You Know That I Would Be a Liar

If I were to say to you, "Jim Morrison ain't dead"

More than 30 years after Jim Morrison's death, original Doors Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger are still banging away at history. As the Doors of the 21st Century, they headline the Strange Days Festival in West Palm Beach this Friday. The two are aided by a new drummer (skinsman John Densmore refused to dignify the re-formed band by joining), a bassist (another bastardization -- the first incarnation eschewed the instrument), and dreary Jim Morrison stand-in Ian Astbury. If there was ever a band meant to crumble after the fall of its primary pillar, it's these guys, uncharismatic sidemen who were always mere subjects in the court of the Lizard King.

What they need is some integrity.

Or better yet, they need Morrison. Of course, they'll never get him, but not because he's dead.

"Jim won't go back to the Doors, and he won't go back to his parents or his family," says Gerald Pitts, photographer, filmmaker, and personal friend of Jim Morrison. "Jim is shy -- shy when he doesn't have a whiskey bottle around him."

Yeah, that's present tense. See, Morrison is alive and well. These are indeed strange days.

Laugh if you want, but Pitts -- who lives in the rural outpost of Prospect, Oregon -- isn't joking. "As far as I know, he's been living here since '95 or maybe earlier," Pitts says. "We discovered Jim Morrison living on a ranch and raising show-quality Arabian horses."

Pitts says he has the forensic evidence to back up his claim. "We had a Hollywood stunt team that came up," he says of the biographical shootout movie he's producing. "They met Jim personally, and they took some old pictures of Jim and matched up all his scars and places he had been burned on his face and so forth."

Affable and talkative, Pitts is well aware that he sounds like a crackpot. Everyone knows Morrison checked out in Paris back in '71, the victim of '60s excess and his own fame. Right? Wrong.

"There was a French conspiracy to kill Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison," Pitts explains excitedly. "This is documented in books. They were all 27 years old, and Ray Manzarek verified this also. They got Jimi and Janis -- those two were dead. When it came to Jim Morrison's turn, he put a casket in the ground in Pere-Lachaise, France. And get this -- there were only four people at that funeral. That's what Jim told me."

There you have it: The rock 'n' roll poet faked his death, cut his hair, and became a cowboy.

Crazy, maybe, but Pitts seems more opportunistic than insane. A budding filmmaker, he's plugged his tale on wingnut-magnet Art Bell's Coast to Coast AM radio show and TV tabloid A Current Affair. He has a self-produced $25 video for sale that supposedly proves his story. He's also waiting for a beverage distributor to get on board so he can sign Morrison up to endorse "his internationally known favorite brewski," he says. You can read all about it at his website, www.rodeoswest.com, and even check out a few photos (Jim holding a rifle; Jim in sunglasses drinking beer). Then it's up to you whether to catch the Doors splinter group at Sound Advice or hold out till the older, scarier, countrified Jim Morrison breaks on through once more. -- Jonathan Zwickel

Strange Days Festival featuring the Doors of the 21st Century, Vanilla Fudge, the Yardbirds, and Pat Travers lights your fire at 6 p.m. Friday, June 10, at the Sound Advice Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $40 to $65. Call 561-793-0445.

Unhorned

There was a time when you could play sax in a rock band, but that ship has sailed, friends, and it docks now only when VH1 airs a weekend-long "I Love the '80s" marathon. The Me Decade was also the Reed Decade. Think about it: Clarence Clemons was the linchpin of Bruce Springsteen's crowd-pleasing E Street Band. Kirk Pengilly more or less defined the INXS sound. There was Glen Frey's seminal "You Belong to the City," not to mention most of the Miami Vice soundtrack. And there was Billy Hicks.

Actually, Hicks is just a part played by Rob Lowe in the TNT New Classic St. Elmo's Fire. His searing sax solos for a fictional group called the New Breed Band caused a younger Demi Moore to mouth-rape him in one scene.

If they remade St. Elmo's Fire with, say, Ashton Kutcher in the Billy Hicks role, two things would happen: (1) Demi Moore would still mouth-rape him, and (2) Hicks would now be the hot-shit guitar player. Why? Because no one would buy that a mothereffing sax player could front his own rock band.

There are a few people out there who still believe. I came across one when I was trying to find information on Timmy Cappello, also known as the ponytailed, greased-up sax player who made his mark in the '80s with a cameo in Lost Boys. As it turns out, the "sweaty sax player from Lost Boys" has a website. A pretty fancy one, actually, at www.ultimatetimmyfanz.com. So I contacted the guy who created it, J.D. Summar, to ask what happened to the sax.

"The ease of creating synthesized music has killed music that used to be played by real musicians," Summar writes. "It's easier to have a machine play music than a person. I'm sorry, but computers can't play the same way a human can. Plus, the majority of music out there today doesn't lend itself to sax performances, unfortunately."

That last bit is probably the real reason. But just because there doesn't seem to be a place for it doesn't mean it can't work. So listen up, Franz Ferdinand and the Killers and all you other retro bands out there. The gauntlet has been thrown down. Come next year, I want to see new albums with sax solos on them. I played tuba in high school. My dream died a long time ago. -- Zac Crain

Cali-Cruising

For more than ten years, the members of Oakland, California,'s Hieroglyphics Imperium have reigned as lords of the West Coast hip-hop underground. Souls of Mischief, A-Plus, Casual, and Del the Funkee Homosapien have all had their share of minor hits and mix-tape sensations, but they've proven stronger as a unit than as individual acts -- a true example of indie solidarity. In late 2003, the full posse -- some 12 members deep -- wrapped a tour bus with a giant Hiero logo and hit the road for a month and a half. This 90-minute DVD follows their travels across North America.

And it does it with a voyeuristic eye, serving up more backstage smoke sessions, fan testimonials, artist confessions, in-store signings, and family homecomings than on-stage footage. There's also a fair amount of acrimony candidly depicted, from inter-crew strife to run-ins with volatile cops to unruly fans. That honesty makes Full Circle an intriguing document of both the groupie-slaying party life and the harsher aspects of touring. It's the kind of intimate, intriguing, musical soap opera that anyone could get sucked into.

And if you're just looking for the good stuff, there's an outstanding live CD included, culled from tour highlights. Hiero has always been good to its fans, and this package is no different. -- Jonathan Zwickel

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