The Doors’ Robby Krieger Talks 50th Anniversary Plans, Re-Releases & Newly Unearthed Recordings
The Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore are eying their famed band’s 50th anniversary in 2017 as an opportunity to do some special things — including their overdue tribute to late keyboardist Ray Manzarek.
“There’ll be something cool happening,” guitarist Krieger told Billboard. “I can’t say exactly what yet, but we never did get our tribute to Ray thing going, so it’ll be part of that, for sure, and probably for Jim [Morrison], too.”
The Doors actually formed in 1965 but released their first two albums during 1967. Morrison died in 1971, while Manzarek passed away in 2013 after he and Krieger had reunited to play Doors music under several different names — mostly owing to legal maneuvering with Densmore and the Morrison estate.
But the guitarist and drummer reconciled in the wake of Manzarek’s death and are looking forward to giving the Doors its proper 50th anniversary due.
“Forty [years] was pretty weird. Forty-eight’s pretty weird, too, so I don’t think about it too much,” Krieger said with a chuckle. “For some reason people still love the Doors’ music and I can tell you that it’s still fun to play. I think that’s a good indicator right there; If people still like to play it then people still like to listen to it. I’ve played on a lot of records that I wouldn’t even care about hearing again or playing live, but for some reason the Doors songs are still fun to play.”
While those plans are being formulated, the Doors camp recently dipped into the vaults again for something fans have been asking about for years — the re-release of 1971’s Other Voices and 1972’s Full Circle, the two albums the group recorded after Morrison’s death. Together, the albums capture a band reeling from the loss but also resolute to carry on and, perhaps, remind fans of what was often eclipsed by the cult of personality surrounding the shaman-like frontman Morrison.
“That was kind of a weird time,” Krieger recalled, “because it’s really all we knew how to do. Obviously we weren’t going to replace Jim, ’cause it wouldn’t be fair to try and do that. So we had to make the decision — Do we just give up and go our own ways, or, we had this great band musically and at that point we still got along really well and so we decided, ‘Hey, let’s just record this stuff and see how it turns out.'”
More than 40 years later, Krieger — who shared lead vocals on the two albums with Manzarek — is generally pleased with what he hears.
“I think they sound pretty good,” he said. “It sounds really good to me, in fact. Of course, I kinda hate to hear my own voice, always, but after not hearing it for so long I was pleasantly surprised. We had kinda just let [the albums] flounder for so long; we really didn’t think there was much of a market for them, even though they sold fairly well back then. But little by little we’ve been getting a lot of requests for those two albums, people saying ‘Hey, what about Other Voices and Full Circle?’ And after awhile we realized there was quite a market for them, so we finally talked to [Rhino Records] and got it going. That was, like, 10 years ago, and it took us this long to get around to it.”
The Doors’ vaults, of course, have been prodigious with previously unreleased live recordings and compilations. The Doors camp also recently acquired a new batch of tapes from a collector that are currently being investigated to see what might be culled. “We’re hoping there’s some good stuff in there, but I’m not holding my breath,” said Krieger, who’s also working on a new album with his current band Jam Kitchen. “I really don’t know what it is. I don’t know if they’re multi-tracks or two-tracks, but they’re definitely tape. If there’s anything worthwhile you can bet we’ll do something with them.”