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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Friday, February 24, 2017

What I Think About When I Think About Rockers' Sons

My involvement with the mystery of who and what Cliff Morrison is started with seeing him in concert in San Pedro, June 27, 2008. I went to the show not knowing the connection to the Jim Morrison rock legend and legacy. Morrison's a common name, so I didn't know Cliff Morrison was allegedly Jim Morrison's son until I spoke to Lorraine Widen, the woman who maintains Jim Morrison fathered her son. When I did I wandered into a rock 'n' roll wilderness. I was moved, not by the show, which was mediocre, but why this man (and his mother) waited nearly forty years to cash in on the Jim Morrison legacy, actual or otherwise?

Whether or not Cliff Morrison is the son of Jim Morrison is not for me to debate. I find nothing conclusive that is publicly or officially available. To research a definite answer is to get lost on the Internet following outdated click bait. My eyes detect a family resemblance between the men, but best available evidence is that there is no proven paternity. Widen said in 2010 that she sent a DNA sample to the Morrison family twenty years earlier and never received a response. Let us not pry further.

So let us set aside who Cliff Morrison's father is and focus on why he attempted belatedly to launch a career as "Jim Morrison's son." Why did this man come suddenly onto the music scene nearly forty years after Jim Morrison's death, and then just as suddenly return to the checkered life he apparently lived before? Posts on the Internet promise records and/or movies and/or TV--but it's all out of date and never comes to anything, a possible indication that there's little profit from any alleged Morrison connection. A 2010 brush with the law mentions a prior record, further indication of an unstable career and a life that was not always about making music.

One thing was very clear to me at that San Pedro concert: Cliff Morrison is no Jim Morrison. He never was and never will be a rock star, he just doesn't have the right factors needed to be one. The Doors' vocalist was a classic blues-rock shouter. The guy I saw in 2008 sang Doors songs but vocally resembled Blake Shelton. The show looked headed for some cheap bar where the talent's expected to sing covers for hours on end, just to keep the patrons drinking. Rock legends don't do shows like that.

Even if it's about the money--and all indications are, the money isn't there--why wait forty years? Maybe the answer lies in the very nature of identity. Let me compare another night, another show, another son of a rock star, and this one's paternity was not in doubt. Circa 2004 on the Sunset Strip, I saw A. J. Croce play guitar and sing introspective singer-songwriter fare like I saw his father Jim Croce do in the seventies. Making music well enough to make a living is one thing, but making music well enough to be a legend is another.

Having seen Jim Croce live, I experienced the way he filled the room with his working-man songs and stories. I mourned his death.The younger Croce was like every other singer-guitarist I've heard in every other bar--but Jim Croce was not. Seeing the son only refreshed my grief over the loss of the father.

I wanted to ask, "He's nothing like his father, and not in a good way, so why does he do it? He could distinguish himself in any number of ways, so why does he keep going the hardest route, the one that will forever brand him Jim Croce's son?" I met his mother Ingrid Croce at her restaurant in San Diego recently, and I mentally shut down. That question about her son was clouding my head and I couldn't ask it.

Maybe I can answer it myself. If you identify as a rock star's son, you'll be a rock star's son whether you sing rock or pump gas. You may as well sing. Your legacy may be to make music. It may be out of desperation but anything else may only be a desperate lie. Maybe it doesn't even really matter whether your father honestly was that particular rock star or not.


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