Robby Krieger

Interview by Dennis Morgillo

Robbie Krieger Interview
by Dennis Morgillo
 
Robby Krieger is the legendary Guitarist and songwriter of the Doors. The Doors were formed in Los Angeles California. Their debut Album was released 50 years ago. 
Robby is still making great music and touring. 
 
Madhouse: You are currently on tour and your son Waylon is the singer. How did this come to be?
Robby Krieger: Waylon was originally in my band as a guitarist. Recently he got into acting and thought it would help his acting career to be a lead singer. After Ray died I didn’t really feel like playing the Doors music. 6 months later I was called to fill in for a show. They begged me to cover for Dicky Betts who cancelled a show in Florida. Waylon sang a few Doors song in the past, and I asked Waylon if he could sing a whole Doors show. He said he would try, so we went off to Florida. It worked out great and we kept doing it. He’s gotten better and better, that was a year and a half ago. 
 
Madhouse: Was your son a Doors fan growing up. Did he appreciate your greatness or were you just ‘Dad’ to him?
RK: Not really. He was like ‘this is just dad’. When he was around 12, he and his friends started getting into 60’s music. His friend Berry Oakley Jr. - The Allman Brothers Kid, they got together and jammed. Mostly Hendrix, they didn’t like The Doors that much. When they got older we went out and played, mostly jazz rock and a few Doors songs.
 
Madhouse: You have been married to the same woman for 45 years. That must be the record in Rock n Roll?
RK: Well Ray beat me out by a few years. We must have gotten it from our parents. They were married for their whole lives. In Rock n Roll it’s not that easy.
 
Madhouse: What songs are you playing on the tour?
RK: We switch it up but we are going to concentrate on the first album since it is the 50th Anniversary. 
 
Madhouse: Do you have a favorite song to play?
RK: I like ‘When The Music’s Over’, ‘Light My Fire’. I like the songs where there is a lot of guitar.
 
Madhouse: Who is in your band? Can we expect special guests?
RK: Phil Chen, Ty Dennis, and a great Keyboardist Ed Roth. I am going to ask friends to come out. Last time out we had the Blue Oyster Cult guys. 
 
Madhouse: Can you tell us anything you remember from the recording of the Doors First Album?
RK: The main thing was how quick and easy it was. We were playing the songs every night for 6 months. So the main thing was to get our sound right and then turn the tape recorders on. It was 2 or 3 takes the most for each song. 
 
Madhouse: How do you think the music business has changed over the years?
RK: The attention span has definitely decreased. People don’t really care about albums anymore. You used to sit there and play a whole album on vinyl. Today they just steal a song from spotify and then move on to the next. 
Madhouse: Everyone knows the legend of Jim Morrison, but what was it like before the insanity?
RK: That was a cool time. We lived in Venice most of us. We would go down to muscle beach and all hang out together. It really was a lot of fun. 
 
Madhouse: Do you recall the first time Jim added the Oedipus references into ‘The End’?
RK: Yeah I was thinking, where did this stuff come from. It was kind of crazy. Everyone was thinking that, including us.  That night he had taken way too much LSD and missed the first set. It was the first time he ever missed a gig. We were worried so Ray and John went to his motel - The Tropicana and they found him there. He was completely messed up on Acid, naked, hiding under the bed. They got him together to come back and do the second set. He says let’s play ‘The End’. We say that is always the last song, but Jim wanted to play it first , so we did. We started playing it and out came the Oedipus stuff. Yeah it was crazy, but it was cool though. He was totally into it. 
 
Madhouse: Did you get fired for that?
RK: I don’t know. I think that was just for the movie to make it more dramatic. We didn’t play the Whiskey that much after that anyway. We just signed a contract with Elektra and we were getting a lot of out of town gigs.
 
Madhouse: Was that the most exciting time in your career?
RK: Yes definitely. When you start getting some good gigs. Like the Fillmore and the Whiskey. The Whiskey was THE place to play in LA. It was very cool.
 
Madhouse: How did Chuck Berry influence you?
RK: He was a huge influence. He was the reason I bought an electric guitar. I saw him play in 1963 at the Santa Monica Civic. Chuck Berry, Big Mama Thornton and The Chambers Brothers. Chuck Berry comes out with Johnnie Johnson and his original band. He never used those guys after that, and I was lucky enough to see that. Man was he on that night. Duckwalking, the whole thing. He had this Red Guitar and I said Man I have to get one of those. Up until that point I only played Flamenco Guitar. I went down to the Pawn Shop, Ace Loans and I saw a red guitar that was similar to Chucks so I bought it. It was an SG with the black pickups. Thats the guitar I used on the first album. Someone stole it. I wish they would give it back to me. 
 
Madhouse: You are a very influential guitarist, what make your sound so unique?
RK: I think the main thing was playing with Ray and John. Playing with Ray as the bass, opened up a lot of the lower ends for me to fill in. I used the lower strings a lot more than other players. It was that weird combination of John and Ray. Up until then I hadn’t played with a lot of people. It was being in the Doors that molded my sound. 
 
Madhouse: As a guitarist, were you a fan of Jazz Rock Fusion. John McLaughlin, Al Dimeola and that type of playing?
RK: Oh yeah definitely, in fact we played a gig with Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was after Jim died and we went on this tour, I think it was Michigan, and out comes Mahavishnu. I never heard anything like that, man. Billy Cobham wheeled out this amazing drum set. It was a curved, clear set. So many pieces. They just tore the place up. I never heard anything like it. After that I wanted to get into that type of music. I used to go see Chick Corea and Larry Carlton was my favorite. Later I hooked up with some jazz guys and he taught a lot of us rock and roll players to play jazz. 
Madhouse: Are you working on any new music?
RK: Last year I had a band, The Robby Krieger Jam Kitchen with some of the guys from Zappa’s Band. It’s going to be songs we worked out on that tour. Also ‘Sessions’ on Cleopatra Records. It’s all the sessions that I worked on over the years. 
 
Madhouse: What has kept the Doors Music Alive all these years?
RK: First and foremost it is the music. You can’t have a band that lasts that long without great music. If you listen to our albums, even the Depp Tracks, they are all good, there are no sleepers. We had high standards and wouldn’t release inferior products. After all the hype of the good looking lead singer and hollywood movies, it comes down to the music. 
 
Madhouse: Any plans for an autobiography?
RK: I am working on it. One of these days. Probably after the 50th Anniversary. 
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