The Doors Distinctive Fret Master
What was the spark that ignited your
interest in guitar?
I liked classical music at first. My father bought
me a record of Peter and the Wolf that I liked
as a kid, and my mother played the radio a lot
and was into Frank Sinatra. Elvis Presley was
the first rock ’n’ roll that grabbed my attention.
When Elvis came on the radio, it was like night
and day. He was my favorite. From there, I discovered Fats Domino, the Platters, and other
blues-based stuff. I searched my dad’s record
collection, and he had blues 78s that I wish I
had kept. I liked boogie-woogie piano a lot too,
but that sounded dated compared to Elvis.
Who were your early guitar heroes
I didn’t zone in much on the guitar at first on
Elvis records. I liked the echo of the guitar, but
didn’t know if it was Scotty Moore. My dad
had flamenco records, and I liked that guitar
playing best. Sabicas was probably the greatest flamenco guitarist. He was very underrated
and he came up with different forms of the
style. I was influenced by him, as well as Mario
Escudero and Carlos Montoya, who practically
invented flamenco guitar. I got into blues when
I was in high school. I listened to Blind Willie
Johnson, Blind Willie Mc Tell, Mance Lipscomb,
and, of course, Robert Johnson. I also got into
folk music. Bob Dylan was my favorite, but I also
liked Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bud & Travis, and
Woody Guthrie. They were all big influences.
Did you study guitar?
Yes. To play Flamenco, you had to have a
teacher—unless you were a good musician
already and could copy all that stuff off the
record. I took lessons and did a lot of practicing. My first guitar was a Mexican Ramírez
classical, which was a knockoff of the better Spanish-made Ramírez guitars. I have
a Spanish one made in 1963 that my dad
bought for me while he was on a business
trip to Spain.
Which jazz guitarists did you listen to
I like Larry Carlton, Pat Martino, and John
Scofield, among others, but Stanley Jordan is
my favorite jazz player.
You’re most known for playing a Gibson
SG Standard. How did you come to use
Before I played electric guitars, I knew nothing about them. But then I saw Chuck Berry
and had to get one. I went to a pawnshop
and all I could afford was a used Gibson SG
Standard—it cost me $180. That was the guitar I used in the Doors. I played ES-335s and
ES-355s also, but I always went back to the
SG. It’s the most comfortable guitar for me. It
does what I need it to do and always has.
Do you still have that original SG?
No, it was stolen a long time ago. I found a
’ 67 that’s almost identical to the one I had,
and I still use that one all the time.
Tell me about Gibson’s recent Robby
Krieger SG reissue.
I’m happy with it. They copied the ’ 67 SG I
have now. I didn’t like that guitar’s original
neck, so the neck on it is actually a copy of a
friend’s ’ 61 SG Junior that I preferred. Gibson