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The Manzarek/Krieger Interview

Parts of this interview can be heard on the 2 x 7" boxset, "The Doors Tapes", released by Final Vinyl in 1992. Recently, I discovered an unsold quantity of boxes. They are now available on eBay. For more details, click HERE.

This interview took place at Blake's Hotel in London on the afternoon of November lst,1983.

Rockmine: Let's see, "Rock Is Dead" and "No Limits, No Laws"...

Krieger: Uh huh. Well, "Rock Is Dead" we did one evening in L.A. I think we were in the midst of recording ... "Soft Parade" I believe and it was just one drunken evening of everybody going crazy.

Rockmine: There's a rumour that that was at one time scheduled for a complete album.

Krieger: Well, not really. Some people had it in their minds that it would make a good album but it wasn't really good enough for release. Some of it was but as a whole, I don't think ... It was a good idea for a concept but it was really just more or less a demo.

Rockmine: Before The Doors there was The Psychedelic Rangers.

Manzarek: Ah ... The Psychedelic Rangers, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore. Robbie, take it..

Rockmine: Was that really just out of the Maharishi's meditation centre?

Krieger: No that was before meditation. It was when John and I were in High School we had a group called the Psychedelic Rangers in ... A couple of friends of ours, a guy named David Wolfe; another guy named Grant Johnstone ... and we were probably the first group ever to use the word psychedelic in their name.

Rockmine: Is that the only band you were in before The Doors? John was in another one wasn't he?

Krieger: Well John played a lot in a couple of groups in High School. Jazz groups, I don't know if they had names or not and I was in another group called the Smokey Links ... Actually it was called The Clouds.

Manzarek: What about The Chamber ... Back Bay Chamber Pot Terriers?

Krieger: That's true, that was a jug band that I was in ... Back Bay Chamber Pot Terriers (laughs).

Rockmine: What were your influences in those days?

Krieger: Flamenco was my big guitar influence but I also liked Folk music, Bob Dylan and that kinda stuff; Joan Baez and Jug Band music.

Rockmine: How about you Ray? Were you in anything?

Manzarek: Well, let's see ... Hi! This is Ray Manzarek of The Doors talking to you. My influences ... Let's talk about influences. My influences were Jazz, Blues and Rock & Roll. Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis. In the Jazz world I was influenced by, I guess, Miles Davis. All the keyboard players that played with Miles Davis ... and John Coltrane was also influential. Also Ramsay Lewis as a funky piano player. Um ... Classical music, I studied Classical Music when I was a kid. I took lessons as we all do. Piano lessons; "Well Raymond it's time for you to take piano lessons". You're seven, eight years old so go ahead and start playing the piano. So, I studied some Bach, you know, a little Tschaikowsky and Rachmaninoff ... nothing real serious. Rock and roll was the answer, rock and roll held the whole thing. I grew up on the south side of Chicago, listened to lots of Blues, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reid, John Lee Hooker, people like that and put them all together into The Doors.

Before The Doors, I was in a band called Rick And The Ravens and we worked at The Turkey Joint west in Santa Monica,California.

Rockmine: Okay, the big question, who was the "unknown" female bassist you had?

Manzarek: Well, that's the unknown question. That's a big question but she's unknown. We were talking about that the other day. I to this day have no idea what that girl's name was. No-one knows. I don't think she knows that she did what she did and I certainly don't. I have no idea who this person was.

Rockmine: Of the tracks on that (Rick and The Ravens demo tape) there's one which seems to go under two names, "Little Game" and "Let's Go Insane".

Manzarek: Um, Yes ... "Go Insane" ... I think it was "Go Insane" to begin with and then it became "A Little Game". I think it started off as "Go Insane".

Krieger: Do you have a copy of that by the way?

Rockmine: Yeah.

Krieger: See, he has a copy.

Manzarek: That's amazing, there are very few people that have copies of that.

Krieger: No, there's not. Millions of people have that.

Manzarek: Millions of people have copies of that? How do they get did they get it? Where did it come from?

Krieger: Your brother.

Manzarek: My brother's bootlegging it. Is that it? He's bootlegging them out of Lake Isabella.

Rockmine: What's Rick Manzarek doing now?

Manzarek: He's up in Lake Isabella, California and my parents have a store; a liquor store overlooking the lake and they sell booze and bait. (laughter) You can either fish with the bait or if you're too drunk you can eat the bait and it's sort of like a mountain resort area where people do a lot of trout fishing. They've dammed up the Kern River and made a watershed behind it and it's called Lake Isabella; gorgeous area. So that's where Rick is and my brother Jim is living in El Secundo, California on the beach and works for the City Of Los Angeles as a judicial person. He's a judge's assistant and that's what they're up to.

Rockmine: Now,the old story goes that you met Jim Morrison on the beach and he read you some of the poetry.

Manzarek: Met Jim on the beach and he read "Moonlight Drive" to me. Actually, he sang "Moonlight Drive". He sat down on the beach and ...em ... Jim, a lot of times would have a melody line in mind and he had a melody for "Moonlight Drive" and sort of heard ... I guess he heard the whole song in his head and when he did those famous lines, "Let's swim .................... For obvious copyright reasons, I'm not quoting the whole verse ...................... city sleeps to hide". It was magic, just magic. I thought he was just fabulous and I could hear everything that would be going on behind it, playing keyboards behind it. Well, this is great ... what do we do now. Now, we have to get a guitar player, a bass player, a drummer and fortunately at that time I was involved in the Maharishi's meditation and who should be in that very same class? The initiation class; series of six lectures before you get your magic word, your mantra. In that class were, as fate would have it, John Densmore and Robbie Krieger and that's how The Doors got together. Somebody pointed out that John was a drummer and I went up to him and said we were getting this band together and he pointed to Robbie and said "that guy plays guitar". I said well, let's get together and have a rehearsal and we rehearsed and I think the first song we played was "Moonlight Drive" and the magic was there. It was incredible. We passed around an inebriating substance that you would roll into a cigarette shape and we all inhaled this this inebriating substance amd then proceeded to play "Moonlight Drive" and it was magic. I remember that day to this day. I remember playing it and saying that I played music with a lot of people for a long time but I never really understood what playing music was all about until I got together with John Densmore, Robbie Krieger and Jim Morrison.

Rockmine: So, at first you were all working under the name of Rick and The Ravens before you became The Doors?

Manzarek: No.

Rockmine: But there's a recorded version of "Moonlight Drive" on the demo tape that Rick and The Ravens did.

Manzarek: Yes ... Yes ... Yes.

Rockmine: Okay ... So, in the beginning, you were playing at The London Fog. Now there's a story that you managed to con the manager into signing you because you got something like eighty of your friends in to see you.

Manzarek: (laughs) Exactly, everybody we knew ... (laughs) ... Everybody we knew. We invited them all down and said listen, we're auditioning at this club on the strip and we need it, you know. We've gotta get a gig, everybody come down. What was the owner's name?

Krieger: Jesse James.

Manzarek: (laughing) ... what a bandit ... Jesse James ... and we got the gig because the owner thought "God, these guy's are good, this place is packed". Next night it was back to the usual seven people in the place. Three musieians, a bartender, a go-go girl and maybe two or three customers all night. What a place!

Krieger: That's how it usually was.

Rockmine: Then you went to The Whiskey. Now that must have been quite a change of furtune because at that time you were backing all the major bands on the West Coast. Who got you that slot?

Manzarek: Well, the booking agent from The Whiskey-A-Go-Go, Ronnie Harrin, a wonderful 20th Century Fox type of girl from Los Angeles. Sunset Strip go-go kinda girl, go-go boots and all that and she was in charge of hiring the bands at The Whiskey-A-Go-Go. She came down the street, took one look at Jim, fell instantly in love with him and liked the music also and said to us on our last night at the London Fog, she said, "I want you guys to start on Monday as the house band. You will be the opening act for the headliners at The Whiskey-A-Go-Go and we all said, "Yippee !". Jim,of course said "oh, we'll have to think about it - I'll call you tomorrow and he thought about it for about five seeonds and we all said "Yes, are you kidding? ... absolutely". Not only that, we made union scale. It was actually a union gig. At The London Fog, we made $10 a night. At The Whiskey-A-Go-Go we were up to $ 25 a night each.

Krieger: At The London Fog, we made $ 10 for the whole band.

Manzarek: We were rich! We could finally pay the rent.

Rockmine: I was told it was Arthur Lee that got Jac Holzman to come along and see you. Was that correct?

Manzarek: Arthur Lee from Love.

Krieger: Well Ronnie Harrin will tell you that she did it but Arthur said he did it and a couple of other people claim that responsibility too.

Manzarek: Well, I didn't. Robbie didn't do it and I didn't do it. Neither one of us brought Jac Holzman down but thank God he came by.

Rockmine: Seemingly he had to turn up quite a few times before he decided on signing the band.

Manzarek: Well, it did take him one or two times before he was convinced that the band was worthy of being an Elektra Records recording artist ... Well they had Love ... I was going to say they didn't have any rock and roll bands but they had Love, they had Butterfield, Paul Butterfield and The Electric Blues Band and all that stuff that Butterfield was doing. I guess what did it for him was when he heard "The Whisky Bar", when he heard "The Alabama Song", he thought "Oh,these guys are okay, they have some historical sense about them."

Rockmine: Was "The Alabama Song" ever separated from "Back Door Man"?

Manzarek: Oh yes ... well, you know on the recording it was but ... Yeah, in person too. We didn't start doing it as a medley until halfway through our career, I suppose; but at first we would play the entire song. Then it got to the point where in concert ... if you're only doing one concert and you've got approximately an hour up there and you can't do all the songs ... So we thought, "listen, how can we do "The Alabama Song" without having to do the whole song? ... Ah, let's put it together with "Back Door Man" and put that together with "Five To One". They're all in the same key. They have a similar tempo, we can just go from one to the other ... and that was always a lot of fun for us.

Rockmine: Do you want to go through some of the songs on the album and then we'll pick up on some other bits afterwards. Do you want to grab something to eat?

The tape was switched off while plates of sandwiches were brought for Robbie and Ray.

Kreieger: It's really funny, Phillip Chinn the bass player with Rod Stewart and The Butts Band, he came to the States. The first time he came he was staying at The Continental Hyatt House and he wanted to get something to eat, you know - not a lot but just something. So he said, "Well I think I'll get some sandwiches". Like when you're in London, you say can we have a bunch of sandwiches; and the guy says, "Well how many do you want?" - and he goes "Oh, about ten or fifteen". So they brought him fifteen club sandwiches. These giant things you know on fifteen plates.

Manzarek: Oh, that's hysterical. In America sandwiches are enormous. You would never get a little sandwich like this ... huge sandwiches ... oh God, I can imagine fifteen sandwiches.

Rockmine: Is it ten years since you've been in the U.K.?

Krieger: Well, no ... We came here a couple of years ago to do ... (Manzarek: '78) ... "The American Prayer". That's five years ago actually.

Manzarek: Boy, it has been time actually. Too long. It certainly is fun here ... wonderful ... wonderful being back.

Rockmine: There are some questions I have about the "American Prayer" sessions. The tapes that have leaked out include another thirty or forty minutes. I believe five hours was taped. Why didn't you use the rest of it?

Manzarek: Edit! The first rule of art ... edit ... edit ... cut ... cut ... cut. Mercilessly - cut, cut, cut ... edit, edit, edit. You have to edit. You have to cut. It's one of the things you have to do ... you know. It would be great to put it out, put all of it out. That would be for a real Doors fan. That would be for a Jim Morrison afficionado. That's for a person who wants to know what Jim's all about but in terms of a record, I think a record should have a strong impact and not have any boring moments to it and not have any overly esoteric bits that are only pertinent to a small group of people. So we tried to give the record all the impact and punch it could possibly have. It needed editing, you know. There's five hours of stuff but you know it's not all good; some of it is not a good performance, some of it's a repeat and it's broken up in bits and pieces and Jim was getting progressively more drunk as the evening was progressing. He had his bottle with him and started off fine and by the end of the evening ... Actually, there are some very funny things we did want to put on. There was a lot of laughing. He was having a very, very good time.

Rockmine: There's a tape of Jim sitting at a piano, playing a thing about his brother Frederick. Where does that come from?

Krieger: (laughs) That's from "Feast Of Friends" and that was ... God, where was that?

Manzarek: Saratoga Springs, New York. An outdoor venue and he's telling a story of Frederick Nietzche and its about Nietzche.

Krieger: It wasn't really his brother.

Manzarek: Only in the mind.

Rockmine: Am I correct in assuming that Corky Courson now has the rights to the "American Prayer" sessions, or the poetry readings at least?

Manzarek: Yes, he controls James Douglas Morrison publishing. Sorry, Jim I didn't want it that way but Corky's got it so that's the way it goes.

Rockmine: One last thing before we go on. Why did Bill Siddons fly to Paris and why didn't one of you three?

Manzarek: Yeah, why didn't you go ...?

Krieger: Well, we thought, so many times in the past we'd heard reports that Jim was dead or Jim's in jail so we'd just say to our manager, Bill Siddons, "Bill, go check that out". Well, this report seemed to be of enough seriousness that we said "Bill, go to Paris and see what's really happening over there", 'cos Jim had been away for quite a while. We hadn't heard from him in a couple of weeks I guess and so Siddons went over to check it out and the unfortunate thing was he never actually saw Jim's body ... There was a coffin in the room there and I doubt there were sand bags in it or anything like that but still I wish that Bill had actually opened the coffin and seen the body.

Rockmine: Have you visited the grave?

Manzarek: Yes.

Rockmine: Was that before it got into the state it's in now?

Manzarek: Well, I think it got into the state it's in now immediately (laughs). I think one week later the grave was filled with graffitti, instantly. I think that's gonna be the state of that grave for quite a while.

Rockmine: Have you any idea who put the bust there?

Manzarek: A Yugoslavian sculptor. We were going to have a sort of international sculpture competition to design a marker for Jim's grave ... but, I can imagine some poor guy labouring over this wonderful work of art and then we put it up on the grave and then the next day it's filled with graffitti ... people painting on it and writing on it, you know. So I think its better off just to sort of wait ... We'll wait until everyone's finished with their writing their notes to Jim Morrison but I know Jim would love the way the grave is. It's a living memorial, it's alive. It's not not just some kind of ... "Ooo, don't touch that ... Ooo that's the body of ... Oh and the grave ... We must be very respectful ... Bullshit! The man's alive. His spirit is alive. His spirit animates all the people who come to visit his grave and they are trying to communicate with Jim. I think it's wonderful. I think he'd happy about it too. It's not desecration ... instead, it's just the opposite, the man's alive.

Rockmine: I was there about a month ago. There were kids playing Doors tapes ...

Manzarek: We went over there on July 3rd 1981 for the tenth anniversary party at Jim Morrison's grave side. It was great and we had a grand time ... five hundred people there ... tape recorders, wine ... you know we spent five, six hours there getting totally drunk. People just singing and having a wonderful time and that's the way it should be. I'd love to have a celebration going on at my grave every day like Jim has.

Rockmine: (Holding up "Alive She Cried") Can we hit this now?

Manzarek: Now here we are in the UK with a new Doors album called "Alive She Cried". Some wonderful cuts on here and hopefully you'll be able to hear some of these right in this very show ... Are you going to play some of these songs?

Rockmine: That, in case you wonder, is some of the tapes around.

Manzarek: God, I have to get some of these things. That's incredible. I had no idea all this stuff existed. That's great.

Krieger: Now, do you have all these?

Rockmine: Yeah.

Manzarek: ... Singer Bowl. Boy, oh boy, oh boy, I'd like to hear what happened at The Singer Bowl.

Rockmine: You mean you folks don't have everything?

Manzarek: No Robbie does. I have hardly any of these.

Krieger: Not all of these ... So you have the PBS TV "Critique" show.

Manzarek: We're trying to find the damned video tape and I don't know where it is. They don't seem to know either unfortunately ... Toronto Pop Festival, that was a lot of fun that was with John and Yoko ... that was really good...

Krieger: ... as well as Little Richard and all those people.

Manzarek: I want that, let me have that. It seems to be a copy or is this ...

Rockmine: No, hold onto that. If you haven't got any of them and want any, that's the 'phone number. Just give me an address and they'll be sent wherever you want.

Manzarek: That's great ... fantastic ... do you have a Carmina Burana record by any chance?

Rockmine: Yes, I do and I've really enjoyed it.

Manzarek: (laughing) Well, thank you ... (Going back to Alive She Cried) ... Well we have "Gloria", a wonderful version of "Gloria" on "Alive She Cried". "Gloria" was recorded in Los Angeles at The Aquarius Theater ...

Rockmine: What date was that?

Manzarek: Well, it was not after 1971. What date is this, man, I don't know ...?

Rockmine: When you used to play The London Fog, "Gloria" was one of the numbers....

Manzarek: "Gloria" was one of our staples with "Little Red Rooster", "Money", "Louie Louie", "Midnight Hour" ... We used to play "The Midnight Hour". We had to. We played four sets a night and we didn't have four sets of original material and we had to fill the time somehow, so "Gloria" was certainly one of the songs we played and when it came time to do the soundcheck at the Aquarius Theater ... We were going to do two shows in the evening and this was in the afternoon. We had our tape recorders and microphones all set up and instead of doing one of our songs, Jim said, "Hey, let's not do "Light My Fire" for a soundcheck or anything. God, we're gonna have to play it tonight, twice, so let's do "Gloria" and everyone went "Gloria" ... Yeah ... we haven't done that in a long time ... alright, let's get into it. Let's do "Gloria" and have some fun with it. So Jim got a bit sensual with it. Let's put it that way ... the words, eh? ... He was making it all up as he was going along, you know ... we hadn't done it ... I don't think we'd ever done it exactly that way and we hadn't played it for years ... London Fog, Whiskey-A-Go-Go days. So it was a real treat to hear him singing it and also a lot of fun to hear him take off on it and do some improvisation on it ... "Light My Fire" is of course "Light My Fire". Everyone knows ~Light My Fire". There's nothing much to say about "Light My Fire".

Rockmine: Where does this one come from?

Manzarek: I'm not sure. This either comes from Detroit, New York or Boston.

Rockmine: New York is the Felt Forum isn't it?

Manzarek: Yes. I think it could be from New York because "Little Red Rooster" is obviously from New York.

Rockmine: Why weren't they included on "Absolutely Live" because you were taping those shows for "Absolutely Live"?

Krieger: Well, "Light My Fire" was ... you know ... we had considered it for "Absolutely Live" but we figured that song had gotten all the publicity in the past and we wanted the public to hear some of our less known songs, you know. So we figured let's not put "Light My Fire" on this album. Let them hear some of the more obscure ones and luckily we saved it and it's out on this album.

Manzarek: Including Jim Morrison poetry and Manzarek and Krieger stretching out on the guitar and keyboards.

Rockmine: I was quite surprised to hear "Graveyard Poem" because I'd only heard it before on the poetry session.

Manzarek: Oh Jim live, would do all kinds of things.

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