Jim Coke


A native of Long Beach, CA, Jim Coke's interest in photography began at an early age. He went on to study at the University of Southern California (USC) and UC Berkeley.

As a young man interested in photojournalism and living in some of the most vibrant counter-cultural centers in the world between 1966 and 1970, Jim had the opportunity to document several important events including the Griffith Park "Human Be-In" in March of 1967; Allen Ginsberg HOWLing at the USC campus in April of 1967; Ravi Shankar at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967; The Doors performing at LA’s first Rock Festival in July of 1967; and the Stop the Draft Week protest at the Oakland Army Induction Center in October of 1967.

After graduating from UC Berkeley in December of 1969, Coke sold most of his photographic equipment and went on the road, storing his negatives in his parents’ garage. It wasn't until the mid-1990s, upon seeing Oliver Stone’s incredible biopic The Doors (1991) and reminiscing about the old days, that he returned to look through his forgotten archive.

To his delight, he discovered that his negatives of the Doors performing in July of 1967 at the "Fantasy Faire & Magic Music Festival" in Northridge, CA appeared to be in perfect condition. He had them printed and only then realized that he actually had a number of clear full length images of Jim Morrison that had beautiful light and a unique cinematic quality.

Coke has since had his work featured in over 30 exhibitions honoring the Doors, and most recently, he created an exhibition called "Know Justice, Know Peace: California Counterculture, 1966-1970" which, along with The Doors, features images from of a number of the events of the 60's that he attended. 

These photos include a group of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg reading at USC, the Griffith Park (LA) Human Be-In, Stop the Draft Week in the streets of Oakland, the Monterey Pop Festival, anti-war/peace protests, and collaborations with his photo partner Takashi Suzuki featuring Muhammad Ali, Marlon Brando, Kathleen Cleaver, and more.

Jim spent over 5 years during the earliest days of digital editing and fine-art print technology producing a unique montage of his Jim Morrison photographs. His meticulously crafted final artwork captures Morrison's iconic visceral performance style in a cinematic-style visual sequence.

He has also installed a massive mural of one of his photographs - called "Flying Morrison" in his hometown of Long Beach, CA. His mural is said to be the longest-lasting paper mural in the world, up since 2015. It is the basis of the "Flying Morrison Global Mural" (FMGM) project to benefit international causes.

Jim is currently working on additional mural projects involving collaborations with other artists and poets around the world.

BIO PHOTO CREDIT: Thomas R. Cordova