The Doobie Brothers

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The Doobie Brothers "Minute by Minute" album cover

The Doobie Brothers are an American rock band, best known for hit singles like "Black Water". They were popular throughout the 1970s.


The original incarnation

The founding members were lead vocalist Tom Johnston and drummer John Hartman, both former members of a group called Pud. In 1970, after leaving that band, they joined up with bass player Dave Shogren and guitarist Patrick Simmons, and thus The Doobie Brothers was formed. The band's name was taken from a slang term for the marijuana joint.

The group's 1971 self-titled debut album failed to chart.

But it was after their next album (on which bass player Dave Shogren was replaced by Tiran Porter), Toulouse Street (which spawned the hit singles "Listen To The Music" and "Jesus Is Just Alright"), that brought the band their breakthrough success. Under the leadership of Johnston and Simmons, the Doobies' trademark sound (a cross between heavy metal and Southern rock) helped lead the band to the Top Ten charts with such other hits as "Long Train Runnin'" & "China Grove" (from their 1973 album The Captain And Me), and "Black Water" (from 1974's What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits). These early singles continued to be hits for the next few years and eventually earned continued airplay among today's Classic Rock radio stations. The following year (1975), Steely Dan member Jeff Baxter (nicknamed "Skunk") joined the band as a guitarist.

Their live shows had given them an energetic fanbase, primarily among the Hells Angels of Southern California.

The Michael McDonald years

But by 1976, lead singer Johnston grew tired of touring, and fell ill as a result. So he left the Doobies (eventually he forged his own short-lived solo career), and shortly after a new lead singer named Michael McDonald (another member of Steely Dan) was recruited to replace Johnston. Their sound also changed, from a hard-edged guitar-filled sound to that of mellow rock (filled with keyboards and horns). Their first album under McDonald was Takin' It To The Streets (which featured the singles "It Keeps You Runnin'" and the title cut). Their new sound was further forged with their next album, Livin' On The Fault Line, which featured "Little Darlin' (I Need You)", "Echoes Of Love", and "You Belong To Me" (later a hit for Carly Simon).

Their career peaked with the success of 1978's Minute by Minute which spent five weeks at the top of the charts and brought the group their greatest success. Their hit "What a Fool Believes" won them a Grammy Award. The album also featured the first (and to date, the only) female lead vocal, from Nicolette Larson (who herself scored a hit with Neil Young's "Lotta Love").

By the beginning of the 1980s, former Moby Grape saxophonist Cornelius Bumpus joined the band as an occasional lead singer for the album One Step Closer. The LP, which featured the Top Ten hit "Real Love" (not to be confused with the John Lennon composition that would later be a hit for The Beatles), was a success, but did not match the blockbuster figures of Minute by Minute. By 1982, the Doobie Brothers announced their imminent break-up by embarking on a "farewell tour". The final show on that tour reunited former lead singer Tom Johnston with his former bandmates.

The reunion years and beyond

They reunited with their original line-up (obviously minus lead singer Michael McDonald), released a new album (Cycles), and a new Top Ten single ("The Doctor"), and toured in 1987 to promote their new music, but the band was unable to continue their momentum.

New albums (many via independent labels) continued through the 1990s. Also, Michael McDonald rejoined the band briefly in 1995. But by the end of the decade the Doobies were engaged in a legal battle of their own. Saxophonist/vocalist Cornelius Bumpus was sued by his former bandmates because Bumpus and other musicians were using the band's name. Eventually, Bumpus lost the case.

Four members of the Doobies have since passed away (percussionist Bobby LaKind in 1992, original bassist Dave Shogren in 1999, Cornelius Bumpus in 2004, and drummer Keith Knudsen in 2005). Meanwhile, Michael McDonald has forged ahead with his own solo career.

The original version of the band has continued to tour and are a popular concert draw, though their recordings' success has been limited.

Selected discography

See also

External links


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