Becoming friends with Jim Morrison in college at UCLA. Seeing his former college-mate rise to worldwide fame as the lead vocalist and poet laureate of The Doors. Spending good, and sometimes tumultuous, times with him in France years later. Photographing what would become some of the last images of him ever seen due to his untimely demise in 1971 at the young age of 27.
Those are some of the unique experiences of Alain Ronay.
Ronay, who hails from France and today is a naturalized American, met Morrison in 1964 while attending UCLA in California. The two remained close and after college Ronay made a living as a photographer. Over time he took some well-known photos of Morrison both before and during his Doors days.You can see some examples of Ronay's Morrison photos here at his tumblr account (which is open to anyone whether they have a tumblr account or not).
When Morrison decided to take a break from recording and touring in 1971, he went to France with girlfriend Pamela Courson and there he reconnected with Ronay. The trio spent time in both Paris and the French countryside. It was in the countryside that he took some of the last photos of Morrison which can be seen here. The photos were taken on June 28, 1971. Ronay is the bearded one who can be seen in some shots. Also note that, contrary to what some thought due to purported "last photos" in the media, Morrison was actually clean shaven in his final days.
Ronay also experienced the tragic moment just days later on July 3 of being one of the first to come upon Morrison dead in his Paris apartment bathtub. As a native French speaker, he helped navigate the melee that swirled as the awful discovery unfolded while no doubt mourning the loss of his friend.
Fast forward to mid-1972 and it was fitting then that when Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek received newly-minted RIAA* Gold record awards for The Doors 1970 album 13, one presented to himself and one to Morrison, he decided to gift the Morrison one to Ronay. After all, the two were close and Manzarek had his own, as did Doors bandmates Robby Krieger and John Densmore.
Which brings us to the headline of this story. This very award has now come into the marketplace since Ronay decided to part with it at this stage of his life. MusicGoldmine was fortunate enough to acquire this award, one that comes with one-of-a-kind provenance given this history. Here are some images of this award:
Ronay has been kind enough to provide a letter describing how he got it along with a scrap of parcel paper that he kept when getting the award. On it Manzarek jotted: "Alain: I thought you should have this more than anyone else."
Here is the letter that Ronay provided which comes with this item:
We're thrilled to offer this special piece of Doors history. White matte awards (RIAA awards made before 1974) are rare as is, given the very low number produced, but artist presentations are even rarer. Beyond that, finding an artist presentation award with this kind of special history and provenance is the rarest of all when it comes to record awards.
You can view this one-of-a-kind Doors collectible and see a full description here. It is currently for sale here at MusicGoldmine.com and will also be offered as part of our MusicGoldmine auction to be held on August 1 at 10 a.m. PT (Pacific Time) sharp at Invaluable.com. The auction is open to bidders worldwide. Prospective bidders can see all items and register to bid anytime here (this link will take you to this auction's information and registration page at Invaluable.com).
Other rare and interesting items in the auction include RIAA record awards for 1980 Queen hit “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” presented to the late Freddie Mercury, The Rascals “Beautiful Morning” to founding member Gene Cornish. Also included are RIAA album awards for a Beach Boys Best Of collection to the late Dennis Wilson, Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction to the band, the late Kenny Rogers for a 70s hits album to Rogers, the late Michael Jackson’s Invincible to Jackson, the Rolling Stones Aftermath to the late Brian Jones, and The Cars Greatest to keyboardist Greg Hawkes to name just a few highlights from over 125 record awards included in the sale.
In addition, the auction contains guitars signed by AC/DC’s Angus Young, Guns N’ Roses Slash, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, the Rolling Stones Keith Richards, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Mick Jones of The Clash, members of Loverboy and drum heads signed by John Densmore of The Doors, Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, Artimus Pyle of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Other autographed items, handbills, posters, concert programs and memorabilia collages with backstage passes and concert tickets from Woodstock and dozens of artists including Aerosmith, Beatles, Blondie, Eagles, Elton John, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, KISS, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Nirvana, Rod Stewart, Tom Petty, The Who, Van Halen, ZZ Top and many more with a focus on the vintage and rare.
7/27/20 UPDATE: This award has been sold.
See all the pre-owned RIAA awards MusicGoldmine.com currently has for sale here or visit our home page for other memorabilia collections.
Interested in learning the top 10 highest prices attained by RIAA awards sold in the marketplace? See them in our article here.
*Note: The RIAA is a U.S. record industry trade organization that created the Gold® and Platinum® record award program. The awards recognize milestone sales levels for U.S. sales of recorded product.