How It Happend

July 13, 2020

Kidnapping at the Castle

According to one-time Doors publicist, Danny Fields, Jim Morrison (right) "caused problems for everyone around him and set a new bar for 'assholism.'” Photo by Ida Miller.

The story of one strange night in Hollywood with Jim Morrison, Nico, Edie Sedgwick and a “kidnapper”

WHY DIDN’T JIM MORRISON and Danny Fields get along the publicist was instrumental in helping to make The Doors the top American band?

The simple answer, according to Fields more than 53 years later, is that “I kidnapped him.”

The complicated relationship started innocently enough.

New York-based Fields took in a Doors gig in San Francisco and he was appalled to see “trashy groupies” hanging all over the lead singer in the dressing room.

Fields asked Morrison if he’d like to meet Nico, best known as the former model/chanteuse on the Velvet Underground’s debut and who would be soon recording her second solo album The Marble Index for Elektra.

“He grunted ‘Okay,’” recalls Fields, who used to believe that he introduced Nico and Jim to each other for the first time, but has since learned that they had met at Andy Warhol’s Factory, of which he has no doubt.

Back in Los Angeles, Nico was staying with Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick at “The Castle,” an isolated mansion on Glendower Drive that didn’t have a working telephone in the Hollywood Hills overlooking Griffin Park, where rock bands of the day would often stay.

An already high Morrison agreed to follow Fields’s car along Sunset Boulevard. “I’m not used to driving in California. I’d look the rearview mirror and he’d duck into a parking spot. I thought, ‘Shit, I lost him.’ This was 1968. There were no cellphones. He was such a cunt.”

Once at the Castle, Nico and Morrison acted as if they were awkward teenagers, just staring at the floor. “They didn’t say a word,” says Fields, who sensed an intense sexual attraction between the beautiful couple, but couldn’t tell whether they had already met previously. “Neither would say, ‘Nice to see you again.’” Meanwhile, Sedgwick, who had been Fields’s roommate back in New York, found his hidden barbiturates hidden under a mattress. “Edie was like a bloodhound,” remembers Fields. “If there were drugs, she’d find them. He swallowed all of them with a quart of vodka.”

Looking to protect Elektra’s prime asset, Fields figured Morrison could easily get killed if he tried to drive those winding narrow roads, Fields snuck away from the castle to take the keys out of the ignition of Morrison’s car and hid them under the mat.

The Doors singer was in a rage and asked his minder for the car keys, and the publicist played dumb. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Later that night, Fields was awakened by Nico banging on his bedroom door of her yelling, “He’s going to kill me, he’s going to kill me.” Fields dismissed her story as nonsense and that she should let him sleep, which was futile. “I see Jim walking along the rooftop, stumbling.” Thankfully, the rest of the night simmered down.

The next day the rest of The Doors showed up at the house, but Fields, Morrison and Nico went swimming at a friend’s pool.

Fields notes that Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore didn’t care that Morrison received all the media attention because it made sense since he was the band’s front man.

Morrison remained pissed at Fields and demanded that Elektra owner Jac Holzman fire the publicist – to no avail, which further enraged the singer.

Back in New York, Fields recalls being in a limousine with a heavily drunk Morrison, Warhol and Steve Paul after a party at The Scene. “Jim didn’t like something and wanted a word with Jac.” The driver pulled over to a payphone, and he called Jac to see if it was all right to meet him at his apartment on 12th Street. “Jim vomited in the lobby and he told the doorman, ‘Tell Jac I was here.’”

Fields was eventually fired by the label’s art director, who had been promoted to general manager in January 1969 eleven months over nothing to do with Morrison.

A year after leaving the label, Fields was invited by Holzman to their holiday party at the Hilton.

“Morrison saw me, and demanded to Jac that he kick me out. Jac would not, and said ‘You’re both my invited guests.”

Fields notes that he and Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham once were on a panel telling rock ’n’ roll war stories, and they decided to pick somebody who was no longer alive. “I picked Morrison and he picked Brian Jones.”

Despite his reservations about him, Fields admits that Morrison really championed Nico and encouraged her to write her own songs, and his matchmaking instincts were correct in connecting Morrison and Nico, who in 1974 would call her fourth album The End, and the title track did justice to the 1967 Doors original. Fields doesn’t know if Nico had discussed with Morrison recording the song. Their relationship no doubt turned into a sexual, spiritual and poetic confrontation.

“Some of my favorite women friends were deeply in love with Jim,” says Fields, citing also 16 magazine editor-in-chief Gloria Stavers.

Fields acknowledges that Morrison was “a great star and a great talent,” but he caused problems everyone around him and set a new bar for “assholism.”


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