January Jansen Best friends with rock legend Jim Morrison, Jansen provides a snapshot of their private lives on the road.
By Francis J. DiScala Jr. & Johnny Jet
I met January when he was working as a chef at
Cavallo Point in late 2008. Sadly, he passed away in 2010.
His steel-blue eyes still glimmer mischievously, fueled by outrageous and historic memories of living through the '60s as Jim Morrison's best friend, chef, clothing designer, and wingman. And maybe his eyes shine partly because they are brimming with gratitude for knowing when to quit, when to put down the bottle, and when to nestle into a life that Jim never lived long enough to experience. "I quit drinking 20 years ago to keep my wife, and it probably saved my life."
Bona fide designer of Jim's snakeskin pants, amongst many other pieces of stage wear, January, born Jan, adopted Jim's nickname for him. "Jim always had a notepad. He was constantly writing in that book. I have [lots] of unpublished material and plenty of his clothing. He was my closest friend. We were inseparable and even looked alike." He points to a photo of him next to Jim, both long-haired, slim, and great-looking.
Jan met Jim in a bar and they just hit it off. "Next thing I knew, we were traveling everywhere together." I was there when he wrote many of his songs. 'Riders on the Storm' he wrote in the back of a limo, and when we passed Hearst Castle he incorporated it."
Of course, Jim liked to stir the crowd. He was a real instigator. And when we ended up wrecking a place, it was me who would come back the next day to pay the tab.
Cops protected us, but never liked us much. We were the long-haired private jetters. And we had girls. So many. Sometimes we would take motel rooms side by side and the cops would be outside the doors. Jim would bang on the door and that would be our signal to go "fill the ice bucket." We would both be wearing leather pants and no shirt so that when we left our dates to go outside they wouldn't know that the person that just left them wasn't the person that had just returned. And most of the time they didn't care anyway."
January Jansen's memories and stories rolled from his smiling lips one after the other, full of detail and without hesitancy; the streets of New Haven, so many stages and parties, booze, drugs, and women.
He remembers that it was easy to cook for Morrison. "Mostly we had a liquid diet... Lots of wine."
And he remembered the time that January told Jim that he might want to slow down or he would die young. "No, January," Jim teased, "it will be you to die first. And when you do, I am going to piss and dance on your grave." But Jan knew he'd be the one left behind, pissing on Jim's grave.
Realizing he could not actually expose himself at Jim's grave, January developed an ingenious plan. Peeing all over the toilet and the towel rack at Hotel Plaza Athenee, he managed to barely fill two vials with urine. Then, on a cold day, he made his way to Jim's grave in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in eastern Paris. Accompanied by his wife of many years, he began to fulfill his promise to his friend.
With short gray hair and many intervening years shaping his appearance, January looked more like a priest, dancing and shaking his "holy water" all over Jim's final place of rest.
A crowd began to gather. "Honey, they think you are a priest! Why don't you tell them who you really are?"
"No thanks!" January told his wife. "I've had my clothes torn off enough for this lifetime."
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January & Jim
Jim Morrison's Grave
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