While the shamanistic glow and poetic vision of Jim Morrison continues to shine 20 years after his death, it is little realized that it was the Doors' guitarist, Robby Krieger, who wrote the songs most popularly identified with the band. Morrison was the voice but Krieger was the mind behind the hits Light My Fire, Touch Me,Love Me Two Times and others such as You're Lost Little Girl.
Krieger, now touring with his new band KGB (Krieger, ex-Knack drummer Bruce Gary, former Frank Zappa bassist Arthur Barrow and Krieger's 17-year-old son Waylon on rhythm guitar), said the popular oversight will be addressed in the upcoming Oliver Stone film bio, The Doors.
"Yeah, sometimes that has bothered me, but that does come out in the movie," said the soft-spoken Krieger. He sounded alternately diplomatic and optimistic about the film for which he served as a technical adviser.
"Making movies never goes smoothly. There's always a fight about something when you have so many people involved. And there are a lot of things that will be up to how it is edited. After all, we're talking about two hours for something that had a five-year history."
Krieger said he had been opposed to making a Doors movie until Stone (who won Oscars for directing Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July) was signed for the project. On the other hand, keyboardist Ray Manzarek had been the band's most outspoken advocate for immortalizing Morrison and the Doors on film, but has remained uncharacteristically silent since the movie, featuring Val Kilmer as Morrison, was announced.
"I'm sure Ray isn't thrilled," said Krieger. "He was always for a movie until Oliver Stone came along. When the Doors broke up Ray had his idea of how the band should be portrayed and (drummer) John (Densmore) and I had ours. When Jim was alive it was Ray, John and I who had to keep him in line. But after he died, we didn't see eye to eye."
Krieger said Kilmer did a remarkable and unnerving job of portraying the band's moody, unpredictable singer and stayed in character off the set as well.
"Val really got into the part of playing Jim. It was really weird. I even called him "Jim' a few times without meaning to."
Krieger's role is being played by Frank Whaley (the hitchhiker from Field of Dreams) and the guitarist said most of his technical duties involved showing Whaley where to put his fingers on the fretboard.
Krieger's own music continues to play footsy with his past and with inroads to a future. After Morrison's death the remaining Doors recorded two albums. Densmore and Krieger then formed the Butts Band, while Manzarek went solo and produced L.A. punk bands, most notably X.
After Densmore and Krieger dissolved the Butts Band, Krieger recorded several instrumental solo albums with jazz-rock overtones. Last year's compilation release of new instrumental pieces and Doors songs titled Door Jams (IRS Records) is the best representation of his current creative bent.
Justin Mitchell is a reporter at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.