Personalities | Robby Krieger | Opening Doors | Guitar Heroes

Eclectic guitarist Robby Krieger was born in Los Angeles in 1946. Krieger started to play the blues on piano, and began to learn guitar at the age of 17 on a flamenco model. ‘I switched around from folk to flamenco to blues to rock’n’roll,’ he recalled.

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was an important influence. ‘If it hadn’t been for Butterfield going electric, I probably wouldn’t have gone rock’n’roll.’

For Krieger, rock’n’roll offered almost as much musical freedom as jazz, but with greater earning potential. While playing in The Psychedelic Rangers with drummer John Densmore, they hooked up with keyboardist Ray Manzarek and singer Jim Morrison to form The Doors. The band was unusual in having no bassist; in concert, Manzarek played keyboard bass with his left hand while session musicians were used in the studio. Their debut album The Doors (1967) was an instant sensation. ‘Light My Fire’ became a massive Summer of Love hit in America and featured Krieger’s guitar sparring with Manzarek’s swirling organ in the jazzy middle section. His discordant solo on ‘When The Music’s Over’ from Strange Days (1967) anticipated Robert Fripp’s style, while his vibrato on the introduction to ‘Riders On The Storm’ from LA Woman (1971) evoked gentle rainfall. He generally favoured a Gibson SG, although he has also used a Les Paul Sunburst and a Fender Stratocaster.

After Morrison’s death in 1971, The Doors made two more albums, with Manzarek and Krieger sharing the vocal duties. They reunited in 1978 for An American Prayer, adding music to recently discovered tapes of Morrison reading his poetry. Krieger has also made several jazz-tinged solo albums.

The Doors’ enduring popularity and influence on successive generations of bands, starting with The Stranglers and Echo & The Bunnymen, inspired Krieger and Manzarek to assemble a new version of the band in 2002 with former Cult singer Ian Astbury but without Densmore, who subsequently took legal action to prevent the use of The Doors name. The move forced the outfit to tour as Riders On The Storm. Krieger later took part in the Experience Hendrix tribute concerts (2008–09), and in 2012, toured with The Roadhouse Rebels.

Essential Recordings

The Doors: The Doors

The Doors: Strange Days

The Doors: LA Woman

The Butts Band: The Butts Band

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