In early July, the most famous tomb in Paris is covered with flowers and candles. July 3rd is Jim Morrison’s death, and fans of The Doors come to the singer’s modest grave every year to commemorate their hero.
Morrison is one of the great legends in rock history. A singer, poet, and sex symbol who died at the age of 27 — and as the inner circle later recalled: a sick man badly ruined by his substance abuse problems who should have gotten treatment in time.
Morrison, who created his career in the United States, died in Paris 49 years ago. He would probably enjoy being allowed to rest around the characters who define his own artistic character: writers Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust, anarchist-theorist Volin, and diva singer Edith Piaf are also buried in Paris ’largest cemetery, Pére-Lachaise.
Jim Morrison was born in Florida and died in France.
Photo: Tatu Paulaharju
What does Robby Krieger, the band's guitarist, think of Morrison, his destiny, and The Doors' enduring cult reputation today?
It’s summer night when Krieger, 74, starts a phone interview by asking:
- Isn't it that you're next to Sweden? And they have not had the same interest rate restrictions as you have in Finland?
The information is flowing, and the North is also interested in Los Angeles, 9,000 kilometers away. The coronavirus is a global problem, and a divergent line in Sweden has been noticed in U.S. media.
- Spring has passed in isolated home conditions. I am an avid golfer, I have longed above all, gambling. Fortunately, the fields will open soon, he told IS in late May.
- When in the spring I had not to play, I have played the guitar at home more than usual.
Unfortunately, coronary infections in California have increased in recent weeks, and precautions have been restarted.
In recent days, Krieger has probably taken up the guitar more often than the golf club.
Photo: Billy Bennight / ZUMA Wire / MVphotos
Krieger joined The Doors in 1965 at the age of 19. He was already a skilled guitarist at the time after training not only rock and blues, but also flamenco.
For this reason, Krieger's way of playing the plectrum, mainly with his fingers, brought originality to The Doors' sound where organist keyboardist Ray Manzarek's (1939-2013) way of handling the bass parts - there was no actual bassist in The Doors.
Although Krieger was an important member of the band, and he wrote, among other things, the band’s breakthrough song Light My Fire, the band’s absolute star and frontman was soloist Jim Morrison.
- Ray was a father figure to another band. When we started, he was already 27 years old. Jim, on the other hand, was like a big brother to me. He was three years older than me. John (Densmore, drummer) is a year older than me, the guitarist lists.
Ray Manzarek (left), John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Jim Morrison.
Photo: Sanoma archive
What do you think of the almost religious fan cult of Jim Morrison that was born over the years?
- Well, sometimes it feels really annoying, Krieger replies after a long thought.
- The film (directed by Oliver Stone in The Doors, 1991) portrayed Jim as a complete lunatic. He might have been on top of it when it happened, but he was also really ordinary at times. Jim was a great co-worker, polite and the friendliest person in the world.
However, alcohol changed Morrison's personality sadly, the guitarist remembers:
- He was nice until he drank too much. That’s when he turned into another person we called Jimbo. Follow her was obviously easy to find even for drinking, which didn’t help at all. I didn't want to be near drunk Morrison either.
In the guitarist’s memories, however, the good sides outperform the bad ones.
- Jim was a real genius as a lyricist. The years we worked together were worth living.
If Jim Morrison hadn’t died, would you think you’re still playing together - as the contemporary band Rolling Stones does?
- There would be no doubt about that. After all, Mick (Jagger) and Keith (Richards) haven’t always got along, but music has kept them together. I know Jim would never have stopped performing. Blood was thrown on stage. Sure, he said he moved to Paris to become a poet, but he already had time to talk about returning to California when LA Woman (The Doors' last record with Morrison) did so well, Krieger replies, taking a long break again and acknowledging:
- On the other hand, nothing was certain with Mr Morrison.
Morrison performing in Portland on New Year's Day 1967.
Photo: Douglas Kent Hall / ZUMA Press / MVphotos
Just to ask about the corona situation and to remember Jim Morrison, Krieger did not answer the phone. The guitarist is not retired, as even before the isolation of the Corona era, he had completed his new solo album The Ritual Begins At Sundown. And to market it, Krieger has been sitting on the phone.
Because of Korona, the release of the album moved from spring to late summer, but the guitarist is in no hurry - the previous solo album was released ten years ago.
- Well now there's three records of music. They are published every year, he laughs.
- After the previous solo album, I returned to play The Doors with Ray. I had no intention of recording my own music until Ray died.
If you expect The Doors-style, blues-flavored vintage rock from solo records, you might be surprised: Krieger realizes his passion for jazz in his solo career.
The line of the album gives the impression that its other key factor is Arthur Barrow, a creditor of the original multi-instrumentalist, composer and satirist Frank Zappa (1940-1993), who worked with Krieger for a long time.
- Arthur was the leader of Frank's band. He rehearsed the band, though it was often reported that Frank got everything new when he arrived on the scene. My collaboration with Arthur even before he got to know Zappa: he mixed The Doors gig at a Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles, Krieger says.
Barrow has been on Krieger's six solo albums - the men are united by the fact that both have realized their talent in the shadow of strong artist personalities.
Some of their skills have been credited to these Masters, but correspondingly, both have also received influences and lessons from renowned artists.
There are also plenty of stories about other famous rock and pop stars at Krieger. She has been invited as a visitor to her own gigs by names as different as Lady Gaga last November and grunge veteran band Alice In Chains a couple of years ago. There has also been collaboration with Ramones in the past - and a trend artist a few years ago, DJ producer Skrillex.
- I don't think musical boundary fences. The only style of music I haven’t made worse is country.
Jim Morrison was born in Florida and died in France.
Photo: Manfred Rehm / DPA via ZUMA Press / MVphotos
At his most active, however, Krieger was a member of The Doors in his twenties. In four years, the band made seven records and a lot of gigs.
- Remembering that pace of work is confusing. Nowadays, many seem to go to record making for a couple of years. But back then, that was a natural way to act. We didn’t think we were miraculous, even though we knew we were good. We thought we could rise to the level of the Rolling Stones. We may not be the Beatles, but the Stones, Krieger laughs.
The name The Doors is mentioned when the history of music is repeated in about the same breath as the Beatles and Rolling Stones, as well as a few other major bands of the 1960s.
Krieger thinks the secret to The Doors ’success is that there was mutual respect among the band members. Everyone had their own task, which everyone also did well.
- The band had good chemistry. If it hadn’t been, a guy like Jim Morrison wouldn’t have watched it for a week.
It is 49 years since Jim Morrison died on July 3rd.