The most infamous episode in the history of The Doors never happened. After that 1969 Miami recital, 15 of their concerts were cancelled, they stopped earning a million dollars, their songs were banned from many American radio stations and Jim Morrison, their leader, was sentenced to six months in prison, which he dodged with the payment. on a $50,000 bail. His career was marked since then and never recovered. What happened in Miami? Morrison was said to have unzipped his fly at that recital and simulated masturbating; then he ran to where the guitarist was, knelt down and performed movements that were interpreted as representing fellatio. Today, that guitarist, Robby Krieger, says: “Simply, none of that happened.”

Krieger (Los Angeles, California, 76 years old) has just published a revealing book in which he unceremoniously brushes up the personality of Jim Morrison, denies stories about The Doors (some of which appeared in Oliver Stone’s film, The Doors), reveals his belated love of the heroine, analyzes the bitter fight in the courts of the three members of the group for the rights of the name after the death of the singer and details the history of a band essential to build the mythology of rock and roll. And he does it with continuous brushstrokes of irony. The quiet man of The Doors, the composer of classics like Light My Fire, has titled his memoir like this: Between life and death. Set the Night On Fire. Playing the guitar with The Doors (Alianza Editorial).

“Wait, the camera doesn’t work,” says Krieger as he is heard fiddling with little buttons. The interview is by video call. He is at his house in Los Angeles. “I’m here. Look, I’m missing two teeth.” And he shows his chipped teeth. Yes, Krieger has a great sense of humor. He says we caught him in the process of changing some of his teeth. “But I can speak well, huh?”, He rivets.

Krieger was the last to join The Doors, months after Jim Morrison (vocals) and Ray Manzarek (keyboards) formed the band in Los Angeles and then John Densmore (drums) joined. “At first I didn’t like it at all. Then I realized that they were so different from anything else that it was difficult to adapt to their style, “says Krieger, who arrived in time to record and participate in the composition since the first album, The Doors (1967).

 There was nothing like it in that Summer of Love in 1967: a band that exploited theatricality in its staging, with a poetic flight in Morrison’s lyrics, inclined to improvisation inherited from jazz and with three great instrumentalists and a magnetic vocalist. . And without bass in their concert performances (in the recordings they did hire instrumentalists of the four strings): the bass sounds were made by Manzarek with his organ. A group, too, conditioned by the hurricane behavior of its singer.

“In the beginning, when Jim and I were writing songs together at my parents’ house, it was wonderful, an unforgettable time. We experimented with LSD and there were no problems. But then Jim started drinking and we got into a crazy environment,” he explains. Much of the time, Krieger, Manzarek, and Densmore had to hold off their leader. Lower him to the ground, wake him up, make him see that he was mortal. They lived with a relevant artist, gifted for poetry, with a great voice and a powerful ability to transmit. “If he was sober he was the nicest person in the world. The problem was when he drank, and he drank a lot. He was transforming. He was the craziest guy I’ve ever met, hands down,” he recounts with a smile.

Krieger was almost always positioned to the left of the singer, playing, without a pick, with a mixture of purity and rock rebellion. He was the only one standing on the stage next to Morrison. The keyboard player and the drummer played sitting down. So he had to be aware of the unpredictable behavior of the singer, often violent, caused by the effect of alcohol. The Doors’ performances became a magnet for brawls. The spectators became fond of tearing up the seats and throwing them on the stage, there were invasions of the stage promoted by Morrison himself and many times the police took the stage to stop the concert and take someone arrested.

But that March 1, 1969 in Miami there was not even a chair launch because the promoters had removed them. “In fact, we said goodbye to the police with absolute calm. Jim said some ‘fuck you’ from the stage, as at every concert for the last three years. But everything was more or less normal. And all of a sudden we were making headlines in the newspapers,” says Krieger. A search warrant has been issued for Morrison. He was accused of indecent exposure and use of offensive language in public. The singer turned himself in to the police. “The trial that followed followed us through our entire career. For the first time Jim suffered the consequences of his actions. And, on top of that, it was the only time the consequences were completely unfair”, assumes the guitarist.

 Krieger’s lie detector stops at Oliver Stone’s 1991 film The Doors, starring, “brilliantly,” Val Kilmer. He claims that Stone features a drunk and cocky Morrison. “I’m not saying that he didn’t drink and that sometimes it wasn’t unbearable, but he didn’t go all day with a bottle in his hand. He was a shy and funny person. And when he crossed the line he would assume it the next day and he would feel bad. He had a character that made you feel like his best friend. More things: the singer appears in the film as a womanizer, but his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, was just as “shouldered”, says the guitarist. Neither did the public dance naked and set bonfires at The Doors concerts, although the filmmaker showed it that way. Summarizes Krieger: “The film succeeded in reviving public interest in the group, but it also alienated a lot of potential fans because they saw Jim as a drunk jerk and shallow. And it wasn’t like that.”

Outside of the film, another story that has permeated is that Morrison retired with his girlfriend to Paris because he was disenchanted with music and wanted to dedicate himself to poetry. He doesn’t convince Krieger either: “Where he felt fulfilled was on stage. Even in Paris he couldn’t resist participating in concerts with a local group. Jim had the demons out of him, but he exorcised them on stage.” A terrible moment arises in the book, when the author assumes some happiness at the death of the singer. “Well, happiness is not the word. I would say relief. It’s like he finally got what he wanted. Jim always talked about knowing what happened after death. And I really think that’s what he wanted. So I was relieved for him,” he notes.

Despite starting her book with a hilarious chapter titled The Worst Hairstyle in Rock (“I’ve always had to deal with my frizzy curls”), Krieger’s book tackles harsh and sometimes sordid themes. Like when he elaborates on his fall into heroin in his thirties and being a father. “All my idols had used heroin, people like John Coltrane, Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix. Some of my friends also started. And I said, stupidly: ‘Come on, let’s try it.’ I never should have done it because it does not bring anything good ”, he assumes today.

Morrison died on July 3, 1971 in Paris at age 27 while with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson. The official report said the cause was a heart attack, but there were always suspicions that it was a heroin overdose: no autopsy was done. Many followers do not forgive the three for having followed when the leader disappeared. They released two albums with the voices of Krieger and Manzarek. “Today it seems like a ridiculous decision, but then it had a certain logic. We had no choice: we didn’t know how to do anything else and we had signed a contract to release two more albums. There are some songs from those works [Oher Voices, 1971, and Full Circle, 1972] that I’m proud of. We still should have hired a singer, but they would have jumped on us too: replace Jim Morrison, how could they do that! Years later they did look for a vocalist, Ian Astbury, from The Cult, but at that time, in the early 2000s, they could no longer be called The Doors because the drummer, Densmore, did not want to participate and took them to court. He won and Manzarek and Krieger were touring with names like The Doors of the 21st Century. Pamela Courson died of an overdose in 1974, also aged 27.

 Krieger is a fan of flamenco. “My favorite flamenco guitarist is Sabicas. I saw him play a couple of times and he impressed me. He had small, stubby fingers. I don’t understand how he could play so well with them”. Despite battling addiction, cancer and bad teeth, Krieger continues to play clubs almost every week. In the coming months he will release two albums with the Robby Krieger Band, one reggae and one jazz.

Krieger has a son and in the next room where he is talking to this newspaper is his wife, Jim Morrison’s ex-girlfriend in the sixties and with whom he has been no less than 50 years. Jim Morrison, always Jim Morrison. Manzarek never assumed his death and affirmed that he was alive (no images of his corpse were seen). With his innate reticence, Krieger says goodbye: “Well, the truth is that I have never seen anyone who looks like Jim. But I’m still on the lookout just in case.”