James Douglas Morrison was born on December 8, 1943 in Melbourne, FL to Steve and Clara Morrison. He had one brother and one sister, both younger than him. For the first three years of his life Morrison stayed with his mother and his father's parents in Clearwater, FL while his father was away at war. His father was a career Naval Officer who returned from World War II in 1946.

Due to his father's career, Morrison had to move many times during his childhood to various parts of the country. When he was four years old, Steve Morrison was transferred to Los Alamos, New Mexico to work in the governments atomic weapons program. While living in New Mexico Morrison experienced what he would later call, "The most important moment in my life," (14, #2). When they were driving on the highway outside of Albuquerque Morrison's parents and him came upon an overturned pick-up truck full of Pueblo Indians. His father got out to help, but they left soon after.

Morrison screamed for his father to go back but to no avail. Later Morrison would say that while their car was driving away the soul of a dying Indian entered his body. The event deeply impacted both Morrison and his father to the point where his father disclaimed Morrison's story as a dream and told all of those who Morrison told the story to that he had made it up. Morrison's rebellious side became more apparent as he entered Junior High. He was kicked out of Cub Scouts at age 10 for propositioning the den mother.

Morrison's family was upper-middle class and very average. His parents did not spank him, and his father spent his free time playing golf at the Army/Navy Country Club.