Tag: The Doobie Brothers

Interview: The Doobie Brothers’ Tom Johnston discusses band’s upcoming residency at The Beacon Theatre in NYC

Fresh off a monster summer tour with fellow classic rock legend, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers recently announced their first ever live, full-album performances, which will take place over two consecutive nights at New York’s Beacon Theatre. The band will perform Toulouse Street on Thursday, Nov. 15, and The Captain and Me on Friday, Nov. 16. Both will be performed in album sequence and in their entirety.

In addition to performing deep cuts that have never been performed live, both shows will also feature an additional selection of material from the band’s extensive arsenal of hits.

Toulouse Street (released in 1972) launched The Doobie Brothers to stardom and featured the hits “Listen to The Music,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” and “Jesus is Just Alright.” The Captain and Me (released in 1973) included hits like “Long Train Runnin’” and “China Grove,” as well as fan favorites “South City Midnight Lady” and “Without You.”

The Doobie Brothers are led by Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons and John McFee

AXS recently spoke with Tom Johnston about The Doobie Brothers upcoming residency, the albums, career highlights and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: What inspired this Doobie Brothers two-night residency at The Beacon?

Tom Johnston: I’ve been requesting that we play at The Beacon for a few years now. For me, it’s one of those places that sits in the hall of rock fame of places to play. All kinds of great bands have played there. The Allman Brothers owned it there for a while, and Steely Dan has also done many shows there. The idea to do the albums came from Mitch Rose at CAA. We were in a conference call and I brought up the subject of playing The Beacon. Mitch thought it was a great idea and suggested we do an album night, and since we were going to do two nights in a row, he suggested we do Toulouse Street and The Captain and Me.

AXS: It’s early on, but what’s it been like revisiting those albums and preparing for this event?

TJ: We’ve been working on it the whole time we’ve been out on tour with Steely Dan. We’d start sound check by working out tunes we don’t play in the set, and in a lot of cases, had never played before. It was really eye-opening. It was a long time ago and some of the songs were fairly complex. The other thing that’s interesting about doing an album show is that you do it in album sequence, which is nothing like you would do live. It’s a challenge but we’re looking forward to it.

AXS: Let’s talk a little about Toulouse Street, which was the first album where the band experimented with recording with two drummers. Was that always the plan?

TJ: We had already been performing live with [drummer] Mike Hossack before we ever did that album. We did our first tour with John Hartman, and at some point, after that, we tried it with two drummers. We decided we liked it. Mike was such a good drummer and it added a whole other feeling to playing live. So, when we got into the studio, that transferred over to all the songs we were cutting. It was pretty easy to do. It was also the first album we did with Ted Templeman [producer].

AXS: How did you develop your unique picking style? 

TJ: I come from a blues, R&B and rock background and there was a period of time, from 1969-1972, where I spent a lot of time playing acoustic guitar. I played all day every day. I’d spend hours playing guitar; just listening to various artists and then trying to emulate a finger-picking feel. That’s how I developed that rhythm style you hear in songs like “Listen To The Music” and “Long Train Runnin.”

Read the rest of my
Interview with Tom Johnston by Clicking Here!

Interview: The Doobie Brothers’ Patrick Simmons Discusses 40th Anniversary of the band’s ‘What’s Happening!!” Appearance & New Tour With Steely Dan

The Doobie Brothers (photo by Andrew Macpherson)

If you ask The Doobie Brothers’ Patrick Simmons the one thing the band will most be remembered for, he won’t hesitate to tell you that it will probably be the time the band was featured on the black situation comedy, “What’s Happening!!” on January 28th, 1978.

Forty years ago, Simmons, along with the rest of his bandmates at the time, appeared as themselves in a two-part episode called, “Doobie or Not Doobie,” where they returned triumphantly to their former high school only to discover that one of the students, Rerun (played by Fred Berry), had been conned by a two-bit thug into tape recording the band’s concert.

It was an unusual situation and a bit of a risk for the band; whose hits include “Black Water,” & “Takin’ it to The Streets”, to appear on a television series. But in the end, it exposed The Doobies music to an entirely new demographic, and has since become one of televisions most beloved episodes.

AXS recently spoke with Simmons about the 40th anniversary of The Doobie Brothers appearance on “What’s Happening!!”,  their new tour with Steely Dan and much more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did the band’s appearance on “What’s Happening!!” come about?

PS: We had done the albums Takin’ It to the Streets and Livin’ on the Fault Line, and had just hired a new publicist named David Gest (who would later leave PR and go on to marry Liza Minelli). A few months into working with us, David came in and told us there was an opportunity to do this situation comedy.

I was already familiar with “What’s Happening!!”, because I’d watched the show a few times. I thought it was hilarious and really liked the character of Rerun (Fred Berry). I had actually met Fred one summer at a show we’d done where he was dancing with The Lockers. Because it was a black situation comedy, I thought it would be an adventurous thing for us to do because our music had always been laced with R&B and soul. Not only would our fans tune in, but it would also expose us to a new audience of people who watched the show regularly, and would begin to listen to our music. I had no idea how we would fit into the show but thought it was something fun and different to do. David had great ideas, and that was certainly one of them.

AXS: The storyline dealt with the subject of bootlegging concerts. Was that something the band was concerned about at the time?

PS: For sure. We had been ripped off more than once, so we were certainly aware of it. I remember at the time, there was a lot of stealing of intellectual property going on. People would record shows and then sell them to some label in some other country. Then the label would produce it and ship it back to America. It was a difficult process trying to get in and record a show without being seen, but there was a certain amount of money to be made. It’s silly looking back on it now because everyone is recording shows on their phones and giving it away on YouTube, but it was a different world in those days.

Read there rest of my
Interview with Pat Simmons by Clicking Here!

Doobie Brothers Pat Simmons and Tom Johnston Talk Gear and Classic Tracks

Photo by: Kelly Swift
Photo by: Kelly Swift

Over the course of their 40-plus-year history, the Doobie Brothers have been delivering their distinct brand of roots-based, harmony-laden, guitar-driven rock to eager fans old and new.

As a whole, the band has amassed more than 48 million in album sales to go along with a pair of Number 1 songs and four Grammys. Classic rock guitar aficionados have long known—and no doubt played—many of the riffs from the band’s arsenal of hits, including “China Grove,” “Black Water,” “Long Train Runnin’” and “Listen to the Music.”

The Doobies took a five-year hiatus in the early Eighties, only to return with a reunion album, Cycles, in 1989. They’ve been touring and making music ever since.

The Doobie Brothers’ touring lineup—which is on the road with Journey this summer—includes Pat Simmons (guitar/vocals), Tom Johnston (guitar/vocals), John McFee (guitars/fiddle/vocals), Bill Payne (keyboards), Marc Russo (saxophone), Ed Toth (drums), John Cowan (bass/vocals) and Tony Pia (drums). I recently caught up with Simmons and Johnston to talk about the music, guitars and more.

This is actually the first time the Doobie Brothers have toured with Journey. How has it been going?

Simmons: Really good. When you get out on the road, you never know what it’s going to be like, but they’re all such great guys. It’s been just like family.

Johnston: There have been full houses and the crowds have been very receptive. It’s been a great tour all around.

Bill Payne of Little Feat contributed keyboards on nearly every Doobie Brothers album and is now touring with the band. How did your relationship with him begin?

Simmons: Our producer at Warner Brothers, Ted Templeman, had done a Little Feat album and was working on ours [Toulouse Street]. I remember we were in cutting songs and Ted wanted to try some keyboards on a few tracks. He said he had this great keyboard player and when he brought in Bill, we all just flipped. He was so amazing. Bill came out occasionally to play in the early days and I tried several times over the years to get him to join the band, but he was always busy with Little Feat. Finally last year, he was substituting for our old keyboard player who had left for another gig. As usual, I said, “God I wish you could stick around”—and this time he said, “Well, as a matter of fact…” [laughs]. That was it!

What makes the music of the Doobies so timeless and special?

Johnston: It really depends on what your age range is. At some point in your life, the tunes may have meant something to you. In other cases, they’re songs you can sing along with and make you feel good. We’ve been lucky to have written tunes that have lasted and are still getting played today.

Simmons: For sure, it’s the songs. More than anything else in our culture, music is one of those things that brings back recall from your past. You don’t get to relive every minute but when you hear a song, you think about where you were or what you were doing when you first heard it. It’s a continual process and really keeps artists alive in people’s memories. It’s an all around association that’s not just about the music or the artist. It’s about people lives and how they all intermingle.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Pat Simmons & Tom Johnston Here!