Robby Krieger spends much of his autobiography setting the record straight.
Not settling scores. Setting the record straight.
It’s necessary because “No One Here Gets out Alive” – the “supposedly canonical Doors biography,” he calls it – and the film “The Doors” (“a movie very loosely based on our lives”) perpetuated a lot of myths. And while those myths and imagined mysteries about Jim Morrison’s death – if Morrison died – may be fun, they’re not based in reality.
But they were a good marketing strategy on the part of Ray Manzarek, who contributed heavily to the book and film, Krieger writes in “Set the Night on Fire: Living, Dying and Playing Guitar with the Doors.”
“The source of so many Doors myths can be traced back to Ray, and he went so far with it that he convinced himself of some of his bullshit,” the guitarist says as he recalls visiting Morrison’s Paris grave with the keyboardist, who sensed the singer’s body was not there.
“Come on, Ray. Jesus Christ,” was Krieger’s response.
Writing with Jeff Alulis (“NOFX,” Dead Kennedys), Krieger traces the arc of the Doors – including the group’s two-album, post-Morrison run and the intraband kerfuffle over the Doors of the 21st Century that pitted drummer John Densmore against Krieger and Manzarek – and his own life and low-key solo career.
Krieger writes candidly about his wealthy upbringing and 1980s heroin addiction, freely admits what is lost to memory and recasts the Doors as a relatively normal 1960s rock ‘n’ roll band. And Krieger – married to the same woman for 50-plus years – also comes off as relatively normal.
“Set the Night on Fire” is not linear. Chapters about Doors albums and tours bounce back and forth between others covering various portions of Krieger’s life before, after and outside of the band. While this narrative tool gives the book a different flow than the typical rock bio, it also muddies the waters, often leaving the reader to wonder if he missed something before Krieger jumps back or forward several decades and picks up the last abandoned thread.
It’s ultimately a minor inconvenience as Krieger’s book is lucid, intelligent and engrossing. Most importantly, it puts the Doors story back on the ground and humbly describes a career that’s been made a parody of itself for far too long.