Jim Morrison: Leather Pants

Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist of The Doors, reminisced in a recent radio show how he helped Jim Morrison get leather pants. Ray recalled how Jim brought the subject up.

– I wanna wear leather pants.
– Why, man?
– Like Marlon Brando in The Fugitive Kind.
– Oh, I got you, like Marlon Brando snake-skin jacket?
– Exactly, man. I cannot afford a snake-skin jacket, but we can afford a pair of leather pants.
– Okay.
– Where can I get ‘em?
– God, you know, at a cowboy store? I don’t know where you get leather pants, Jim, but let me look around.

There was a leather shop in Beverly Hills, on Little Santa Monica Boulevard, kept by an old tailor from Germany. Ray went into the shop.

– Can you make leather pants?
– But of course I can make leather pants. That’s what I do here.
– Show me some leather.
– This is glove leather. Look at this, this is kid glove leather.

Ray felt the leather. It was the softest leather he had ever felt. In a little while, Ray returned to the shop with Jim.

– Feel this leather, man. Bring out that kid glove leather. Jim, look at this, man.
– This is perfect, this is it, man. This is soft, that’s what I want.
– I thought you wanted something like stiff kind of leather, like cow…
– I don’t want cow hide, man, I want this kid glove leather, that’s what I want.

Ray asked the tailor whether he could make a pair of pants out of the leather. The tailor was skeptical.

– That is for gloves! You do not make pants, why do you think it’s called glove leather? It’s kid glove leather. That’s for gloves. You cannot make pants out of it.

Jim insisted and the tailor agreed.

– Can’t you make me a pair of pants?
– Well, you know, I can. I’ve never done it… I can do it. I can work anything in leather. Let me take your measurements.

The tailor was in for another surprise.

– What kind of a cut do you like? You like this with a double pleat and do you like a lot of room and…
– No, no, no. Cut them like jeans. Cut my pants like Levi’s.
– What?! You want this finest leather cut like Levi’s? Like cowboy pants? What is the matter with you?
– That’s what I want.
– All right, I will do it. Come back in two weeks.

The tailor took Jim’s measurements and sure enough, in two weeks the leather pants were ready. Ray remembers being impressed.

– They were super. They just fit. They were like snake skin. He looked like a snake, man. He looked like a black mamba. He put on those leather pants and from the waist down he had turned into a black mamba. That was the beginning of the reign of Jim Morrison the sex symbol, Jim Morrison the sex idol, on stage, when he became the black mamba. That was it, man, it was all over. All the women who saw him just absolutely fell in love.

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