5 Things You May Not Have Known About Robby Krieger

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
The Doors THE DOORS Cover

Today we celebrate the birthday of guitarist Robby Krieger, whose work with The Doors made him a legend, not least of which because he wrote the band’s signature single. To commemorate the day of his birthday, we’ve put together a list of five things you may or may not have known about Mr. Krieger, and here’s hoping there are more things that you didn’t know than that you did.

1.    He’s been a blues fan since he was a teenager.

Mind you, Krieger joined The Doors when he was a teenager, so this isn’t too much of a surprise, but his exposure to the blues started prior to joining the band. “When I was a teenager, some of my buddies were into blues, and this is when I first started playing guitar,” he told Goldmine. “I really got into it quite heavily — Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, a lot of slide players and guys like Blind Lemon Jefferson. I just loved all that stuff.”

2.    He used to be part of a jug band.

These days the only jug band most kids know is the one formed by Emmett Otter in that classic Christmas special, but during the course of the early ‘60s folk movement, jug bands had a bit of a comeback. Always on the cutting edge, Krieger formed the Back Bay Chamberpot Terriers while attending the University of California – Santa Barbara. Alas, there are no recordings of the group, but we’re confident that Robby could rock a jug with the best of ‘em.

3.    The first song he ever wrote was “Light My Fire.”

For as much credit as Jim Morrison gets as the lyricist for The Doors, he wasn’t the only songwriter in the band. “Jim had been writing all the songs and then one day we realized we didn’t have enough tunes, so he said, ‘Hey, why don’t you guys try and write songs?’” Krieger told Guitar World. “I wrote ‘Light My Fire’ that night and brought it to the next rehearsal.” Granted, if you’ve seen the Oliver Stone bio-pic of the band, you may already know this fact, since there’s a scene that details the song’s origins, but what you may not know is that Krieger is the one who suggested the scene, explaining, “It’s always kind of bugged me that so many people don’t know I was the composer.”

4.    He performed on The Smothers Brothers Show with a black eye.

For years, Krieger said that he was sporting the shiner because he’d gotten into a fight with Jim Morrison, but while that’s technically true, the implication was that it was a one-on-one fight between him and Jim. Later, Krieger clarified the situation: “My black eye? I was protecting Jim from some bad guys. I forgot to duck! They could have put makeup on it for the show, but I said, ‘Nah, just leave it.’”  Manzarek elaborated on the tale a bit more, explaining, “Three rednecks got in a fight with Jim and Robbie down the street from the Doors' office at a bar and there was pushing and shoving and Robbie Krieger got whacked in the eye. Jim ducked a punch, Robbie wasn't able to duck the punch. That was 2 days before we went on The Smothers Brothers' Show. They said to Robbie on the show, ‘Let's put some make-up on that black eye. You don't want to be on national television with a black eye.’ And Robbie said, ‘Yes, I do! No one has ever gone on TV with a black eye. I'm going to be the first! It's a badge of honor.’”

5.    He and John Densmore co-produced an album for a band called The Comfortable Chair.

Oddly enough, this wasn’t a reference to Monty Python’s “Spanish Inquisition” sketch, since the band’s self-titled debut was released in 1968, but it’s still a great name, one which – since you’re probably wondering now – was derived from a state within transcendental meditation. Their album was also co-produced by Lou Adler, and while it wasn’t a major success, the band did secure a pop culture footnote by appearing in the Bob Hope / Jackie Gleason comedy How to Commit Marriage.