Krieger was born in Los Angeles, California to a Jewish family. His father, an engineer, was a fan of marching music, and much of young Robby's early exposure to music was classical, including Peter and the Wolf, which was the first music that captivated him. When he was seven, Krieger accidentally broke his record player, but the radio introduced him to the likes of Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, and the Platters. At the age of 10, he tried the trumpet, but found it was not for him. He began playing the blues on his parents' piano with much more success than the trumpet.
While Krieger was a boarding student at a private school called Menlo School in Menlo Park, California, there was study time at night that allowed him to teach himself to play the guitar. He began by first de-tuning a ukulele to the bottom four strings of a guitar and mimicking a record he had. Later, in the mid-1960s, Asian American scholar Frank Chin taught Krieger how to play the flamenco guitar. During a Christmas break, Krieger and two classmates took a vacation to Puerto Vallarta where he purchased a peg-tuned Ramírez guitar and took lessons for a few months. He bounced around genres, including flamenco, folk, blues, and jazz and played in a jug band—the Back Bay Chamber Pot Terriers—at Menlo.
After high school, Krieger attended the University of California, Santa Barbara. Krieger listed guitarists Wes Montgomery, Albert King, and Larry Carlton among the biggest influences on his style. Krieger's flamenco guitar playing can be found present in the song "Spanish Caravan".
Krieger became a member of the Doors in 1965, joining keyboard player Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore and vocalist Jim Morrison, after Manzarek's brothers left the group. At an early Doors rehearsal Morrison heard Krieger playing bottleneck guitar and initially wanted the technique featured on every song on the first album. Krieger's fingerstyle approach to the electric guitar, broad musical tastes, and songwriting helped establish the Doors as a successful rock band in the 1960s.
Krieger occasionally sang lead vocal with the Doors. He can be heard on the song "Runnin' Blue". He also sang on the last two Doors albums, recorded after Morrison's death, Other Voices and Full Circle.
After Morrison’s death in 1971, Krieger, Manzarek and Densmore carried on as a trio. They released two more albums as the Doors before disbanding in 1973, though they did reconvene a few years later to create music for poetry that Morrison had recorded shortly before his death, released as the 1978 album An American Prayer.
After the Doors disbanded in 1973, Krieger formed the Butts Band with Densmore. He enjoyed some success as a jazz-fusion guitarist, recording a handful of albums in the 1970s and 1980s, including Versions (1982), Robby Krieger (1985), and No Habla (1989). For his first solo release in 1977, Robbie Krieger & Friends, Krieger worked with rock artist Jim Evans to create a painting that became the album package.
In 1982, Krieger made an album with the Los Angeles group Acid Casualties. Their album, Panic Station, was released by Rhino Records and included a new version of the rare 1968 Pink Floyd single "Point Me at the Sky". In the early 90s, Krieger formed a trio called the 'Robby Krieger Organization' featuring Skip Van Winkle (electric organ,organ pedal bass) and Dale Alexander (drums, backing vocals). In 1991, Krieger formed a new band simply known as the Robby Krieger Band, which featured his son Waylon Krieger (guitar), Berry Oakley Jr. (bass, backing vocals), Dale Alexander (keyboards) and Ray Mehlbaum (drums). The band performed shows in North America and Europe between 1991 and 1998. In 2000, Krieger released Cinematix, an entirely instrumental fusion album, with guest appearances from Billy Cobham and Edgar Winter.
Krieger and Manzarek reformed as the "Doors of the 21st Century" in 2002 with vocalist Ian Astbury of the Cult. (Astbury had also performed a solo cover of "Touch Me" and a cover of "Wild Child" with the Cult on the tribute album Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors). Following a dispute with Densmore over the Doors name, the band then became known as "Riders On The Storm", "Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of the Doors", and finally, "Manzarek–Krieger". For a brief period, the reformed band also included Police drummer Stewart Copeland.
Krieger played guitar on a few tracks by Blue Öyster Cult and has worked on a number of tribute projects organized by Billy Sherwood. Krieger has made some guest appearances with the band Particle and appears on the album Transformations Live.
In June 2008, ZYX Studio released his concert with Eric Burdon, called Live at the Ventura Beach California. They also played "Back Door Man" and "Roadhouse Blues".
In April 2009, Krieger and Ray Manzarek appeared as special guests for Daryl Hall's monthly concert webcast Live From Daryl's House. They performed several Doors tunes ("People Are Strange", "The Crystal Ship", "Roadhouse Blues" and "Break On Through"), with Hall providing lead vocals.
Krieger has participated in the "Experience Hendrix" series of concerts, joining a number of high-profile guitar players paying tribute to the musicianship and songwriting of Jimi Hendrix.
In May 2012, Robby Krieger toured with the Roadhouse Rebels, a trio side-project consisting of founding members Particle's (and Rich Robinson's keyboardist) Steve Molitz (hammond organ, keyboards) and Oingo Boingo/Mutaytor's John Avila (bass), only this time with two additional musicians, the Black Crowes's Rich Robinson (guitar/vocals) and Rich Robinson's drummer Joe Magistro. The shows' setlists featured a range of material, including Doors standards, classic soul and rock 'n' roll covers from the '60s and '70s, and material from Robinson's new Through a Crooked Sun album. The group performed on May 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, on May 26, 2012 at the Bella Fiore Music Festival at Harmony Park Music Garden in Clarks Grove, Minnesota, and on May 27, 2012 at the Oriental Theater, Denver, Colorado.
Krieger is featured on the Fuel album Puppet Strings. On December 31, 2013, Krieger supported Southern rock band Gov't Mule at the Beacon Theatre (New York City).
Robby used a variety of guitars during his time with the Doors. 1964 Gibson SG Special
1958 National 'Town & Country' (Model 1104)
1967 Gibson SG Special
1968 Gibson SG Standard
1954 Gibson Les Paul Custom ('Black Beauty')
Black Gibson SG Standard
Butts Band (1974)
Hear and Now (1975)
Robbie Krieger & Friends (1977)
Robby Krieger (1985)
No Habla (1989)
Door Jams (1989)
Look Each Other in the Ears. Hen House Studio Album includes the Doors--Robbie Krieger, John Densmore, and Ray Manzarek. 2014