The Doors guitarist Robby Krieger is listed among Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He’s penned some of the legendary rock group’s biggest hits like “Light My Fire.” He’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On September 24, you’ll have the chance to hear him perform at Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. Krieger spoke with Dan’s Papers about getting his start playing flamenco guitar, the passing of Doors front man Jim Morrison and Krieger’s charity The Music Path.
So how’d you get started playing the guitar?
I was into music when I was a teenager, but not rock and roll. I was into folk music and blues. My dad had some flamenco records and I would always try to copy them. I also took lessons. Starting on [flamenco] guitar definitely helped be because when I first started playing rock and roll electric guitar I used the same techniques as I’d learned on the flamenco, so I never used a pick. I always used finger picking, and I think that made me sound different from everyone else.
You collaborated on two more original Doors albums after the death of Jim Morrison. What was that process like for you?
It wasn’t easy. When you have a singer like Jim Morrison you can’t just replace him. When Jim had gone to Paris we fully expected him to come back, so we kept working on new songs. We decided that Ray Manzarek and I would sing, and see what happens. A lot of people really liked those two albums. We didn’t want to replace Jim Morrison because that would be a dishonor.
What has the creative process taught you?
I think it’s good to go as deep into your mind as you can, and try to find what’s at the basis of everything, and not just what may be happening right now.
What’s one of the most memorable moments of your career?
Writing “Light my Fire.” I had never really written a whole song before. Jim was writing the songs, and he asked us to write some too because we didn’t have enough originals. I asked him, “What should I write about?” And he said to just write about something universal, something that won’t go out of style next year. So I figured I would write about the four elements—earth, air, fire or water. I picked fire because I always liked that song by The Rolling Stones, “Play with Fire.”
What’s the goal of your charity, The Music Path?
It’s really important. The Music Path is to get music back in schools, but not just band like most schools have. This is more to teach kids to get together and just play music and form their own bands. A lot of people are interested in The Music Path because I think music has been lacking in schools lately. Music is important for kids to learn because it’s like a different language.
You have a brand new studio. What kind of music will you be creating there?
I just finished building the studio. It’s called Horse Latitudes, which is one of The Doors songs, and we concentrate on the ’60s sound of analog tape recorders. I think the big problem with music today is that it’s become so digitally mastered. Anybody can make a song on a computer now, and because of that everything is kind of sounding the same.
What can Doors fans expect when they see you perform at Suffolk Theater?
For these shows coming up it’s just going to be The Doors stuff. I’ve got my son Waylon singing and he does a really good job, as well as guys who’ve played with Ray Manzarek and me over the last 20 years. It’ll be a total Doors show.
Robby Krieger will be at Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main Street, Riverhead, on Saturday, September 24 at 8 p.m. For more information visit suffolktheater.com or call 631-727-4343.