Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies


Ellen Badone




This thesis examines how American icons, such as Jim Morrison, become the focus of "secular" religious followings. Morrison died in Paris, France, in 1971. His grave site, in Paris, attracts thousands of visitors each year. As the lead singer of 1960s era band, The Doors, Morrison achieved extraordinary fame. Tiring of his rock star status, Morrison moved to Paris in 1971, where he died under mysterious circumstances at age 27.

After his death, Morrison remained a focus of popular biographies and films; many attributed mythic qualities to the dead singer. The continued interest in the celebrity of Morrison, following his death, generated much popularity among a new generation of fans.

The motivation for visiting the Morrison grave, in Paris, is not only the music of Morrison or the Doors. Rather, fans gather in Paris each year to remember Morrison as cultural hero and the values he represents: freedom and rebellion against authority.

An ethnography in Paris completed during the anniversary of his death, July 3, supplements an analysis of the subculture surrounding Morrison. A wider conclusion concerning the purpose of dead celebrity followings, in contemporary society, is a final focus.

McMaster University Library

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