The music is never over when it comes to The Doors. If there’s one good thing to come from the death of Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek in 2013, it’s that the last two surviving members, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore, are speaking again after years of not even talking to each other. Krieger, a Los Angeles native, spoke to FOX411 about working with Jim Morrison and the band’s indelible legacy.
FOX411: You and John Densmore became close again after Ray's death.
Robby Krieger: Yeah. It was hard to lose Ray this past year, but at least John and I have started talking again. We want to play together and do some kind of tribute thing for Ray.
FOX411: “Light My Fire” was a No. 1 single for 3 weeks in July 1967. Not a bad showing for the first song you ever wrote.
Krieger: Thanks. It’s been downhill ever since. (laughs) But I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of playing that song.
FOX411: The first Doors album is iconic, but you didn’t have much time to record it.
Krieger: We were pretty proud of that one. We only had about 8 days to cut it. Everyone was very happy with the results. We were four weird guys who just happened to come together at the right place and right time, and we became something bigger than four people, you know? We didn’t just add to our growth; we multiplied it.
FOX411: As a guitar player, you didn’t follow the blues template many other ’60s players did. You were more into flamenco and fingerpicking, and nobody else really played like that at the time.
Krieger: I guess not! It wasn’t like I was trying to be different. I started playing flamenco early on before I played electric guitar, and it kinda bled over.
FOX411: After Jim Morrison first saw you play bottleneck slide on your guitar, he said, “I want to hear that on the whole album!”
Krieger: Hah, yup! He said that right after we did “Moonlight Drive,” the first song we played together. Yeah, Jim loved that sound.
FOX411: Could you tell from the first time you met Jim that there was something special about him?
Krieger: I knew there was something special just by reading some of his lyrics. I didn’t realize what a genius he was until later. He was kind of shy and didn’t say much at first. It took a while. When we started playing at the Whisky [a Go Go, a club in Los Angeles], he really came out of his shell. We realized the potential that he had.
FOX411: The Whisky is where the notorious first performance of “The End” took place in August 1966, and that got the band fired because of Jim’s graphic, Oedipal lyrics. How did that feel at the time?
Krieger: It was a little weird. We hadn’t heard those words before either. (both laugh) It was just another Doors performance. I think they made a bigger deal out of it. But it was definitely different.
FOX411: It seems like every generation discovers Doors music. Do you hear from younger fans?
Krieger: Yeah. I met a 28-year-old the other day who told me her parents grew up listening to The Doors. It was her whole life, you know? She married a guy who she thought was like Jim, and he also died when he was 27, just like Jim did. It was like the outline of her whole life. Our music means so much to people like her, and especially to the guys who went to Vietnam.
FOX411: You got a phone call [in July 1971] telling you Jim had died in Paris. That must have been hard to hear.
Krieger: (pauses) It was kind of a shock. But then again, it wasn’t, you know?
FOX411: I imagine if he were still here, you guys would still be doing your own thing as The Doors, right?
Krieger: I would think so. I’m sure we’d be doing something together. And we probably would have continued on an L.A. Woman kind of path. Did you ever hear the poetry album, An American Prayer? I could hear more stuff coming from him like that.
FOX411: I think of Doors music as the perfect “audio movie soundtrack.” We visualize things when listening to your songs.
Krieger: Yeah, I like that. That’s hopefully what you see in your head when you hear Doors music.
Mike Mettler is the former editor-in-chief and current music editor of Sound & Vision, and he interviews artists and producers about their love of music and high-resolution audio on his own site, www.soundbard.com.