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The Doobie Brothers
Listen to the Music
The Doobie Brothers are one of, if not the most resilient and inventive bands on the planet. From their early years as the quintessential party band through today they have enthusiastically shared their passion for music and their incredible talent with us.
I recently had an opportunity to see them play at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville and I purposely use the word play as opposed to the term perform because we all had so much fun. The music was incredible and the band drew the audience in on nearly every song. There were many times we could be heard singing louder than the sound system.
As my passion for the Doobie Brothers lives on and their love for playing and recording continues I thought I'd share some of the memories as well as introduce you to some of their new material on this lens. Enjoy listening to the music but you'll have a hard time keeping your foot from tapping and I bet you'll find yourself humming or singing along for the rest of the day. Thank you for stopping by.
The Early Years
Growing up in the '70s the Doobie Brothers were the soundtrack of my teens. We danced many a night away to the "Doobie Brothers", "Toulouse Street", "The Captain and Me" and "What Once were Vices are now Habits" in Eric's basement. (Literally Eric's basement, not a "That '70s Show" reference, though they both had a lot in common.)
The first incarnation of the band came together in 1970 in San Jose, California. Their first lineup featured Tom Johnston on guitars, keyboards, harmonica and vocals with Patrick Simmons also on guitars, banjo, flute and vocals. Dave Shogren played bass, guitar and backing vocals while John Hartman was on the drums, percussion and backing vocals.
The Doobie Brothers gained experience playing all over Northern California and were the rage with biker gangs in the area. The skill they acquired during this time resulted in a number of demo recordings that landed them a record deal with Warner Brothers Records in late 1970.
The Band's 1971 debut album The Doobie Brothers which failed to make the charts featured their first single "Nobody", one of my all time favorites though I didn't hear it until a few years later. They still play this song today and it's been recorded again for their 2010 release "World Gone Crazy".
In 1972 "The Doobies" added Michael Hossack to the band to drum along with John Hartman. They've been a two drummer band ever since which adds tremendously to their unique style of music. Also this year they released their second recording Toulouse Street which brought together the band's matchless blend of rock, R&B, boogie and country, a sound like no other.
Toulouse Street featured the classic hits "Listen to the Music" and "Jesus is Just Alright" which was the song that first introduced me to "The Doobie Brothers". I'm not sure what show I was watching, it might have been "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" but I do remember how excited I was about this band. They played "Jesus is Just Alright" and some other song that just rocked for over ten minutes. "Rockin' Down the Highway" may be my absolute favorite "Doobies" tune and it's also on Toulouse Street.
The group's third album was put out in 1973 and is called The Captain and Me. "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove", two of The Doobie Brothers most famous hits, can be found on this record along with the almost country song "South City Midnight Lady". By this time the band was heard all over the radio throughout the US. Which can be attested to at any of the band's current shows, as the crowd knows the words (or thinks we do) to so many of the group's songs from this period. We must have listened to this record a thousand times and just to mix it up we had to have all of the DBs older stuff.
While working on What Once Were Vices are Now Habits, The Doobie Brothers fourth studio release in 1974 Keith Knudson replaced Michael Hossack on drums. Later that same year while still working on "Vices", Jeff "Skunk" Baxter joined the band after leaving "Steely Dan". Baxter had played the pedal steel guitar on the "Captain" album and had been appearing as a special guest on many of the bands shows.
What Once Were Vices produced the bands first number one song; "Black Water" along with the catchy "Eyes of Silver" and the joyful "Another Park, Another Sunday" which had been chosen to be the primary single from this album in fact "Black Water" was on the backside of its 45. The Vices record was the first LP I can remember impatiently waiting for. Up to this point I had taken music as it came, more often than not discovering bands or songs long after others had. For me this was the height of my Doobie crush.
Near the end of 1974 as the Doobie Brothers were finishing up their 5th and last album of this era. Tom Johnston's health began to suffer from the rigorous schedule the band had maintained. They were set to release Stampede in early 1975 the album had the hit "Take Me in Your Arms" which made it to #11 on the hot 100 chart. But as the band was set to tour Johnston was not going to be able to perform. Jeff Baxter suggested the band consider his former band mate and friend from "Steely Dan", Michael McDonald as a fill in for Tom. And while this closes out one story it certainly is the beginning of another.
Listen to the Music
Doobies on Amazon
The Doobie Brothers music has changed throughout the years and at each stage it's been great.