© by Rainer Moddemann, Paris, April 1993

Rainer: Gilles, you are known as the one who picked up Jim Morrison at a club in Paris in 1971, but it seems to me that your story had been changed by the press a lot. How about telling our readers the real story?
Gilles: The club was called the ROCK'N'ROLL CIRCUS at that time, and after that they called it WHISKEY A GOGO.
Rainer: When did they change the name?
Gilles: During the summer of 1971. The owner left the club and it was closed. In October they started again under the new name. It turned into a teenybopper club then.
Rainer: So what did you do in there? How old were you at that time?
Gilles: Twenty.
Rainer: You weren't a teenybopper anymore ...
Gilles: No, but they used to play rockmusic at the ROCK'N'ROLL CIRCUS. Everybody went there.
Gilles Yepremian, 1992
Photo © Michelle Campbell
Rainer: Were you a regular at the club?
Gilles: I didn't go there every night, but very often.
Rainer: Did they play Doors music as well?
Gilles: Yes, sure. And they had live acts there, too, like Led Zeppelin, Joe Cocker and many others.
Rainer: And so that very night in May 1971 you went there for your pleasure. How did this strange meeting happen?
Gilles: I was there with some friends in the restaurant of the club. I just saw a shadow where the security guys were. Later I went out and saw this guy kicking the door with his feet, because he wanted to get inside, but the security wouldn't let him in anymore because they had just thrown him out. When I looked at his face I realized it was Jim Morrison. He was completely drunk. But I also remember Johnny Halliday being there the same night in the same state, completely drunk, causing a scandal, but nobody said anything because everybody knew it was Johnny, who was a big star in France.
Rainer: So you are absolutely sure nobody had realized it was Jim Morrison outside trying to get in?
Gilles: Nobody, I'm sure. Definitely. He didn't look like Jim at all, but like an American student travelling in France.
Rainer: If he had had a beard, do you think you would have recognized him as well?
Gilles: I don't know, really. I had seen pictures of him with a beard on the live-album and from the Isle Of Wight-Festival, which were published in ROCK & FOLK magazine.
Rainer: What clothes did he wear?
Gilles: He was wearing a green military jacket and some blue jeans.
Rainer: Somebody else said Jim used to be a regular at that club and a lot of people knew him ...
Gilles: Yeah, they say that, but I met him just this one time here. I can't judge.
Rainer: I remember the ROCK'N'ROLL CIRCUS had this long entrance, a long hallway or corridor, and then some stairs up to the door.
Gilles: Right, and Jim was knocking at that door with his feet. I was looking out of the door and asked him, "Are you Jim?", and he said "Yeeeaah!". So I took him away from that door by his arm, along the hallway to the outside. We tried to get a cab, because he was completely out of his mind. The first cab refused to take us with it and the driver said "Go away!". But the next one stopped.
Rainer: What in fact did you want to do with Jim?
Gilles: I was sure if he had stayed there he would have had a fight with the security guys, I'm sure. So I decided to take him with me to Hervé Muller's flat.
Rainer: If it hadn't been Jim Morrison but any other guy, would you have taken him away from that door, too?
Gilles: Yes, I would have taken him away from that door. But I wouldn't have taken him to Hervé's.
Rainer: Why didn't you accompany Jim in the taxi to his own apartment in Rue Beautreillis?
Gilles: Because Jim wasn't in the state to give me his address, definitely not, you know, he was absolutely drunk.
Rainer: And why didn't you take him to your own flat?
Gilles: Well, at that time I was living with my parents. I couldn't have come there with a totally drunken American.
Rainer: Hervé was a friend of yours at that time?
Gilles: Yes, a very good friend. We had some friends in common, that's how we met. He worked for BEST-magazine at that time and was living with Yvonne Fuka, who was the girl making the drawings for BEST.
Hervé Muller and Gilles Yepremian
Photo © Rainer Moddemann
Rainer: Let's go on with your story. In that second cab ...
Gilles: Yes, we got in there and I told the driver Hervé's address. Soon we arrived at the Pont de la Concorde, which is a bridge crossing the Seine, and Jim wanted the taxi to stop. He got out and went away from the taxi. I paid the driver and he drove away. Jim wanted to jump up the railing. I saw two cops coming and said, "Be careful, cops are coming!". But Jim shouted, "Fuck the pigs!", something like that, and he went quiet again. And I stopped another cab which took us to the house where Hervé lived. Again I paid the driver and he asked for some tip, but had just this big banknote left. Jim asked, "What does he want?", and I told him, "He wants some more money.". So Jim took out of his pocket like 5.000 French Francs, which was a lot of money at that time, and gave it to the taxidriver. The driver stared at this whole bunch of banknotes and gave them back to me thinking we were crazy. I passed the money back to Jim and we went up to Hervé 's flat. On each floor Jim knocked on my back and hissed "Sssssh, they are sleeping!". I rang Hervé's door and Yvonne opened. I remember there was this Belgian girl staying overnight in the same apartment, and she thought we were the police wanting to search the flat. So she threw all her hash out of the window in a hurry! We got in, and Hervé got up and asked, "What are you doing here in the middle of the night, it's four o'clock!" And I answered, "I'm here with Jim Morrison!" "Fuck you, Gilles", Hervé responded. "You just want to sleep in my apartment. Take a sleeping-bag and sleep!" But Jim just entered the room, crashed upon their bed and fell asleep. Hervé and Yvonne had to take their sleeping bags, because it was impossible to move him, he was lying across the bed and stayed there like that.
Rainer: Did you stay in the flat, too, or ...
Gilles: No, I left, but came back a day later in the afternoon. Before I arrived, Jim went with Hervé and Yvonne to the ALEXANDRÉ, which is now closed. When I arrived at the flat, Jim again was drunk. So I found him in the same state as I had left him.
Rainer: Was this the day you took your famous photos of Jim?
Gilles: No, some days later. But Jim stayed again at Hervé's flat that night sleeping until the next day, then he went off and we met him again a couple of days later for a meal at Hervé's. He came over and Pamela was with him. And during this meal they decided to go to Corsica, 'cos I remember Hervé had this great Corsican Rosé wine for the meal, which Jim seemed to like as much as Pamela did. She asked, "What's this wine?", and Hervé answered, "It's Corsican wine.", and Jim turned to Pamela and said, "Do you wanna go there?". And on the spot they decided to travel to Corsica the following week. It went like that.
Rainer: Do you remember anything else, any special event?
Gilles: Yes, I remember Jim wanted to listen to some music after the meal. He went to Hervé's record collection, looked at all the albums and took out an LP of Buffy St.Marie. I can't remember which one, but we listened to it together. And I remember one more thing: Jim was very sad when when he heard that this guy from Canned Heat had died ...
Rainer: Al Wilson, who was also called The Blind Owl?
Gilles: Yes, Al Wilson. Jim was very close to Canned Heat, and I noticed Al's death was a big shock for him.
Jim Morrison at Hervé Muller's flat, May 1971
Photo © Gilles Yepremian
Rainer: Did Jim have a copy of the L.A.Woman album at that time?
Gilles: No, he received that some weeks later. But I remember Hervé telling me Jim had received a test pressing, and they both listened to that record together.
Rainer: How many times did you meet Jim and Pam together?
Gilles: Two or three times.
Rainer: Have you been to the flat in Rue Beautreillis?
Gilles: No, although Jim gave me his address and phone number on a sheet of paper, and after he had died, I put that away, probably between the pages of a book, and I can't find it anymore.
Rainer: Pity. This would be worth a fortune nowadays. A week after the meal they both went to Corsica. I know they came back 10 days later ...
Gilles: I can't remember, because I didn't see them again after they came back from Corsica. The last time I saw them was in Mid May 1971.
Rainer: I remember you once told me your English wasn't that good at that time as it is now ...
Gilles: It's still not good ...
Rainer: You're joking. Did Jim speak French at all?
Gilles: No, not at all, not a word. We had some conversation, sure, but he wouldn't talk about The Doors. This subject was really a kind of paranoia for him.
Rainer: Did you or Hervé try to talk about The Doors with him?
Gilles: Yes, we did, but Jim became very annoyed as soon as we touched that subject. He just said he was too old to be a Rock'n'Roll singer. Mostly he talked about what he wanted to do in the future, almost never anything about his past, America, or his friends from over there. He just talked about what he was doing in Paris, that's all.
Rainer: Some people say that Jim was tired and bored being in L.A., and that's why he went to Paris, just to get away from everything there, including The Doors ...
Gilles: Well, that's what I think, too. But he drank like hell, every day. During our meal at Hervé's he didn't drink that much, but all the other times I've met him he drank everything near him. But I can't remember seeing him smoking. I also remember I met him with Hervé in a restaurant on Avenue des Ternes, and he got drunk again.
Rainer: Did you ever hear Jim talking about the fact that he needed some more money coming in from the States to pay his rent?
Gilles: No. He seemed to be rich, he had money in his pocket, always more than 5.000 Francs, which at that time was worth like 50.000 Francs today.
Rainer: What special plans did he have?
Gilles: He said he was in Paris to write, and he also talked about cinema and movies.
Rainer: Did you see anything he wrote?
Gilles: No, he never wrote anything when we were with him. He also never showed us some of his poetry.
Rainer: He gave Hervé a copy of his book AN AMERICAN PRAYER. Did you see any other books Jim had with him?
Gilles: No, I just remember the private issue that Hervé still has. But I wasn't there when Jim gave the copy to him.
Rainer: Was he saying anything about Paris?
Gilles: Oh yes, he liked it very much, together they liked it very much.
Rainer: About the few photos you took ...
Gilles: Yes, I took them in black & white in front of Hervé's house at Place Tristan Bernard.
Pamela Courson, Jim Morrison and Hervé Muller outside Hervé’s flat, May 1971
Photo © Gilles Yepremian
Rainer: We can see a couple of people standing in front of the entrance. There's Pamela Courson on the left, then Jim and Hervé Muller and another guy. Who was that?
Gilles: This guy, his name was Henri-Jean Henu, was the owner of an underground newspaper in Paris called Le Parapluie (The Umbrella). He knew from someone that Jim was at Hervé's flat and came over. Henri-Jean had waited at the front door for hours, and when we finally were coming out, he rushed straight up to Jim as soon as he noticed him, gave him a newspaper and wanted to talk to Jim about The Doors, but of course Jim refused to comment on that subject.
Pamela Courson (hiding), Jim, Henri-Jean Henu and Hervé Muller, May 1971
Photo © Gilles Yepremian
Rainer: What newspaper has Jim got under his arm?
Gilles: This was a copy of Le Parapluie.
Rainer: That was when you took your photos. How come you took just these few?
Gilles: Because it was not my camera and not my film.
Rainer: One of your pictures got published on a book cover, I remember it was a book about Le Parapluie. The same photo is also for sale on the fleamarket here in Paris.
Gilles: I didn't know that, really. Haven't seen a penny for that ...
Rainer: In Hervé's books there are a couple of other photos, did you take any of these?
Gilles: No, Hervé and Yvonne Fuka took them, and later she gave the copyright of her photos to Hervé. But I'm aware of the fact that sometimes there's a big confusion about my pictures and Hervé's. I think they had one of mine in the video A TRIBUTE TO JIM MORRISON, and Hervé was credited for it, not me. And also in the NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE book there's one of mine credited to Hervé.
Rainer: Did you ever complain?
Gilles: Yes, but the French publisher gave me no money. In the second edition they changed the credits, and again I didn't get any money. In the latest American edition there's still Hervé's name under the photo, although Hervé and I wrote to the publisher. We never received an answer, and it's still in print with the wrong name.
Rainer: What do you think about your photos being used all the time without proper credits?
Gilles: Honestly, I don't really care that much. I don't want to do business with them.
Rainer: How do you feel about Hervé being pretty famous for being a friend of Jim Morrison, while it was you who started this relationship?
Gilles: He's a journalist and I'm not.
Rainer: I mean your name is totally unknown among Doors fans, except for a few people. Doesn't it bother you? I mean you've got an interesting story to tell as well.
Gilles: I really don't think about this that much.
Rainer: How do you comment on the relationship between Pamela and Jim?
Gilles: Pamela always looked very shy, she didn't talk very often and she always wanted Jim's protection. She looked quite afraid and was always near him. Just look at my photos - when this guy came up to Jim, she went straight behind him. But they also made the impression of a big love story, they really behaved like that. They looked really together and happy.
Rainer: Did you notice any of them taking drugs?
Gilles: No, I didn't. Now I know that she had been a heroin user at that time, but when I met her she didn't make that impression. And she also never asked me or Hervé for drugs, or where to get them, nor did Jim.
Rainer: What do you think about the stories that Jim died of a heroin overdose in the club?
Gilles: Hervé and I met a girl several months later, her boyfriend was in jail, and this girl was called Nicole. She told everyone it was her boyfriend who sold the drug to Jim. But who knows. It is very hard to believe what a pusher says.
Rainer: Nicole was a drug user herself?
Gilles: Yes, she seemed to be one.
Rainer: Did Hervé do some research on that subject?
Gilles: Yes, but after Jim had died, there was so much talk, if you know what I mean. Who knows? Like the guy from the ROCK'N'ROLL CIRCUS, he said on TV, Canal +, he remembered Jim being there every night, but I'm sure he has never seen Jim there or noticed it was Jim Morrison. He's lying. And on another TV show there's a guy from Radio Europe I, Francois Jouffa, who is telling my story!
Rainer: When did you first hear about Jim's death?
Gilles: Well, I was on holidays in Southern France and read it in a newspaper. I was shocked.
Gilles Yepremian and Rainer Moddemann, Paris 1992
Photo © Michelle Campbell
Rainer: Have you ever met Alain Ronay?
Gilles: No, I haven't. But there was another guy, Phil Trainer, who was a friend of Hervé and me. He was about the first who met Jim in Paris. Phil later wrote a song about him called "Beautiful Jim".
Rainer: Yes, a great song. Did you talk to Phil about Jim or did he ever mention the session they did in L'ASTROQUET?
Gilles: Oh, at that time probably, but I can't remember. Last time I met Phil he was with Jerry Hopkins in 1972, I think. Then Phil went back to America. I think now he has got a group in London.
Rainer: Any meeting with Agnes Varda?
Gilles: Pity, no. I tried to make contact, but she generally refuses to talk about Jim. She talked to Canal +, but they had to do the interview three times I've heard, each time she wanted to watch it and change it. I was also told she's very angry about the article Alain Ronay wrote for Paris Match. But she still lives at the same place like she did 20 years ago when Jim visited her.
Rainer: Oh, the place where the birthday party happened for her daughter?
Gilles: Yes, yes, with all the kids and Jim among them ...
Rainer: ... which Oliver Stone transferred to Los Angeles into a party for Ray Manzarek's daughter, who doesn't even exist.
Gilles: (laughs) Right, right!
Rainer: What is Yvonne Fuka doing now?
Gilles: She's a psychiatrist in Paris. But although she was in the Canal + show, she never talks about Jim. I think Hervé arranged that.
Rainer: You became a Doors collector yourself. Do you like all those countless bootlegs coming out?
Gilles: I think it's a good thing for the collector, but not for the group.
Rainer: What are you doing for a living these days, Gilles?
Gilles: I am managing a band called Urban Sax, the band consists of 52 (!) people, 10 singers, 2 dancers, three percussionists, one bass player, and the rest are saxophonists. We play a kind of unique avantgarde music, have got 5 records out, and also one video taped in Tokyo. We sometimes play Germany, by the way.
Rainer: When you go to Jim's grave - how do you feel being there?
Gilles: It's hard to believe he's in there, because he seems to be still alive, with all the records coming out, and the videos. When I first came there in 1971 there was nothing but this piece of wood with a plate on it. In the beginning you could always find joints and drugs on the grave, there was absolutely no security or guards as it is now. Now the grave is like a tourist monument, not because of Jim but for curiosity.
A scan of the autograph Gilles got from Jim in May 1971
Rainer: You're right. I think exactly the same. Thank you for the interview. Let's go and have a beer.
Gilles: You're welcome.

© 1999 Rainer Moddemann, The Doors Quarterly Magazine. This interview may not be distributed in any other context or media.