his work remained constant until her premature death three years after his in 1974. Pamela Courson’s legacy today is so intricately intertwined with Morrison’s that, 40 years on, it is hard to tell one’s story without the other, and we are left with an impression of symbiotic and chaotic companionship, carrying some semblance of a hellish rehashing of Shakespeare’s infamous tale of star-crossed lovers. Despite Morrison’s efforts to protect Pamela through his last will and testament, history has not been so giving, and she continues to this day to be a beautiful mystery, vilified and ultimately misunderstood.

Originally published April 25, 2012.

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