The legendary guitarist and songwriter of The Doors and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Robby Krieger will be releasing his first solo album in a decade on April 24, 2020. The Ritual Begins At Sundown will be released by The Players Club, a division of Mascot Label Group.
The Doors weren’t just one of the most iconic bands of their generation, but one of the most influential bands in rock history and Robby Krieger was responsible for writing some of their biggest hits in “Light My Fire,” “Love Me Two Times,” “Touch Me” and “Love Her Madly.”
Krieger returns for his ninth solo album, and his first since 2010s Grammy nominated Singularity, once again with his long-time writing partner and co-producer Arthur Barrow. Barrow worked with Frank Zappa through the 1970s-80s as well as Giorgio Moroder, Joe Cocker, Diana Ross and Janet Jackson, and worked on soundtracks for Top Gun andScarface. The album also features other Zappa alumni Jock Ellis (Trombone), Sal Marquez (Trumpet) and Tommy Mars (Keys), as well as AeB Bryne (Flute), Vince Denim (Sax), Chuck Manning (Sax), Joel Wackerman (Drums) and Joel Taylor (Drums). Krieger shares, “I was hanging out with my buddy Arthur Barrow and we had some songs we had been fooling around with then we got some other friends involved.”
The legacy of The Doors is enormous and a testament to this is the number of awards and accolades that have come their way. These include induction in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Library of Congress selected their debut for inclusion in the National Recording Registry based on its cultural, artistic and historical significance. As of 2017, Los Angeles city council has given them their own day, ‘The Day of the Doors’ every year. There was even a Hollywood biopic, directed by Oliver Stone on them.
Not many musicians can claim to have performed beside a visibly excited Lady Gaga like Krieger did in December last year, had Marilyn Manson who is a huge fan join him on stage, as well as being asked to guest with everyone from The Ramones to John Mayer, Stone Temple Pilots to Creed, and Alice in Chains to Alice Cooper. Elsewhere other acts to be influenced by The Doors includes Joy Division, Iggy Pop, The Strokes, Mazzy Star and not to mention Echo & The Bunnymen, who did an iconic version of ‘People Are Strange’ for the Lost Boys (1987) movie.
So ingrained into popular culture is his music that it has also been sampled from everyone from Jay-Z to chase and Status, Snoop Dogg to Orbital and Fatboy Slim, and he even collaborated with Skrillex. Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp invited Krieger in to work on their debut Hollywood Vampires album, whilst Depp also narrated the Grammy winning documentary on The Doors ‘When You’re Strange’ and Krieger appeared on the Foo Fighters ‘Sonic Highways’ documentary. Generation after generation has been inspired.
The Ritual Begins At Sundown is a ten-song instrumental record which was recorded at his own Horse Latitudes Studio in Los Angeles and features nine originals and one cover, the Frank Zappa song “Chunga’s Revenge.” To understand where he is for the album now, you need to go right back to the beginning when he was on the exploding jazz scene. Krieger explains, “When I wrote songs for The Doors, it was always the music first. I think you have to have some musical ability to really understand Jazz. When I was young, I didn’t really understand it. It took me a while. I was going to the clubs with John Densmore – before The Doors – to really get an appreciation of Jazz. We used to go see Wes Montgomery, Roland Kirk, Miles Davis, stuff like that. At first, I didn’t really get it, but after a while it sank in and I always loved it after that.”
The album really is a return to friends with his relationship with Barrow and Sal Marquez dating all the way back to his first solo album. “After The Doors I started becoming interested in Jazz and started hanging out with a guy called Sal Marquez,” he says. “So, we put this band together and that was the first Robby Krieger band and we played at the Whiskey A-Go-Go with Don Preston, Zappa’s keyboard player. Arthur Barrow who was a huge Zappa fan – this was before he worked with Frank – he decided that, after graduating from North Texas State music school that he was gonna come out to LA and try to get into Frank’s band, which was pretty brash of him,” he laughs. “He started hanging out with Don and with Zappa, Don was in my band so we decided to put Arthur in charge of the mixing at the Whiskey for our shows, that’s when I first met him in the 70s.”
Krieger’s influence spans generations, from Alice Cooper, who when playing the Sunset Strip for the first time in the 70s, was taken under the wing of The Doors and said of Krieger, “I never heard a guitar player like this, he did things with the guitar that nobody’s ever done.” William Duvall (Alice in Chains) has proclaimed that “Robby Krieger is one of my absolute heroes,” whilst John Garcia (Kyuss) got the opportunity to have Krieger guest on his album in 2015 and said “I will never forget that experience for the rest of my life, it truly made the song better, not to mention the entire record.” Other plaudits have come in from Ritchie Sambora who said “People do not know how good he is.”
When he’s not being joined on stage by Marilyn Manson or Lady Gaga, contemporary bands like Blossoms, Wooden Ships and Greta van Fleet have also declared their admiration. Greta van Fleet’s Sam Kiszka proclaimed his love saying, “Robby Krieger is one of the most fantastic guitarists, one of the most inventive and the most unpredictable guitarists I’ve ever heard. His sound was the heart of the Doors – eerie, weird, jazzy. Scary at times but sometimes beautiful. He’s one of the most underrated guitarists of all time. Great writer, too”
In more recent years, Krieger has embraced painting, and you can see one of his most recent works on the cover of his album and as he reflects on ‘The Ritual..’ he says, “I kinda write for myself, I don’t expect to have any more hits like ‘Light My Fire’” laughing he continues, “but you never know.”