Krieger: I’d like The Doors’ The End played at my funeral
As guitarist with legendary band The Doors, Robbie Krieger can look back at a back catalogue of music he recorded that includes many genuine, 24-carat gold, classic tracks: Light My Fire, Hello, I Love You, Riders On The Storm, Break On Through and more.
Like the albums of Hendrix, The Beatles and other true greats, The Doors’ late-60s/early-70s albums such as their self-titled debut, Waiting For The Sun, Morrison Hotel and the landmark LA Woman still sell in huge quantities each year as they are discovered by each new generation.
Part of the strong identity of those Doors albums is Robbie Krieger’s distinctive and stylish guitar playing and sound, whether it’s blending into the colourful musical backdrop, or adding Flamenco-style flourishes (Spanish Caravan), jazzy chordal punctuation (Riders On The Storm) or fluid soloing (LA Woman the song).
He has also recorded a number of his own albums, including Versions (’82), Door Jams (’89), and 2000’s Cinematix (2002) and Singularity (2010).
Following the death of keysman Ray Manzarek in May 2013, Krieger is one of two surviving Doors members along with drummer John Densmore. Mainman Jim Morrison, of course, passed way back in July 1971. Krieger and Densmore recently said they are planning to perform together again.
What’s the best career decision you ever made?
Probably to quit college and get into The Doors. I didn’t know that it was gonna be my future, but it seemed like a no-brainer at the time. My family didn’t actually know until later; they thought I was still going to school.
Which career move would you like the opportunity to be able to go back and change?
Let’s see… no, I don’t think there’s really anything that I’d change. I can’t complain about how it’s gone, y’know?
What’s the most ridiculous thing you ever asked for on a tour rider?
Believe it or not, back in the 60s we didn’t have tour riders. Recently, there always have to be 10 or 12 red Hershey’s Crackle bars – for me.
What’s the worst stunt a record or management company has ever tried to pull on you?
Probably back in The Doors days when we had some managers who tried to get Jim to fire the three of us and go and get sidemen to play with. Those guys didn’t last. And Jim really hated that idea. To him it was the band, the four guys, it wasn’t Jim Morrison & The Doors.
Which song, preferably one of your own, would you rather never hear again?
Oh, Lordy. Er… well, I can’t say that about one of our songs, I still like playing all of them. Somebody else’s… Stairway To Heaven. But don’t get me wrong, I like Stairway To Heaven, but when you hear a song too often, especially one you like, it can kill the magic of it.
How many groupies have you slept with in your career – 10, 20, 50…?
That’s private information! Oh, okay, I would say fewer than a hundred.
What would you have liked to have done with your life if you hadn’t become a musician?
I probably would have been an artist – painting. I don’t know whether I would have made a living doing that. It’s hard, y’know. It’s tough being an artist. As well as being an artist, you’ve also got to know how to market yourself. (To find out more and to see some of his artwork, go to www.robbiekrieger.com)
What’s the worst aspect of doing what you do?
Probably that it’s so unpredictable. I’ve been lucky, because up until recently The Doors have always been going, one way or another. But I see so many of my friends who are studio musicians, and their whole life is down to a whim. Or like someone invents a drum machine, and all these studio drummers are out of a job. Or you’re too old because you’re over 25 years old, and you can’t get arrested.
Do think great musicians are born, or made?
I think they’re both. I think a lot of them are born – like, obviously, Mozart must have been born that way to be able to write stuff at the age of eight years old; I mean, he had to have been a musician in his past lifetime. But others, like me for instance, I had to work pretty hard to get good at the guitar. and it took me quite a while. But I think I did have an affinity for the guitar, too.
Would you ever have sold your soul to the Devil if the terms had been right?
Well I would like to say no, but I wouldn’t know until it happened.
Given the increasing importance of image, if the time came when you needed to, would you wear a wig if it would help your career?
No. I might go for a hair transplant, though. I couldn’t stand the putting it on and taking it off with a wig. Or it blowing off in the wind.
What would we find on the ‘hobbies and interests’ section of your CV?
As I’ve already mentioned, painting and also playing golf. Right now I’m thinking of learning how to blow glass. I’m also pretty handy around the house with tools, fixing things up. And I have some old cars, one of which is a Chevy Nomad that I’ve had for about 20 or 30 years. I don’t listen to a lot of music. I’m kind of dismayed with the music scene. It’s so bad now. It’s not the bands’ fault, or anything like that, it’s more the whole entertainment industry.
What goals, musically and otherwise, would you still like to achieve?
Musically, I would love to get to the point where I could play whatever is in my mind, without thinking about it. That’s your master musician. Outside music I do really enjoy golf, so I’d love to be able to play golf at professional level. My handicap is about eight right now.
Which song or piece of music would you like to be played at your funeral?
Gee, I’ve never thought about that. Er… probably The End.
Interview: Paul Henderson