The Bizarre Story Of How Jim Morrison Got His Nickname ‘The Lizard King’

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Jim Morrison achieved fame thanks to his contribution to the Doors. Although he passed away at a young age, joining The 27 Club, his legacy lived on. He continues to inspire, educate, and set a musical example for other musicians, regardless of the genre.

Like many other rock and roll singers, Morrison also had a bizarre nickname. He was known as ‘The Lizard King,’ and it stuck with him when he entered the music world. It is curious for the fans as to why he would have such a bizarre name, not indicating anything in regards to his music or musical talents.

There have been a lot of theories as to why Morrison accepted and embraced this nickname. However, there are three highly possible theories, and we know what Morisson said about each of them.

What Are The Theories Around How Morrison Got His Nickname?

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The first theory is the assumption that Morrison went insane because of substance abuse and believed he could communicate with reptiles. He grew up in New Mexico, and there, he got familiar with reptiles such as lizards and snakes. When he grew up and got addicted to drugs and alcohol, he started claiming that he could speak to these lizards. The theory extends as Jim didn’t only talk to these creatures, but he could also control them using his mind.

The other theory that would make more sense as to why he invented this nickname is to have an alter ego on stage. Even though his talents are now evident to everybody, at the beginning of his career, he would feel insecure and shy whenever he would go on the stage. Because of his shyness, he decided to adopt a stage personality to overcome his insecurities. Because he grew up with reptiles, he felt comfortable adopting such a name, which gave him the confidence to perform.

What Did Morrison Say About The Theories?

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Morrison thought it was bizarre that people thought he went crazy after excessively using drugs and alcohol and saw hallucinations that gave him the nickname. In his 1970 poem that later became The Doors song, ‘Celebration of the Lizard,’ the lyrics state that he is the lizard king and is about to enter his birth town, which is Florida, also known for being a habitat for reptiles.

Here are what the lyrics state:

“I am the Lizard King / Retire now to your tents and to your dreams,

Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth, / I want to be ready.”

In a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, Morrison stated that he chose the nickname because it was catchy. He thought that it was ironic and simple, so people would quickly get used to it. However, he didn’t think fans would come up with theories questioning his sanity.

Here is what he said in the interview:

“I meant it ironically. Half tongue-in-cheek. It was an easy thing to pick up on. I just thought everyone knew it was ironic, but apparently, they thought I’m mad.

You can listen to ‘Celebration of the Lizard’ below.