Interview with Tony Funches, Jim Morrison’s bodyguard part 2

Continued from part 1….

What was Jim’s mood before the Miami proceedings began?

Tony: Hard read on that. Like anyone else, he steeled himself for the worst, had confidence in his attorneys Max Fink and Associates (Beverly Hills) and Paul Josephson (Miami). These were two high powered/juiced law firms and I immediately thought he would walk on the basis of the legal beagles alone. But there were ominous clouds on that horizon. Moby Grape … “Murder In My Heart for the Judge” … good tune. The judge was hand picked to run this circus in an orderly fashion while ensuring key legal moves benefited the prosecution. Very low key. I got this ‘Intel’ from Max and Paul as opportunities became available to converse with them in an intelligent dialogue. Anyway, the entire ‘trial’ story is extremely lengthy.

Did he ever discuss whether he actually was guilty of indecent exposure?

Tony: Yeah, in a distracted ‘observer on the state of artistic expression’ kinda viewpoint. Of course, it’s human nature to rationalize mistakes made and whether or not he actually did the dastardly deed, (he didn’t), it was OBVIOUS that ‘The Censors’ would pull the ‘Janet Jackson fainting spell’ and ‘shit green biscuits’ over such depravity. He (and The REST of us) all saw his prosecution as politically motivated and that the nude scene from “Hair,” Lenny Bruce’s ability to perform, and every performing artist, recording artist and writer on the horizon could be jailed for any variation of the twisted moral (non) logic driving this “SHOW” trial.

Apart from that, he did mention in passing that imprisonment would not kill him (mebbe would) and could provide a wealth of material for writing topics to delve into, again seeing himself more as an observer as opposed to activist. I am sure that Jim was human enough to have trepidation over the negatives of imprisonment and he was also human enough to be prepared to make the most of it. When it was discussed, he spoke of it in these kinds of terms.

Did he receive the support of the other Doors or were they angry over the lost revenue and canceled tour?

Tony: John had problems only with the tension which always surrounded any of Jim’s well-publicized antics. I never saw Ray or Robby upset or snarl and bark at Jim over the whole thing. Overall, they remained VERY COHESIVE as a unit. Sure, they all felt the dread of the unknown as far as where the Doors’ career would be steered towards as a result of the trial, but no more so than any family worries over a member of that family unit being charged with any “crime.” Actually, IN FACT, The Doors utilized the superior group intellect which they possessed, and did several innovative things, both before and after the Miami beef came about…

They had formed the Doors as a four way partnership, with the Doors owning all the material they recorded as the Doors and all shared responsibility in management matters. And while Bill Siddons and Bob Greene did excellent jobs in the management/financial areas, it was the Doors that made command decisions after all the info and options were researched and laid out. When Jim’s bust made them unbookable to the tepid (promoters), they pioneered the business practice of booking/promoting their OWN shows, usually with local promoters acting as the leg-man/local contact. They were the first to do this; now it’s standard industry practice.

Who was on the jury? What was the judge like?

Tony: The FARCE of the modern-day. “Poker faced” attorneys (them vs. us) doing the exclusion bit, in order to stack the jury, was very much in full force. Accordingly, Florida was better known for racial tolerance then than it is now. Almost EVERY LAST registered voter called for jury duty was your standard WASP cardboard cut-out. I say ALMOST, because of one elderly black gentleman who was among the potential jurors seated in the courtroom. As the judge and attorneys yakked over a plethora of legal mumbo-jumbo, with motions and research recitations lasting for days on end, the potential jurors had nothing to do but observe the comings and goings of the players, the cops, the entourage, and the media types. Given my height, size and appearance, they were able to reasonably extrapolate that I was there for specific purposes on behalf of the Doors and/or James Douglas Morrison, the accused.

The elderly black gentleman and I did make eye contact and seldom allowed that to be obvious to others for obvious reasons. This man, while elderly, was tall, relatively slender for his age (60 – 70ish …), had very sharp features and such ELECTRIC INTENSITY of intelligence in his eyes. Max Fink and Paul Josephson KNEW this guy would get the ax from the prosecutors. It took them several days to get around to it, but when they DID exclude him from the jury pool he gave me a quick, sharp glance, nodded ever-so-slightly and left the court room with a flourish of dignified grace…possibly making his statement on the whole mess in the only manner afforded him. What did this guy LOOK like? Go with Albert King’s twin brother with a different hair style. I think he was retired military, but that’s really stretching for this senile memory I wound up with….

In terms of demographics, the rest of the jury pool read like a cross between The Stepford Wives (and husbands) vs. Ward and June Cleaver. WASP City. Gee, lemme see … NOTHING like Florida and Miami these days and during the 2000 elections; sweep all the black folks off the voter rolls … Dangit! Couldn’t be deja-vu all over again … While the backgrounds were all over the map, the opposing attorneys had to do some serious work to get (deliberative proclivities) out of the jurors and what they wanted in terms of guessing how they would go when it came time for The Verdict.

How was Jim affected by the verdict?

Tony: Expected disappointment. Idealists hope justice will prevail according to the Constitution, realists know the f***ing bastards will bury us all after a miserable life of subjugation to the great economic power of the middle class, as directed by the ruling class. Apart from that, Jim could be the quintessential stoic in seeing himself and how he chose to fit in (and out) of this great society. He knew the odds from the get-go. Outside of his own extrapolative intellect, he was also briefed extensively (as were all the Doors) on possible outcomes. Max and Paul were better than Atticus Finch and Clarence Darrow in my mind … and he knew that the Warren court could do what Nixon couldn’t dream of, adhere to the Constitution. Getting to that point through the appeals process could drive a sane person wacko …

In photos from the trial, Jim was often seen writing in a notebook and was later quoted as saying he hoped to publish a book on the experience. Did you ever see the manuscript or his notes? What became of it?

Tony: No, I considered his notebook as private and intended to demonstrate that it REMAIN so. After all, I’d be a sorry excuse as bodyguard/companion/friend if I was looking over his shoulder while he scribbled away. When other conversation topics arose which dealt with this farce, he did mention that he had “made a note” and we let it be with that. Jim had quite often kept various notebooks close by for scribbling down flashes or deliberations he had been processing into the format he wanted before he put pen-to-paper … refining his thoughts/observations as most writers do. I have no idea what became of ANY of his original manuscripts over the years we spent together … I can only assume that his family should have wound up with them …

Do you remember Patricia Kennealy visiting Jim during the trial? If so was he happy to see her?

Tony: No he wasn’t, but given the gravity of the trial atmosphere, even Jimbo subconsciously held “the lizard brain” in check and put up with her. Nobody could stand the bitch, to tell the truth … but Jim made his own way with whatever women popped up and the rest of us showed sufficient cordiality to avert meltdowns that could be blown up and out of proportion while the trial dragged on. We were ALL on our collective best behavior by obvious and imminent necessity … And bear in mind, The Doors and Jim were getting far too much press ink, and that ink clearly made it plain to the world that Jim, Ray, Robby, and John were there in Miami for several MONTHS, so anyone wanting to show up could arrive in Miami, get the buzz of the street or the local paper where the Doors were staying, and descend on The Carillon to await the age-old ambush. I had much of THAT handled, but certain “tactics” certainly could not be deployed to prevent the serious pain-in-the-ass types from “being there.” We managed it as well as the circumstances allowed within the parameter of: “NO BAD PRESS!”

Juggling the Pam and Patricia Circus was a bit dicey for all of us, more so for Jimbo … he adopted the old “Stoic” stance while Pam and Pat spit up hair balls … As far as Kennealy being there, EVERYONE just tried to avoid her as much as possible. Period. Me too, within professional responsibility. While/when she was present, Jim just kinda quietly disappeared with her, and the rest of us just figured “as long as he’s happy and has peace of mind….”

What did he do in Miami when he wasn’t in court? Was he able to have any fun besides the side trip to the Bahamas?

Tony: We alternately did all the “entertainment options” Dade County afforded us, from quiet dinners in the hotel to sampling the local “ethnic cuisine,” drinks (in moderation and full tilt), movies, concerts, the glorious ladies of these-here U-Nited States, boating (the great water skiing event …), and exploring the city nightlife. Everybody knows about The Hump Room and Canned Heat. I don’t know if it was the Bahamas, or exactly when it occurred, but I THINK that during a few days’ break in the pre-trial attorney sparring, the rest of the entourage went home to LA including me, while Jim went on a short hop to South America to visit with some brilliant authors (Gabriel Marquez?) and to just chill out alone. I had tried to insist that I REALLY should go with him. This was no time to risk ANYTHING happening, but Jimmy put me at ease and quietly said he was going to do this alone. So I went back to LA with the rest of The Doors entourage and relaxed/prepared to return to Armpit City, a.k.a Miami.

A few days later Bill Siddons and Ray called me at home in Venice, saying get my buns to the office A.S.A.P. I hauled serious ass to 8512 (address of the office), saw a limo in the parking lot, went upstairs and they filled me in. I suspect Max and Paul had intel from within Fed/Florida law enforcement that Jim was gonna be rousted and hassled when he re-entered the US, which would be at the Miami Customs entry point. I was informed that all arrangements were in place, get to Miami Airport Customs Entry Point and MAKE SURE NOBODY (whatsoever) either busted Jim’s chops or worse, PLANTED any drugs on him. It was common cop practice then, it’s still common cop practice now.

Our regular Dav-El Limousines driver (can’t remember his name, guy was absolutely great!) buried the speedo down La Cienega to the airport. VIP rush through to the plane’s 1st Class section. I already had info on navigating to the Customs checkpoint and went there as soon as my plane’s doors opened. My info said Jim would come in on a certain flight at a certain time and that was correct. As usual, I scoped out “the suits” and “under covers,” catalogued them as they took notice of me and we all waited.

When I saw him, he saw me and we both smiled. He was walking with the rest of the passengers. As “the suits” moved in, identified themselves to take Jim away “to be searched,” three took up positions around me (pipsqueaks!). I started raising 18 versions of holy hell, called (per prior instructions) Paul Josephson, then Max Fink, The Doors Office, Leon Barnard (I think …) and got ready to do SERIOUS BATTLE; I knew my legal/bail back was covered and these schmucks were f***ing around with my BUD! “Let’s Get Busy!”

One of the fresh-faced young scrubbed Fed types waltzed over to me while I and his pals got ready to rumble, and calmly assured me that (A) they were not going to do anything but the required non-invasive strip search, which was stated to be standard when an accused felon returns to the US from an out-of-country origin point, and (B) that they would insure his safety (no drugs planted on him) while conducting the search, provided he cooperated, and (C) if he chose NOT to cooperate, they would statutorily have to incarcerate him, and (D) I should not start pounding on Fed Law Enforcement “just doing their jobs” or I would do time as well.

My response was (A) I shall require, within the discharge of my duties, to be in very close proximity to Mr. Morrison while this takes place as a representative of his office and company (Doors Music, Inc.) as well as in the capacity of observer on behalf of Max Fink and Associates of Beverly Hills and the law offices of Paul Josephson, Miami. I was accommodated in this matter and Jim was smart enough to know the Doors and attorneys had me armed with the resources to keep any shit from going down. So he submitted to the bit, mainly because he was not surprised by it at all, and was intelligent enough to know that this was not the time or place to engage the enemy in battle.

The tension of it did affect him, and after the Feds had delivered him to me, he had to vent that tension … Poor Jimbo unfortunately chose a curiously offensive method. After we walked ’bout a hundred yards down the long hall, he started talking about the heavy hand of Fed/Establishment oppression on the people of the entire planet, likening it to slave master’s merciless oppression of my ancestors. He then bounced down the hall and shouted to no one in particular “Get Me A Nigger To Carry My Bags!”

I dropped his bags, reached out with my right hand, grabbed his neck, shoulder and arm in it, lifted him up close to me and advised him that his choice of metaphor could stand some revision … He apologized and I took it in good faith. He had NEVER before displayed the effects of the intense scrutiny and pressure he was under, and I understood. We BOTH forgot about it as soon as it happened. I had always known Jim couldn’t tolerate racism and never had a prejudiced bone in his body. These things I didn’t so much hear as I observed during the time I spent with the Doors and Family. I knew it was his way of venting, and customarily Morrison-esque in the expression thereof.

If Jim was not racist, then why are there several accounts (notably in A Morrison, a Feast of Friends) of Jim using “nigger”? Was it just to get a rise out of people?

Tony: Curiously, from my viewpoint it would be easy to be all over both sides of that question. At the time I came to be known in the business, few (if any) black folks had anything to do in the business at all. Some closet racist execs quickly figured out that little white kids could be intimidated by the presence of big black guys, so many were hired to foster that kind of mis-begotten dread in place of intelligently thought-out security measures that I had devised and implemented. Donnie Branker, who drafted me into the rock and roll business saw it correctly and any success I had was/is a direct result of Donnie observing that I knew what I was doing.

Jim was raised in a racist household, in a racist state where an ENTIRE BLACK AMERICAN COMMUNITY WAS BURNED OUT in the early 20th century. Most of the inhabitants were murdered by the mob of rampaging Whites, and the Rosewood Community ceased to exist. That’s where Jim came from, and he MAY HAVE, on occasion, blurted out some of that vile venom without forethought. He actually saw Black Americans much the same as he saw the Native Americans, as ethnic victims of applied genocide (his term, and I’ve adopted it …) and I do hereby go on record as stating categorically, that James Douglas Morrison was not a racist and I should know. I was his (close contact) bodyguard for a number of years and I am a sentient adult black American male with a smattering of observational skills.

Jim could be known to say a lot of things to see the reaction of those he suspected of having underlying motives … As I’ve said before, Jim could read deep into people’s character and know their deepest secret fears … and also what really made the person “tick” … if he used “the magic word” for that purpose, I was never aware of it.

Going back to his trip to South America, do you remember exactly which countries he went to or what authors he contacted?

Tony: I think the author was Gabriel Marquez, who later won a Pulitzer and/or another equally renowned literary award, and I think the country was Chile … although this is strictly remembrance of an event so long ago, I could be wrong … I am sure there are others that can correct me if I didn’t get this part correct. Anyway, as we made our way back to LA, we did small talk about everything under the sun … and he did expand a (little) bit about his vacation/trip … he was very impressed by the content of the work of his friend/author Gabriel Marquez, and he felt a “simpatico” kindred spirit with Marquez and other authors who saw the inexorable march of the conservative right swallowing countries and cultures on a global scale … at least, that’s what he and I agreed on as the plane flew and we drank … and talked ….

After Miami, the Doors got a lot of bad press. Did they ever fall out of favor in the public eye?

Tony: Not within the context of the TRUE Doors fans … “the fluff” were/are/will always BE GADFLYS, running from fad to fad. True Doors fans were true Doors fans then and still are now. Actually, the proportional mix changed; some were “shocked and amazed.” “Mildred! cover the children’s EYES!” and their kids had to appear to go along, while secretly still identifying with the rebellion represented by the questions put forth by the Doors. Other segments ALREADY KNEW that Jim might be capable of testing boundaries never imagined. Whatever he discovered when traversing said boundary would then be NEW insights on/in reality and the rest of us just said; “Rock on, Holmes” ….

Would you say Jim felt like a has-been and no longer relevant…

Tony: Not at all. He WAS “tired” of being in “The Maelstrom” non-stop for that (seemingly long) number of years … AND he was growing more restless to complete the metamorphosis from Doors singer to the long delayed true status of “metaphysical inquisitor” and poet and the “simple life” that status could promise.

…or did he feel successful in accomplishing what he could and ready to move on to something new?

Tony: Yes he did regarding what the Doors could accomplish, in terms of stating the things that they were able to convey by means of simply being The Doors. That success actually still “surprised” them a bit. The Doors KNEW they were completely different from anything that had come before and also knew that others could never duplicate what they were doing. Jim AND the rest of the Doors likewise knew it couldn’t/wouldn’t last FOREVER, the others were looking for a “more orderly” transition … and Jim wasn’t a MBA/planning absolutist … but, yeah, Jim was tiring of The Lizard King circus. The rest of the guys knew it and they all knew it would/should end at SOME point in time ….

Jim published several poetry books after Miami. What were his writing habits like?

Tony: He usually wrote a lot when he was alone, which was often. He and I both knew when he wanted to just chill-out, whether in his hotel room while we were traveling or when we were at home for that matter. Sometimes he would scribble down a few lines in one of his notebooks as a thought occurred to him where ever we were for reflection and editing later, but REAL writing was usually done when he was alone.

Many of his songs and poems had been written before or early in the Doors career. Did his abilities diminish because of his lifestyle and drinking?

Tony: I am not judgmental, nor am I anywhere CLOSE to being a “Critic.” So with that said, Hell NO! As experiences, maturity and years under the belt add up, many things become more clear. He GREW ….

Did you ever see Jim do any drugs? Heroin?

Tony: Did I SEE him do drugs? I HAD TO: I was doing them WITH HIM! Heroin? Never, hated the stuff, we both despised it. We stayed happy with toot, weed and booze … mebbe a “strange” pill here and there.

Was it common knowledge that Pam had a heroin addiction?

Tony: Yup. You’d have a better chance of hiding a buffalo in a tube sock….

How did you find out Jim was going to France? Were his plans long term or was he expected to come back to LA?

Tony: He and I had discussed it, as passing chat when times were otherwise quiet; eating in restaurants, going here and there in cabs, limos or rental cars; idle chat kinda stuff. Jim, Ray and Siddons had been informally talking “around” it for several months, though nothing was concrete. I had accepted the job in Denver with Barry Fey and went there on the 4th of July to get started while also attending to any Doors gigs simultaneously. It was very quiet toward the end of those days. It just “wound down.”

Was he even legally allowed to leave the country?

Tony: Max Fink and Paul Josephson (Jim’s lawyers) were nobody’s punks; answer is yes.

It was suggested to me by someone that Jim left the country to avoid going to jail. Would you agree?

Tony: No. Ridiculous, never hinted, mentioned it to any of us who knew him as much as a “loner genius” CAN BE “known” by contemporaries…. After he left, we know that the Doors continued to rehearse without him. Was it their intention all along to release an album without Jim? Not as far as I knew but I wasn’t really privy to those deliberations, if they took place at all…and the rest of the guys knew of my “affinity” with Jim, so I doubt they would have wanted to discuss the topic while I was present.

Did the office stay up and running after Jim left?

Tony: Yes, there was THE BUSINESS of the Doors that continued: royalties, negotiations of possible gigs, taxes, investments, payroll records, all those continuing tasks that any business must attend to, albeit on a lesser scale.

For myself, I went off weekly payroll and on a per gig basis when I moved to Denver with Barry. I will say that the Doors did pay me VERY WELL for accomplishing my duties, keeping Jim out of trouble! I did that and was paid accordingly.

Please describe the last time you saw him? Actually tell us about the first time too (I never asked!)

First Time: Bill Siddons picked me up from the offices at West Coast Productions, where I had been Chief of Security and we went to lunch. Bill did his spiel, and offered the gig; keep Jim out of trouble … after that, we went over to the Doors’ office and went upstairs. Ray and Robby were optimistic (with reservations) that I would be a god fit; everybody in the LA music business knew me, my reputation, what I had ALREADY done (Keith Richards?) and all that … so … after a while, Jim wanders in and we are re-introduced to each other while Ray and Bill rattle off that I will be available to keep people from “hassling” Jim. He thinks ’bout it and says “Sure, why not?” Jim suggested we take a walk and get to know each other a little better, across the street to the Phone Booth, where we DID talk and drink and romance strippers and share a line or three … and that was it! He relaxed, I was ALREADY relaxed and everybody ELSE relaxed.

Last Time: right after The Isle of Wight gig, we were staying to catch Hendrix, The Who and the rest (gig ran WAY LATE) and just reminiscing … and he reminded me that he and Pam were gonna be hangin’ out in Paris. I re-iterated that I thought he would do well to have me there for a LITTLE while as he settled in. He said, “Nah, it’s different there and I’ll be ok.” I let it go at that. We looked straight at each other, alone in the backstage crowd, shook hands, and walked. I made sure he got off ok at Heathrow and then I found a honey, got stinkin’ drunk and went back to Denver three days later.

How did you find out about his death?

Tony: Bill Siddons called Barry Fey’s office in Denver and told me. I was ready to drop everything and get on a plane but Bill said there was nothing I could do, it was all over and done. I took a few days off.

How do you think he died?

Tony: I did suspect that SOMETHING was Way-The-F***-Wrong immediately. The f***er had the constitution of a f***ing HORSE! The booze and drugs we had done, and the guy never even showed a hint of any health problems. There was no way to prove Nixon’s Goons didn’t croak him (I still think they did) but when The “Pam smack-factor” evolved into it, which was palpable to the world at large….

What should fans and non-fans alike know about Jim Morrison?

Tony: We’ll part company if you don’t tell the story of who the MAN was, a reg’lar guy! A genius, yes. But, more than anything, he was just a reg’lar guy who loved being with regular, real PEOPLE.

 

 

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