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BOOK REVIEW: Set The Night On Fire by Robby Krieger with Jeff Alulis

| 3 December 2021 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Set The Night On Fire by Robby Krieger with Jeff Alulis

Hachette Australia
October 2021
Hardcover, $32.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Autobiography/ Rock and Roll


Robby Krieger writes about seeking enlightenment in this illuminating autobiography, penned with the help of Jeff Alulis. Judging by Krieger’s calm tone throughout, and the lack of melodrama and interpersonal chaos referenced here, he seems to have found it.

The Doors were certainly a band full of melodrama and interpersonal chaos – without dysfunction, it is highly unlikely they would have become such a pivotal touchstone band for many. Perhaps it is that very dysfunction which makes them a rite of passage band for teenagers (and those of us who miss our teenaged years) around the world, all these many decades later.

The guitarist, a young pup when he joined with Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore to become The Doors, sounds like he views the crazy, hazy handful of years which have come to define his professional life with the bemused view of someone who at times wonders what all the fuss was about, and at other times wonders how it could even have happened.

Certainly, in today’s glitzy pop world, a band like The Doors – fronted by drug vacuum, death wish-wielding Morrison – wouldn’t make it to the audition round of Idol or The Voice. With madness all around, Morrison leaping naked from hotel windows, arrests for alleged exposure which may or may not have happened, groupies and acid and riots and chaos, chaos, chaos, The Doors carved their name into the school desk of rock and roll forever as much because of their misadventure, as for their timeless music and poetic, sometimes ethereal lyrics.

Some of those lyrics and hit songs were written by Krieger himself, a fact sometimes forgotten by casual followers, so it’s great that he used this book to calmly explain these and more home truths. Oliver Stone’s movie The Doors gets slated – also in a calm way, with Krieger simply pointing out multiple inaccuracies in the Hollywood fiction; his bandmate’s books and legal action over the years are firmly criticised, but throughout Set The Night On Fire the author’s tone is of parental correction, not bitchy, ego-driven vitriol.

Spiritual enlightenment, once again…. and it’s a lovely trait to have attained, given the long, heartbreaking tales he tells of both extended drug addiction, and his battle with cancer.

Krieger’s recollections are presented without a chronological story arc, though the chapter order is far from random. With Alulis’ help he details the story of The Doors and the relationships within the band, sprinkling in pertinent information about his own upbringing, and personal and professional live after the band folded. It’s always interesting and informative, always a pleasure to read.

Set The Night On Fire sees Krieger thankful for all he has experienced – the good and the bad – and shows that he has, indeed, learnt from it all and become, from the sounds of it, a better person because of it all.

Category: Book Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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