Pardon Jim Morrison, But Penalize Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin

Jim Morrison performing in Miami, March 1, 1969

At the time of his death in a Paris bathtub in the summer of 1971, James Douglas Morrison, singer and lyricist for epochal L.A. band The Doors, was looking at six months' hard labor in Florida. Among other offenses at a March, 1969 performance at Dinner Key Auditorium, a bellicose and profoundly drunk Morrison allegedly wagged his penis at 13,000 assembled rock freaks, none of whom bothered to snap a picture or could say with complete certainty they actually saw it happen. Self-made notoriety and a rock-hating mainstream culture made Jim a poor client, and a Miami jury had no problem at all finding him guilty of indecent exposure and profanity. This week, lame-duck governor Charlie Crist burst forth with the astonishing news that he's seeking a posthumous pardon for Crazy Jim's forty year-old misdemeanor.

At first, one is tempted to dismiss a story like that as another in a long series of newsfeed WTFs — a late parable on how slowly and with what sawtoothed imprecision grinds the law. Still, what are pardons for even rock's most infamous crimes if there aren't occasionally penalties for even the most ancient? With Jake Holmes' lawsuit against Led Zeppelin winding through the courts, we — and Jimmy Page — might well find out. In 1967, San Francisco-born Jake Holmes was a struggling singer-songwriter at the scrag end of the folk-rock boom. His “Dazed and Confused” off The Above Ground Sound is startlingly close to a composition of the very same name off Led Zeppelin's debut LP, released in 1969 and credited solely to Jimmy Page.

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