The "Young Lion" photographs of Jim Morrison are indelible. The mere mention of the singer's name conjures the image of a bare-chested Morrison, arms stretched out at both sides as if he is sacrificing himself for his music, staring directly into the camera - dark, mysterious and brooding.
In 1967, a young photographer from Brooklyn, Joel Brodsky, was under contract with Elektra Records to photograph an up and coming rock group from Los Angeles, The Doors. Two memorable photo shoots yielded highly iconic images of the band and its leader, Jim Morrison.
The first photo shoot produced the Grammy nominated back cover photograph that is used on the band's debut album, The Doors.
The second photo shoot gave birth to the legend of the Lizard King. Brodsky took several photographs of the entire band before spending a fair amount of time with its inebriated lead singer.
Brodsky recalled the unforgettable photo shoot many years later: "The Doors were among the brighter groups I'd shot at that point. They had a visual orientation and seemed to understand the potential of a good photo session. Initially, there seemed to be a little jealously that Morrison was being put so up front in the photos, but basically the others understood that Jim was the sex symbol and an important visual focus for the band."
The series of black and white photos of Jim Morrison would later be known as the "Young Lion" photo session. This particular collection of photographs has been used as covers for compilation albums, books, and other memorabilia of The Doors and Jim Morrison.
Brodsky remembered photographing the Lizard King: "I always thought it was sort of funny that the pictures of Morrison from that session were the most used. Jim was totally plastered. The session started out normally....The shot on the inner sleeve of the Greatest Hits album was pretty near the end, I think. By that time, he was so drunk he was stumbling into the lights and we had to stop the session. He wasn't a wild drunk - actually he was kind of quiet - but his equilibrium wasn't too terrific. Still, he was great to photograph because he had a very interesting look."
One of the photos taken from the "Young Lion" sessions was published in the Village Voice and apparently the publication was inundated with requests for the picture. Joel Brodsky wasn't a fan of the music he shot, but he knew that his photographs of Morrison were indeed iconic: "You know, Morrison never really looked that way again, and those pictures have become a big part of The Doors' legend. I think I got him at his peak."
His son-in-law Sid Holt, a former managing editor of Rolling Stone, said, "I never actually heard him listen to the music he shot. He didn't particularly like The Doors."
Along with his legendary photographs of The Doors - the award winning cover of Strange Days, and the jackets of The Soft Parade and the Greatest Hits album - other memorable photographs taken by Joel Brodsky include: the cover for Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, MC5's Kick Out the Jams, and the debut albums from The Stooges and KISS.