- Associated Press - Thursday, December 9, 2010

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (AP) - Forty years after Jim Morrison was convicted of exposing himself at a wild Miami concert, this is the end: Florida’s Clemency Board, egged on by departing Gov. Charlie Crist, pardoned The Doors’ long-dead singer Thursday.

Some people who were at the Miami show March 1, 1969, insist even today that he exposed himself, though others in the audience and Morrison’s bandmates contend he was just teasing the crowd and only pretended to do the deed. Crist, tuned in to the controversy by a Doors fan, said there was enough doubt about what happened at the Dinner Key Auditorium to justify a pardon.

The board, which consists of Crist and a three-member Cabinet, voted unanimously to pardon Morrison on indecent exposure and profanity charges as they granted several other pardons Thursday. At the hearing, the governor called the convictions a “blot” on the record of an accomplished artist for “something he may or may not have done.”

He said Morrison died before he was afforded the chance to present his appeal, so Crist was doing that for him. Board members pointed out several times that they couldn’t retry the case but that the pardon forgave Morrison and negated his sentence.

“In this case the guilt or innocence is in God’s hands, not ours,” Crist said.

Morrison had received a six-month jail sentence _ never served _ and a $500 fine for the 1970 convictions, which carried consequences for the band. Ray Manzarek, The Doors’ keyboard player, said Miami was supposed to be the start of a 20-city tour, but every venue canceled after Morrison’s arrest.

“We had the mandate of heaven, and I think at that moment, he lost the mandate of heaven,” Manzarek said. “In the recording studio, the magic stayed, but I think at that moment in Miami, the live performance magic left for a little while and then came back intermittently.”

Morrison’s appeals were never resolved. He was found dead in a Paris bathtub in 1971 at age 27. No official cause of death was ever issued _ his manager said he died of “natural causes.”

Manzarek and Doors guitarist Robby Krieger supported the pardon because they say Morrison never exposed himself, though they agreed Florida’s move will have little effect on Morrison’s wild, outsized, drug-addled rock ‘n’ roll image.

Jim’s legacy is one of Dionysian madness and frenzy and of a chaotic American poet. I don’t think that the Miami episode has altered his image one iota,” Manzarek said.

The pardon isn’t enough for Patricia Kennealy Morrison, who says she married Morrison in a ceremony that was never made official. She wanted the convictions expunged and called the pardon “a complete cheap, cynical, political ploy.”

“I have a real problem with the semantics of a pardon. The pardon says that all his suffering and all that he went through during the trial, everything both of us went through, was negated,” she said.

Kennealy Morrison says she exchanged vows with Morrison in a Celtic pagan ceremony. Morrison left his entire estate to another woman, Pamela Courson, a longtime girlfriend who was with him when he died. Courson died in 1974.

Kennealy Morrison said Morrison’s convictions led to his demise, and that of the band. She said he felt like he “had been made a scapegoat of the counterculture movement.”

“He cared about it. It affected him deeply. In fact, I think it was one of the contributory causes of his death, actually. It certainly destroyed The Doors, pretty much. They didn’t perform so much as a group after Miami, after the verdict came through,” she said.

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