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Gilles et Jim

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This is a story of two encounters, first mine with Gilles Yepremian and why it almost didn’t happen, and the second one, the more important one, the one people want to hear about, Gilles’ encounter with Jim Morrison.

For those of you who don’t recognize Gilles name right away, he met Jim Morrison in Paris at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus in 1971. I’d heard that Gilles was planning on being in Paris at various events in connection with the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death, naturally enough I wanted to interview him for a Doors Examiner article.

I arrived in Paris on July 2nd, I was supposed to meet Gilles at the Lezard King Bar that evening, first I went to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery Souvenir Shop to make arrangements for a book signing and then I went to the bar next to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery where a lot of the Paris pilgrims to Morrison’s grave hung out. I was looking for people I knew. No one was there, I sat down and was trying to think of what I should do next. While I was sitting there a man dressed in black with thinning white hair in a small pony tail came up to me and asked if I was Jim Cherry, I said I was, he introduced himself, he said he was jeels. There needs to be an aside here, I’m American, I’ve always thought the name Gilles was pronounced with a gi sound like in giant, so I’ve always pronounced Gilles, jaisles, I never put together this was who I was supposed to interview! I had missed the connection to the interview and I didn’t even know it!

The next afternoon was the book signing at the Pere Lachaise Souvenir Shop. I asked Agnes, the owner of the shop, who knew Gilles that I had missed the interview, when I pronounced his name in my American parlance she didn’t recognize the name, then it dawned on her who I was talking about and she told me how to pronounce Gilles’ name, I immediately realized my mistake, and set about kicking myself for not realizing my mistake! There wasn’t much time because the book signing was about to start. About 15 minutes into the signing Agnes handed me her cell phone telling me it was Gilles. I talked to Gilles for about a minute apologized for our missed connection. Gilles said he had some time and he would come to the souvenir shop, I was going to get the interview after all!

Gilles came over to the souvenir store, he was a very soft spoken man and we sat down outside the shop and talked about his meeting Jim Morrison. Gilles was at the Rock ’n’ Roll Circus, a club famous for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Cream playing there (among others). At first all Gilles sensed was a presence, a shadow in the club that seemed to be crying, he wasn’t at first cognizant of who it was, just its existence. As Gilles was leaving the club he saw the shadow was trying to get catch a cab but all the drivers were turning him down because he was so drunk. Gilles, was a Doors fan and he thought he recognized the shadow, it was Jim Morrison! Gilles offered to help Jim home and he wrestled Jim into a cab. Jim was too drunk to tell anyone his address so Gilles decided to take him to the apartment of his friend Herve Muller. On the way Jim jumped out of the cab and attempted to jump into the Seine, Gilles asked him why he wanted to do that and Jim’s reply was that he “wanted to swim.” As he tried to get Jim back into the cab, Jim noticed some police approaching and started yelling “f**king pigs!” at them, Gilles pushed Jim into the cab and they sped off, and he was able to lodge Jim at Muller’s apartment. The next day Gilles went to retrieve Jim and they went out to lunch and talked. Jim questioned Gilles about the 1968 student riots in Paris, and when Gilles tried to ask him about The Doors Jim visible tensed up and Gilles sensed he didn’t want to talk about the band. Jim took Gilles back to his apartment and Pam (Courson) was there. Gilles described her as being slight and very pretty, and she also seemed to tense up if the subject changed to The Doors.

The video of the interview with Gilles can be found in the left hand column of this article.

Merci Gilles!

 

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