This is an oldie but goody interview from way back in 2005, originally published on Doors.com. I first came across Tony’s name in the book Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison and wondered why no one else had ever interviewed him. I’m happy to report that he is currently working on an autobiography affectionately called “the accursed book”. If you think Tony had an exciting life working for the Doors and the Stones, wait till you hear his stories of growing up! He’s a remarkable man with a remarkable viewpoint.
From the height of the Doors fame to their last outdoor concert, the Isle of Wight, Tony Funches was there. Much more than Jim Morrison’s bodyguard, he was also a friend, partner in crime, and all-round fixer of problems.
Tony is exactly the type of person you want for such a position. His imposing 6’5 height and still muscular body at 60 let’s you know he won’t take any crap. But it’s his surprisingly smooth Barry White baritone in contrast that conveys a gentle intelligence and trustworthy nature. To talk to him for a few minutes feels like you’ve known him forever and in the three years I’ve known him he has become a very good friend.
The kind of rough and tumble rock and roll lifestyle people associate with Jim Morrison, Tony lived and continues to live! Currently residing in Nevada, he has started several businesses, worked as an aircraft mechanic, gained a daughter and son and lost several ex-wives since leaving the music world.
He remembers the Doors family as ‘genuinely good people’ and looks back on this time fondly and luckily for us, in detail. Although Tony has been mentioned in several Morrison biographies, he has never been interviewed before nor even contacted by any authors. The following conversation took place through email over the course of a year. Tony’s distinctive and expressive writing style has been kept intact.
Because Tony was also working for the Rolling Stones during the late 60s, he missed the Doors’ infamous Miami concert as well as their last performance in New Orleans. Unfortunate for Jim, as one gets the impression that things might have gone differently had Tony been there.
What were the sixties like for you?
Tony: Quick Answer: 1960- 8th grade and puberty. 1969- Viet Vet on tour with the Rolling Stones. What a difference a decade makes. I was in the 10th or 11th grade the day JFK was murdered by the Mob and the CIA. After high school I went to junior college at LA Trade Tech for commercial art, but that didn’t really do it for me; then I went to live in Pennsylvania to go to college there, but a traffic accident on an icy bridge lead me to enlist in the Air Force. The military experience requires a BOOK, so that’ll be enough of that.
How did your accident lead you to enlist in the Air Force?
Tony: Check with your dad or older family member my age; in those days it was common practice for judges encountering youthful and wild young men to recommend ‘service to your country’ as an alternative to incarceration. A LOT OF G.I.s of my generation were thus ‘encouraged’ to enlist by wise judges in local courts.
When you came back from serving in Vietnam, how drastic were the changes in music and the social climate?
Tony: October 1968 I returned home to LA and EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED! Marvin Gaye did “What’s Going On” from the same viewpoint; Black G.I. returning home from overseas. I almost immediately started to find myself being sought out for the developing rock and roll BUSINESS and was comfortable with that, although it was not my ambition or avocation at the time.
What were your ambitions prior to getting into the music business?
Tony: There really was no plan; I enrolled in WLAJC to study political science and thus understand how the disaster of Viet Nam came about so I (and others) could be on guard against the same kind of mess happening again. Dubya and Iraq? Hello?
Past that, I had no aspirations other than academia and thirsting for knowledge. I’ve always been adept at earning a decent income, so setting a specific ‘career goal’ was not on my mind. Politics was and still is my passion.
Could you relate to the music and politics of the emerging counter-culture?
Tony: White folks everywhere were finally starting to loosen up as my people’s culture had generations ago, so it wasn’t difficult to assimilate into a culture I had already been exposed to; Jazz and the attendant Beat culture were integral parts of the black experience when I was in high school. Hell, among my HS circle of friends/peers, the prevailing radio station we all listened to was KBCA, 24 hrs a day FM progressive Jazz. So, what were all these white folks really just suddenly discovering? A cultural freedom that had already existed for many generations prior.
How did you become Jim Morrison’s bodyguard?
Tony: After I got out of the Air Force, I started working at good paying jobs as a heavy equipment mechanic. I partied so hard, I had to hock my watch for gas money to get to work. The son-in-law of the pawn shop owner also promoted small, high school gym rock concerts and needed somebody to cover his back with a briefcase full of cash. I started with him, met others like him as LA became a rock and roll Mecca. Bill Siddons was a pal of his. I came to be around the band as they and I lived and worked in the same business and it just happened from there. I didn’t think Jim needed me, but since everybody else they tried BLEW IT, Bill finally talked me into it. I stayed till the end. I really miss the guy.
How long did you work for the Doors?
Tony: It was almost immediately after I was discharged from the Air Force, which was Oct.’68. By December or January I was doing concerts with Donnie Branker and West Coast Productions. EVERYBODY in the business in Southern California knew me. The Doors mostly phased into my picture as being within a circle of friends. So, let’s use February/March ’69 as a start date and ‘the end’ was the Isle of Wight gig. Interestingly enough, the curse of the Isle is known as the three Js; Janis, Jim, and Jimi all died within a month of that gig. It was THE LAST Isle of Wight!
Is it true you were hired to keep Jim out of trouble and from drinking too much?
Tony: Keep him out of trouble? Yes. Drinking too much? No.
What do you mean by keeping him out of trouble? Was he hassled a lot or did he cause trouble himself?
Tony: (A) Yes.
Depends or where he/we were. In a top market Boss Jock setting where the Howard Sterns of the day held forth, “KATIE, BAR THE DOOR!” These moronic idiots would try to press every psychological button they could dream of. They didn’t prepare themselves for a truly superior intellect and Jim would devour their egos for breakfast and barely a burp when he was done. They got what they asked for and then some. Usually he just decimated them for being hostile opportunists in the first place. Jim had the truly uncanny ability to accurately read a person’s motives and then react accordingly. There were times I observed some hoity-toity schmuck (male and female) observe, “Oh! Jim Morrison! Do something WEIRD Jim” as in “thrill me you fool!” He would then ‘read’ them and regurgitate back to them that which they uniquely feared the most about themselves and/or the world they existed in. A truly magnificent guy, really. They took him for a lightweight because of the lyrics, press coverage and such. They SHOULD have looked closer and witnessed the genius. I did and I’m no Rhodes Scholar.
Again, depends on where and what; I never saw the guy start ANY shit with ANYBODY. He wasn’t so constantly wasted that he couldn’t stick up for himself. But in terms of everyday activities, he was extremely polite to everyone, soft spoken, shy, and incredibly generous. The man tipped RUDE service extravagantly. I witnessed this numerous times, especially on a road trip when he and I grabbed a couple of honeys and drove up the U.S. 1 route from LA to San Francisco to drop in on The Airplane and The Dead. But that’s another story. (They encountered a rude, bitter old waitress who didn’t approve of hippies or blacks. When Jim left an extravagant $50 tip, she came running out of the restaurant after them, demanding to know why. Jim replied, “For such great service.” Tony still chuckles when he thinks of the woman’s expression.)
Do you think he intentionally tried to provoke riots? Was he always drunk during concerts?
Tony: (A) Yes and (B) No.
What were the most memorable shows for you?
Tony: Madison Square Garden on January 17th; my birthday! Some kid crawled up on the stage in the bat of an eye, wrapped himself around Jim’s mike stand and stayed there for the whole show. Winterland with Bill Graham was always great, Denver gig for Barry Fey (who had been trying to hire me for years) at D.U. Arena.
Were you his bodyguard 24 hours a day or just for the shows?
Tony: Both. I was always available whenever he felt like it. He had to have time/privacy to himself; he required solitude at times. The rest of the time I usually would go find him or he would call me and say let’s meet up and do whatever. Of course, yes, I did all the shows after I finished with The Stones ’69 tour at Altamont. EVERY GIG I WORKED WITH THE DOORS WAS INCIDENT FREE. And Jim was never arrested for anything from the time I came on board full time. I am very good at what I do.
Did the other Doors have bodyguards or need them in their personal lives?
How would you describe Morrison? Has he been portrayed accurately by the media?
Tony: Nice guy! Genuinely a HELLUVA NICE GUY! I can’t tell you how many times Jimbo would stop and talk, chat, shoot the breeze with every person he met; regular street people. The power brokers and BULLSHIT radio jocks set him off with their BULLSHIT, but he was the nicest guy on the planet with the faceless crowd. It would really take a book to tell that part. Has he been portrayed accurately by the media? F**k NO!
Was his personality any different off stage than on? Would you say his black leather Lizard King image was contrived or calculated?
Tony: Not really, other than the hatred of F***ING ASSHOLE AUTHORITY TYPES. By that I mean, I would see Jim chat and visit with regular cops and they would get along fine. But when another cop would bust his chops, the shit did hit the fan. The Lizard King bullshit was dreamed up by some idiot marketing f**khead. Jim never really subscribed to it but did allow others to see it that way if they wished. He was fascinated by the esoteric vision of what lizards conjure up within the human mind’s primeval power and mystery. It’s all really in the LYRICS of the song, give ’em another look.
And bikers have been wearing black leather for YEARS before Jim got his leathers. I STILL wear mine. Again, much of that SEXGOD Image was contrived by others and Jim went along because they babbled that it was good for the band and record sales, etc. He couldn’t have given a shit about all that crap.
Tell us a little about his lifestyle? What was it typically like backstage before and after the concerts?
Tony: Lifestyle …the poor bastard lived like a bum! He had the house on Kings Road but preferred the Alta Cienega hotel room he always crashed at. It was walking distance to The Doors office across the street (8512 Santa Monica Blvd.); downstairs and two stumbles away was the Phone Booth strip club (where he and I were very ‘lucky with the ladies’) and Barney’s Beanery was a block away for food and drinks.
Quite often, Jim’s ‘poetry pals’ would pop up at the office and they/we would cruise around HollyWEIRD doing the eat and drink bit while they debated weighty issues of the day and different philosophies. Occasionally Jimbo would take a SHOWER…NOT OFTEN.
He was just a regular guy trying to be a decent person and suffering from his own genius at what the world and government had and would become. All that has happened since he left us are things he and I discussed and he saw it all coming. He was NOT pleased to have that vision. He was like Ray Milland in the film “The Man Who Could See Forever” in that sense.
Backstage? Normally it was quiet and calm. The band would be ready; Vince Treanor always had his act together and Leon Barnard sometimes traveled with us and was a neat guy to have around. The rest of the guys usually had their wives along, but we all dreaded Pamela attempting to show up. Fingernails on the blackboard. When she was around, Jim was NOT a person to be liked. She drove the guy up the wall and consequently the rest of us as well. ‘Needful high maintenance’ could be inserted here.
We always had top notch catering and whatever other refreshments – juices, fruit, booze – we wanted. Sometimes other rock ‘n’ rollers playing in the same towns would stop in to visit.
Please tell us more about your discussions on the state of the world and government. What did he see coming? Was he a politically involved person?
Tony: The inexorable march of fascism, the long range futility of Flower Power, the graying of the hippies into coupon clipping yuppies turning their backs on the ideals of the movement, and such as that. He was a student of Voltaire along with all the other philosophers already associated with him. He was incredibly astute politically, and correctly observed that most of the people of our generation were following the fad, not steeped in rightfulness of what was being attempted. The prevailing excuse was (is?) ‘It’s cool, so we’ll do this until the NEXT change in the wind/moral direction comes along.’ He liked Dylan’s lyrics “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” although he did not become involved in any political action himself. He preferred to observe as the watcher. And what he (and I) saw saddened him/us, vapid lemmings, racing to sea in order to ‘be like everyone else.’
Going back to his lifestyle, I didn’t know he had a house on Kings Road. Is this the bungalow he bought for Pam Courson, his girlfriend in Topanga Canyon?
Tony: No, he stashed Pam there to get her out of his hair, I think. But even with that she still had his financial backing for a little boutique located, you guessed it, 100 feet from the office. Re: the exact address for King’s Road, sorry, but I could probably drive right up to it even to this day (Tony has since discovered that it was town down when he tried to drive there during a recent visit to LA).
Jim learned that he should not drive after wrapping a Shelby Mustang King Cobra 428 around a telephone pole, and taxis are less than prompt even in the Hollywood Hills so it was just simpler to do the Alta Cienega bit. Unless he woke under some strange woman, which happened often.
Clearly Pam wasn’t his be-all, end-all although he did leave everything to her. Was it because he felt responsible for her?
Tony: Payoff for her self imposed misery. Besides, he didn’t really feel close to any other living human being, and she passed for whatever closeness his kind of loner could connect with. Pam was a ‘known quantity’ and he knew she really cared for Jimbo, the person. As much as his genius/intellect could fathom that recognition, he liked her. But people like Jim are not social beings; they are apart for lack of peers, with peers making available commonality of salient discourse. Diogenes felt the same way.
Much is made of the fact that Jim never had a home so it’s surprising to find out he did indeed own one. Please describe the neighborhood. Was it far from the studio and that’s why he rarely used it? Do you know when he bought it and was it furnished?
Tony: Strange, I thought EVERYBODY knew about the Kings Road place. It was above “The Strip,” not far from the Continental “Riot” (Hyatt) House. Kings Road, at that time, was a winding serpentine street. It traveled north, towards the (ugh!) San Fernando Valley, but was situated on the Hollywood side of “The Hill.” It was/still is a very beautiful street with well-kept homes and manicured lawns and landscaping. The bit, as I remember it, was really fueled by the other band members, assorted concerned friends and management/financial types (Bill Siddons and Bob Greene) that Jim needed the tax write-off, and Jim could benefit from having the security and comfort of a ‘home’ instead of the Alta Cienega room, which he allowed himself to be talked into.
The one time I was there with him to pick up some books he wanted before we went on a concert road trip, the place was virtually empty except for the usual ‘bachelor’ fruit crates, and a lamp here and there.
Put simply and bluntly, Jim liked living the life of an avant garde writer/poet, and the simplicity of the Alta Cienega provided that kind of “Beat Generation” atmosphere. The trappings of ‘a home’ such as Kings Road was not the atmosphere Jimbo saw for himself as a ‘serious writer.’ The possibility exists that he likewise may have enjoyed it as a ‘place of solitude’ when he wanted to be alone from everything and everybody. As I’ve said before, we both were essentially ‘loners’ and loners have to have solitude at times, by the nature of that kind of personality. The BS that went with Jim’s ‘fame’ often would cause him/us to just get lost in the everyman/everyday worlds and enjoy time apart from the music BUSINESS madness. We did that often enough to serve as a sanity tonic. In any case, he rarely visited the place, the mystery of Kings Road is planted in Paris, and he isn’t talkin’ on the subject.
Did he do mundane things like go to the grocery store or bank or was that taken care of for him?
Tony: Yes, he did do mundane things, but groceries? For what? He never ate at all unless we were in a restaurant or bar or someplace where somebody brings food to you, ready to eat. And banking was covered excellently by Bob Greene and Associates. Jim had his Amex and MasterCard. The Doors insisted that I ALWAYS have $X,000 in my pocket to accomplish ANYTHING I needed to do. Whenever I depleted any portion of that in the course of my assigned priorities, it was replenished A.S.A.P.
When he’d alternately grow a beard and then shave it, my GUESS is that he had a barbershop shave it because he was one hairy bastard when it came to the beard. The guy could grow a full size Russian beard in two days!
He wasn’t even a clotheshorse, and I’m pretty sure Pam bought whatever clothes he carted around with him. The guy surely did live very simply, period. He loved going shopping for books, of course, and whenever he did want to get/find/buy something, he was very comfortable going out into the world himself in person to obtain it. He liked the public, as expressed earlier; REAL People, REAL places where REAL people do REAL, everyday real things. It revitalized him and I would see, at those times, the guy being animated and ALIVE and enjoying himself. It really kinda saddened us both when he/we had to go ‘back to work with all the phony f***ers that permeate that landscape.
You mentioned his poetry pals. In his book “Light My Fire,” Ray Manzarek described Babe Hill, Frank Lisciandro and Paul Ferrara as the faux Doors and implied that they encouraged his drinking while taking away from his creativity with the band. Would you say this is an accurate description?
Tony: No, but then again my perspective at the time was the same as Ray’s. I have liked and admired Ray; he could always take everyone’s view into account and soothe all concerned parties. He’s the glue that held the band together.
What were his relationships like with the other Doors, with producer Paul Rothschild and manager Bill Siddons?
Tony: John could barely tolerate anybody (he and I got along GREAT. I kept Jim out of trouble, NOBODY could keep him sober when he didn’t want to be); Robby is still the nicest, most decent man on the plane and Uncle Ray kept it all together.
Rothschild? love/hate. Paul knew how to get the best recording performance out of Jim even when Jim didn’t want to dig that deep. Whatever friction resulted is normal in the process of creating The Doors Sound.
Siddons? Again, the same, but possibly to a lesser degree. But there was still THE BUSINESS of the Doors that required Jim to be an active participant and he despised it. The result is the unfounded rumor that he didn’t like Bill. That was not so.
How about the suits at Elektra? Was he on friendly terms with them and Jac Holzman?
Tony: We ALL loved Jac. Elektra stayed with the guys after all the Christian Right indignation becoming the UNsilent majority. The guys all knew how Jac started Elektra years earlier, traveling alone through the South with an Ampex tape recorder strapped on his back, recording the old blues legends before they passed away. Jac was seriously liked and admired by the guys, Jim included. All of Elektra staff was cool as well and they REALLY dug the Art Director who was a genius at album art, William S. Harvey if memory serves me at all.
What was Jim’s relationship like with Danny Sugerman?
Tony: As I remember it, Jim actually LIKED the kid. I’m pretty sure that I was present during the conversation in the office when the four members all agreed to “give the kid a desk and let him answer the fan mail,” and I remember Jim having active participation in that discussion and even pointing to a desk just inside the door, to the immediate right as you entered the upstairs office area. It was in front of a window, facing into the room. And the whole four members (the Doors) were pleased with themselves at making the decision. But Jim’s sense of humor could be a tad ‘out-of-the-norm’ and that may be where others surmise that he didn’t LIKE Danny. He did in fact like Danny Sugerman and of that I am certain. Face the fact; if ANY of The Doors decided they DIDN’T like the kid they would have handed him his marching papers and that would’ve been that!
Did he ever discuss how he felt about being famous? Was he comfortable with having a rock star image or is it true he was more interested in pursuing poetry/film?
Tony: Latter is true. He could not stand the media circus and phony assholes populating that hemisphere of indulgence.
Do you think his problem with alcoholism escalated because he had a hard time dealing with his success?
Tony: Yes and the fact he just liked to drink! Again, I repeat MANY of the sycophant assholes that crawled out from under the slime would cause extreme actions from ANYONE! That Jim’s genius allowed him to offend them so well is testament to how irritating they were in the first place.
Did anyone try to confront him about his excessive drinking?
Tony: You gotta be kiddin’! Ray, Bill, Pam, everybody and their brother and then they finally gave up. Never entered his ear, to exit the other side. The only reason he and I got along so well was because I could drink him under the table and still keep his ass outta jail. As long as I did that everyone was happy, including Jim.
Did Morrison ever discuss why he claimed to have no family? How did this estrangement with his parents affect him?
Tony: No, and I didn’t feel it was my place as a friend and/or employee to inquire further. When he did mention something related to that topic, it was obscure by design, ambiguous at best. All I knew for sure was that he had no warmth for his strictly authoritarian dad and was sad that his mom didn’t negotiate a lessening of that authoritarianism. His siblings were of the sentiment that you go along to get along, so they might secretly support his antics and avocation, but at great peril in the household of Adm. Morrison.
I did have the underlying sense that besides the above, he really didn’t want to cause them greater embarrassment and/or engage in further friction. Besides, he was aware of what the media could and would do with widespread knowledge of the identity of this family. All this at a time of great social upheaval, with a charged atmosphere of anarchy and the FBI assassinating and/or framing every last Black Panther party member they could find in the days of rage and the Chicago Seven. Why would he want to bring his family into it?
Do you think it would have been detrimental to the Doors’ career had it been revealed that Morrison’s father played a key role in the Vietnam War? Do you think that is why he claimed to be an orphan?
Tony: Certainly not. No one beefed that Robby’s dad ran The Rand Corporation! It would require a wide array of systemic morons to make that stretch. In fact, many of the rock and roll icons of the day were scions of wealthy and/or powerful families: Carly Simon (Simon and Schuster), Grace Slick went to Wesleyan College. In ANY case a lot of people knew it anyway.
Did he have contact with his brother and sister?
Tony: A few times that I remember, by phone always. That man was tight lipped on that.
What did he do on holidays; did he spend them with Pam’s family?
Tony: No f***ing way! He was a loner. He/we would observe others observing the holiday and drink and chase women. Often Ray and Dorothy, Bill or Robby’s family would cram sincere invites down his throat. I got the drift that he really felt out of place at such social functions where he would actually have to avoid weird-ing out anyone. When he’d wonder aloud to me that he was ambivalent on these invitations, my response was usually, “Well, man, they already know you and they still invited you. Make up your own mind.”
Do you have any stories you want to share about Morrison interacting with fans or people on the street?
Tony: There are too many, but there are the witches in Boston, the burlesque theatre in Baltimore and the poetry woman in Denver.
(A) The Witches of Boston–
OK, sit down, pour a stiff shot this is gonna grind some teeth for whoever reads it. We did the Boston gig and caught a REALLY GOOD band playing in the hotel lounge. The Doors (mostly Ray, Robby and Jim) decided to see if the bass player would be interested in laying down some tracks sometime on the next album (LA Woman). Jim invited me to ‘cruise’ with him. We found the ‘funky bohemian’ part of town (every city has its ‘hip/hippie’ neighborhoods) and off we went. In the course of finding a bar/restaurant to drink/eat/chill in, we found ourselves charmingly fascinated with a pair of witches. They dressed the part, seemed sincere in their beliefs, and were not overtly stargazers and were also actually very attractive. After drinks and whatever grub, the four of us cruised over to their place and climbed several floors of stairs. After we entered, we all just ‘paired off’ and went in different bedrooms and the usual sounds resulted. I had warned the darlin’ dear that “I DON”T DO CATS,” to which she said she’d put the particular cat (one of MANY in the apartment) that was trying to pick a fight with me, into another room. After a number of minutes, I felt great pain as (cat) claws lacerated twin dangling parts of my anatomy as my ass waved around, and up and down, in the air. I grabbed the f***ing, doomed cat and threw it out a window. It sailed four (five?) floors, straight down. She screamed brand new profanities. I got up, washed the blood off with cold water, got my clothes, waltzed over to the closed door where Jimbo was, announced that we should probably be leaving since, by this time, BOTH of the witches were screaming bloody black Sabbath curses at the top of their pretty lungs. I ‘hastened’ Jimbo’s attempts to get dressed, threw a wad of cash at the honeys and waltzed myself and Jim right out of there and grabbed a cab. There! And that’s The Truth!
(B) The Burlesque Theater, Blaze Starr! —
Ya gotta remember; wherever The Doors went/played, Jim (and myself, watching his back) would routinely seek out the REAL PEOPLE of America. He and I both admired Eric Hoffer and Studs Terkel. He had disdain for the phony intellectuals, gab-happy, super hip disc jockeys and all the rest of the phony hangers-on that always tried to populate any event that was associated with ‘the band of the moment.’ At least the groupies were honest about their reason for being there and there’s a purity of purpose in that. For the ‘super hip insiders’ that always had to be seen with every headlining band that shows up, you kinda get the feeling that these leeches seek spillover fame borne of association rather than deed. ANYWAY, Jim (and I) liked to find the regular, real, everyday people. THEY would tell ya the TRUTH! In the course of this, he and I also observed that we liked drinkin’ and watching gorgeous women take off their clothes; makes sense to me still! So we often found the strip clubs all over the country, wherever the tour gigs took us. It was incredibly relaxing for him, even though many people did recognize him. Jim had that remarkable ability to just be a reg’lar guy, hangin’ with reg’lar folks, yakin’ ’bout reg’lar stuff. It was a tonic that made his soul feel at peace.
As we were heading toward Baltimore/DC for a gig, he mentioned on the plane or in the limo that he wanted to go to this famous burlesque theater where the legendary Blaze Starr still appeared as the headline act. He knew of her other notoriety as the paramour of Huey P. Long, and that also drove his interest. I think he saw some parallel in the negative notoriety she and Huey Long had stirred up as somehow similar to his own bad press.
Anyway, in we go, it was not the opulent palace of pleasure like they build today. It was, after all, BALTIMORE a city that hadn’t seen a new brick since Jesus was a baby! The theater had once been a premier Vaudeville venue, but had been raking in volumes of cold cash based on the headlines and ‘headlights’ of Blaze Starr for the years since Vaudeville. The clientele was a tough crowd and I could touch the cold and clammy fabric of prejudicial dislike the staff AND customers had for the ‘hippie’ and the ‘nigar.’ But my buddy wanted to hang, so I flashed a wad of tip cash to the manager and bouncers, allowing them to figure out if they could use the c-notes I was offering or settle for a shitload of broken teeth and bones if they touched my little buddy. They took the tip money.
With THAT settled, Jim and I bellied up to the bar, ordered, and started getting the smart comments from other besotted bozos at the bar. Some I bought off; the rest I left bruises on their upper arms from my grip as I leaned over and handed them a folded c-note to drink with and requested a little peace for my long-haired buddy. Jim MAY have been aware of how I did my job, but he never paid any attention to it. He just knew he was safe with me present and that was enough.
Anyway, Blaze Starr gave him a “hello” as she breezed past us, and we had an all-around great time. The OTHER dancers there were a little more friendly, but they had to make their dough and Jimbo (and I) didn’t look like we were going to fork over tons of dough just for the hell of it. It was a rough neighborhood but so is South Central LA where I grew up. Besides, I had bail and lawyers ready for anything.
(C) The Poetry Lady in Denver —
When we did the Denver gig it was at the D.U. Arena, and as always, it was just an incredible show.
The rest of The Doors went back to LA early the next morning, but Jim wanted to cruise around Denver for a bit to relax. He mentioned that a lady had gotten a few pages of poetry to him and he wanted to get in contact with her and possibly meet and chat with her.
Some of the promoter, Barry Fey’s people guided us around town and we had some killer pizza at a straight-ahead hippie pizza palace called “Straight Johnson’s.” We also visited (Harry Tufts’) The Denver Folklore Center on 17th Ave., where we shopped and visited with everybody that walked in the door as well as the really great folks that worked there. I bought SO MANY collector blues albums that I ran out of cash and Jimbo put the (several boxes) of albums on his credit card for me ’till we got back to LA.
After the folklore center, we headed over to the home of the lady in question. I went up to the door with him just in case and when she answered the door and I felt there was no threat, I told him to go ahead, I’d be waiting in the car. They spent hours in there and I could see them in the living room through the open drapes/window. It was so very peaceful and serene compared to the glare of the usual media circus of a lot of gigs; this was who the man really was. This was the Jim Morrison I knew. When they had finished their conversation they came out; she thanked me for being so patient (actually, I was stoned-zoned on some killer herb one of Barry’s folks had laid on me: What is time?) and we headed to the airport rental car return.
Her home was in the Park Hill neighborhood, big lawn, two story, looked to have been built in the 30s or so, immaculately maintained and very quiet. Jim enjoyed the encounter with her. I did not get an inkling of romantic interest being displayed by either of them for each other, just a couple of intellects that appeared to have traded observations on common topics. Almost scholarly is how I’d put it.
Recently I was speaking to one of Jim’s friends who told me that Morrison had done a fair bit of traveling, including following Alexander the Great’s route in India. Can you verify this as being true ?
Tony: Yeah, he DID do that a lot, although he/we/the group respected that as private time’ for him and I didn’t go with him. I did meet him wherever he re-entered the country. He and I also did take side trips within the U.S. from time to time.
In Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison you were called to break up a fight between Jim Morrison and Tom Baker (Jim’s actor friend / drinking buddy) shortly after Jim was acquitted of all charges in the Phoenix trial. What really happened that day?
Tony: Baker always WAS a pain-in-the-ass, ANY time he showed up. The rest of us just left him alone since he was Jim’s ‘pal’ but there was no love lost between him and the rest of the Doors or the extended Doors’ family. That being said, Baker MAY have been brilliant in his intellect, but he was an unbearable obnoxious ASSHOLE in the way he EXPRESSED that brilliance. The times I was around the schmuck I wanted to dust him right off but he was Jim’s pal and that wouldn’t have been a good thing to do. Babe didn’t put up with his shit either, so they actually got along. Babe was under no constraint as I was, personal dislike trumps professionalism.
Jim (as has been widely reported) actually did take the heat for the (Baker inspired) Phoenix airplane altercation. He did pay all of Baker’s bills having to do with that and Baker, on that particular day, had gotten wasted on ‘whup ass’ booze and decided to bark at Jim. Seems he was troubled at having to be grateful for the help!
Anyway, his mouth overloaded his ass. Jim had enough and told Baker and his Bud to split from the office. Baker had a head full of 86 proof saying he didn’t have to. Jim shoved Baker towards the 2nd story stairs door, Baker got froggish and I grabbed Baker in one hand, his Bud in the OTHER hand and tossed ’em out the door. The 2nd story steps went straight down to a left-turn landing. Baker charged the steps, Jim smacked him and I pounded his pal for the fun of it while I admired Jimbo do the pugilist bit (pretty well!) on Baker.
Then the sheriff’s car drove up. I think Babe got a couple licks in, I can’t really remember. My job was to make sure Jimbo “Golden Throat” didn’t (A) suffer any damage and (B) suffer any legal repercussions.
After I encouraged everybody to get calm, the sheriff’s dudes instructed Baker to split or be arrested for trespassing. Baker and friend took the cops advice, and the rest of us went to the Phone Booth and Barney’s. Big fun actually, an enjoyable farce of a brawl. Baker and friend were treated with kid gloves compared to what I would have done if nobody had been looking. I mean, nobody had to go to the emergency room to get bones set or stuff like that.
As stoned or drunk as I got while on this gig, I NEVER lost track of what the primary job responsibility was and the Objective to be accomplished; let Jimbo relax and be himself, keep nut-cases from disturbing that serenity, and MANGLE ANYTHING THAT KEPT ME FROM DOING IT. I wasn’t famous for my sense of humor.
To be continued…