The Doors' Robby Krieger Recalls 'Difficult' Third Album, Shares Rough Mix of 'Spanish Caravan': Exclusive

K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns
The Doors photographed in 1968.

The Doors' 50th anniversary celebrations -- including this fall's commemoration of the group's third album, 1968's Waiting For The Sun, whose rough mix of "Spanish Caravan" premieres exclusively below -- is becoming old hat for guitarist Robby Krieger.

"It's kinda cool," Krieger tells Billboard. "But I hate to hear that term 50 years. I'd rather it be 30...."

Produced and remastered by original Doors engineer Bruce Botnick, the Waiting For The Sun 50th anniversary deluxe edition comes out Sept. 14 and features 14 unreleased tracks, including nine rough mixes and five live tracks from a Copenhagen concert in 1968. For Krieger it recalls a "difficult" period for the Doors, one that encompassed the dreaded "third album syndrome" and also coincided with frontman Jim Morrison's burgeoning infatuation with drinking. "We had enough songs for two albums before we ever went in to record the first album, but by the time the third album rolled around you're kind of out of songs," Krieger recalls. "So I ended up writing more of the songs for the third album. I got to do stuff like 'Spanish Caravan' and 'Yes, The River Knows,' stuff like that. We created some stuff right there in the studio, like 'Five To One.' And Jim was starting to get into his drunken stage, although he came up with some great stuff, too." 

Krieger chalks up Morrison's drinking as a function of the Doors' process at the time. "By the time of the third album we had enough money really spend a lot of time in the studio recording," he says. "It wasn't like the first album, which was done in 10 days. So Jim would get really bored 'cause you'd spend six hours on snare drum sound and the vocal is always the last thing to be recorded. So he'd be sitting around all day and he got really bored and he would end up going to the bar and getting wasted and was useless after that." Morrison also developed an interest in Quaaludes, according to Krieger -- and wasn't helped by a growing population of sycophants. "It was tough," remembers Krieger, noting that he, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and drummer John Densmore favored LSD and Transcendental Meditation at the time. "(Producer) Paul Rothchild had to yell and scream a couple times and throw people out of the studio. It was kind of crazy."

Waiting For The Sun was nevertheless the Doors' lone No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, also topping the Hot 100 with the single "Hello, I Love You." "In those days it was more about singles," Krieger says, "and we were more excited when a single went No. 1 'cause it was on the radio and you played it on TV and stuff like that. An album was cool to be No. 1, but it was just more of a, 'Hey, we're gonna make some cash on that one,' 'cause usually they didn't stay at No. 1 for longer than a couple of weeks." The new live tracks, meanwhile, came from a tape owned by a private collector who "had it for years and was trying to get a lot of money for it. Finally he became more reasonable and we were able to use it."

Krieger says discussions have not begun yet for a 50th anniversary reissue of 1969's The Soft Parade, though he's certainly there will be one. More live tapes are also in and being added to the Doors' vault, and the guitarist is still hoping to release a recording from last year's tribute concert for the late Manzarek. Krieger will be hitting the road with his own band on the East Coast this fall to play shows comprised of the Doors ' music, and he's still trying to get Densmore to join him on stage more often. "He's got tinnitus pretty bad, and he doesn't like to get up and whack on the drums with loud monitors and stuff anymore," Krieger says. "I'm always trying to get him to come and play at my St. Jude's (Hospital) benefit, which is in October, so I’m working on him for that. Hopefully he'll make that one, but it's tough to get John to play anywhere now."