Robby Krieger Interview
Robby Kriegar was only
18 years old when he joined The Doors. He'd been playing guitar for just two
years, and electric guitar for months! It was Robby Krieger who wrote some
of The Doors best known songs, including "Light My Fire", "Love
Me Two Times", and "Touch Me". We spoke with Robby Krieger
about his days in The Doors, and what he's doing now. (1994)
Q - Robby, as I understand it, you're in the studio recording. What are
you working on?
A - Well, I'm working on a "live" album right now for my band
which is RKO, the Robbie Krieger Organization. I'm working on a studio album
also, with each song having a different producer and co-writer. Other than
that, we're working on a song for a compilation album, where the proceeds
are going for AIDS research. I would like to get into film soundtracks as
my main aim.
Q - That's a difficult field to break into it, isn't it?
A - Yeah, real difficult. I've done a couple of things recently, but nothing
big. I wanna get a real feature movie, you know.
Q - What's it gonna take to make that happen?
A - You have to know the right person at the right time. That's what it
Q - Isn't that the way it always is?
A - Especially in this business.
Q - You're also a painter. When did you start painting? Is that therapeutic
for you to get away from the music for just a little while?
A - Yeah, definitely I used to paint when I was a kid. Then a couple of
years ago, they had this auction for AIDS at the radio station here in L.A.
and asked a bunch of us musicians to try something, even if it's just putting
your lyrics down on a canvas or something. So, I decided that was a good
excuse to get back into it anyway. So, I've been doing it ever since.
Q - You, along with the other members of The Doors were inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. What does that award mean to you?
A - Well, I hope it means a lot, if the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is as
prestigious as the Baseball Hall of Fame, or one of those things, that would
be great. I hope it does turn out to be so. They haven't really had a Hall
of Fame yet in reality, because they have no where to put it. But, they
finally started building the real one in Cleveland now. So I think it'll
have more prestige once it actually gets built.
Q - What does it feel like to have people like me, ask you questions about
people and events that are part of your past? Do yon get the same questions
all the time?
A - (laughs) Yeah most of'em. A lot of'em are. But, I realize people want
to know this stuff. It's a big deal to people you know? Unless the questions
are stupid, I don't mind answering them.
Q - When the "L.A. Woman" album was released in June 1971, it
was the seventh consecutive Gold album for The Doors. No American rock group
had ever done that before. Was "L.A. Woman" The Doors swan song,
or could you guys have come up with more material had Morrison returned
A - Oh yeah, we were all ready to record the next album, when Jim came
home from Paris, which he never did. But, he never made it back unfortunately.
We definitely would have gone on. I don't know how many more albums, but
what else did we have to do? (laughs) For all the complaining, John was
gonna quit, and Jim going to Paris, we always got back together because
it worked. That was the deal. No matter what personal lives we're doing
or what each guy had in his little trip, the music was always there when
we four got together.
Q - You've said that Jim resented the fact that he was living the music
and the other guys weren't. What did you do when you weren't doing the music?
A - Oh, just what normal people do. I had a girlfriend and a house and
a Porsche or something, which got stolen, (laughs) I used to go fishing
and play racquetball and stuff like that. Just what normal people do. But
Jim, on the other hand, didn't have a house. He would live in a motel or
wherever he happened to be that night. He would end up sleeping there. He
was always thinking about songs. When he would be alone, he would have a
notebook and that's what he would do. He considered himself, I guess, more
into the whole trip than the other three of us were. To be like that, you
have to be obsessed. I think there's a fine line between how much...you
know you have to get away from your work a little while.
Q - One hundred years from now, people will still
be playing and listening to "Light My Fire". It's a rock classic.
As the writer of that song, how doe*s that make you feel?
A - It's really a great feeling to have written a classic. I think I owe
a big debt to Jose Feliciano because he is actually the one, when he did
it, everybody started doing it. He did a whole different arrangement on
it. It was a much more accessible arrangement as far as different types
of musicians doing it. Nobody had covered it up until that time. Once he
did it, everybody started doing it. Even though I really didn't like his
version at first, like I say it was a lot more accessible. The very fact
that that song was the key element in the career of both The Doors and Jose
Feliciano, in two total different arrangements of the song shows how strong
that song is.
Q - What do you think of when a Doors song is played on the radio, and
maybe you're driving down the street in your car? What goes through your
A - Most of The Doors songs are great driving songs. I just groove by it.
It's a great feeling to hear your song on the radio. It doesn't trigger
any special memories or anything.
Q - Do you still recall the early Doors gigs at places like The London
Fog and the Whiskey A Go Go?
A - Oh sure.
Q - How fortunate The Doors were, that first you
could play out six nights a week, and second you didn't have to "pay
A - It was like a real job then. It was like you could actually earn a
living playing clubs, and doing original music. Today, its like a total
reversal. The kids have to come up with the money to play instead of making
money. It's crazy.
Q - You've said that Jim talked about death all the time. What did he say?
A - Well, it's not what he said, it's just the mood, the very fact that
he would be thinking about it at three in the afternoon or something, made
it weird. I couldn't give you any quotes especially. It's just that he would
be thinking about it. It just doesn't seem all that normal.
Q - I know that you and the other two guys in The Doors co-operated with
Oliver Stone for his movie on The Doors. What did you think of Oliver Stone's
A - Well, first of all the three of us didn't cooperate. Just two of us
cooperated with it.
Q - That's right, Manzarek did not.
A - (laughs) Yeah. It's funny, because I was always the one who was against
the idea of the movie. For years I fought any movie idea, until finally
we got Oliver Stone interested. I said obviously somebody's gonna make this
movie whether we like it or not, and who better than Oliver Stone? Meanwhile,
Manzarek had always been the one trying to get the movie going. Then we
got Oliver Stone and he goes crazy. He went the other way on it. Anyway,
I thought that it turned out pretty good, as far as a rock 'n roll movie,
which is really hard to make. The Buddy Holly Story was pretty good. I didn't
like the Jerry Lee Lewis movie that much. I thought Val Kilmer was great.
They left a lot of stuff out. Some of the stuff was overblown, but a lot
of the stuff was very well done, I thought.
Q - I had a couple of problems with The Doors movie. I don't think we came
away with any kind of understanding of what made Jim Morrison tick.
A - That's true.
Q - And we really don't know what happened to Morrison that day in July
'71 when, he was discovered in the bathtub of his apartment, dead. Did he
overdose? Was it a heart attack?
A - Well, the problem is nobody knows for sure because nobody who was alive
was there at the time.
Q - I find it rather strange that in February 1991,
Elekter Asylum Records reprinted an article on The Doors from Goldmine
in which it was hinted that Morrison may be alive. Remember, this is on
record company stationery. Statements are made like, "Today it is still uncertain not only how Jim Morrison
died, but if he really died. No one is willing to offer a concrete statement
as to whether or not Jim Morrison is truly dead." Is this being put
out because The Doors record company truly believes Jim Morrison may
be alive, or is it being done to boost record sales?
A - Exactly. That's why they do that.
Q - Did you ever want to travel to Paris and find out what happened to
Jim? I know you sent your road manager over there.
A - Right. When he went over there, he told us that yeah, it was true.
What could we do? They'd already buried him. We believed him. There was
no reason not to. Of course, then the controversy started after certain
parties started whipping up this idea that maybe he wasn't dead, which by
the way always happens when somebody of Jim's stature dies. Same stories
are about Elvis and Bruce Lee. You know, it was, bound to happen. I always
try to squelch that idea. I always say yeah, he's dead, and that's it.
Q - Didn't you appear with a black eye onstage at one point? What was that
A - Oh yeah. I got into a fight with Jim. They wanted to put makeup on,
but I said no, maybe 20 years from now somebody will be interested and ask
me about that.
Q - Now there's a question you don't get asked too much.
A - Believe it or not, that's one of the most asked questions, (laughs)
Everybody always thinks I'll ask him about that. Somebody just asked me
about that the other day.
Q - In a recent interview with Guitar World Magazine, you painted a different
picture of the Miami incident then I've ever read before. You said The Doors
were laughing and drinking beer with the police backstage.
A - After the show. It was a riot, and it was crazy. The Stone movie captured
that concert very correctly I thought. But, nothing happened. Nobody got
hurt. The cops were not arresting anybody. As a matter of fact, they were
drinking beer with us afterwards. It wasn't until a week or two later when
somebody's kid, whose father was running for office, decided to make a big
stink about it, and the arrest warrants came out.
Q - I did read an account by a gentleman who was at that concert and saw
Jim Morrison expose himself.
A - Well, hey, if he was there, why didn't he take a picture?
Q - He said it happened so fast.
A - Well, no matter how fast it happened, how many cameras are there at
a thing like that? C'mon. Believe me, somebody would've caught it on film.
There's no way you could miss it, believe me. (laughs)
Q - I was surprised to read that Jim Morrison trashed the house of Ray
Manzarek and his wife after they allowed him to live with them. Morrison
seems to have gone out of his way to make everybody hate him. I don't understand
that part of his personality, do you?
A - Well, I didn't either, but, you know, that was part of Jim. That was
the clown that always blows it at the worst possible moment. He doesn't
mean to do it, that's just the way he is, or was. It would've been a lot
better if he didn't have that part of him, but on the other hand, that was
part of what drove him.
Q - Do you think there's a group around today that would put up with some
of the antics that Jim pulled? Isn't it all business?
A - Yeah, exactly. That's the problem. It's like it's all for the money.
The element of real comaraderie and artists working together is just not
there, and that's why there's nothing new happening these days. There's
too much money involved.
Q - Have you ever seen one of these Doors Tribute Bands?
A - Oh yeah.
Q - What do you think?
A - Well, it's a double-edge sword I think. On one hand it helps keep the
kids aware of The Doors and on the other hand, it's not The' Doors. The
kids come away, thinking, "Oh, that's how The Doors were," and
it's not. Some of them are very good like "Wild Child." They're
friends of mine. Sometimes I even play with them. I think David Brock does
a real good job. There's one back east called "Soft Parade" which
is very good. I saw them play in Paris, and I actually sat in with them.
It was kind of weird.
Q - Years ago, I used to look at guys like Jim Morrison and say why did
he do this? Why did he do it that way? I would think, if I were him, I would've
done... But, as time passes, I think maybe that's the way things were meant
to work out. Do you see it that way?
A - Yeah. When it's happening, you're never very tolerant of things that
don't go how you think they should go. As time goes on you realize maybe
there's a reason for that, and maybe I could've done something that would've
prevented this or that.
Q - Or maybe you couldn't have.
A - Yeah, well, that's true too. It's always easier to second guess later.
And, as time goes on, you tend to forget the bad parts and remember the
Q - When The Doors were together, you probably didn't realize you would
become such a classic rock group, because you weren't around all that long.
A - Yeah, I mean we didn't consider ourselves to be that big at the time.
Jim always wanted to be a huge act like The Beatles. We never considered
ourselves anywhere near that. It's too bad he's not alive today to see it.
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