Carole Bumpus Biography & Facts
The Doobie Brothers are an American rock band from San Jose, California. Active for five decades, with their greatest success in the 1970s, the group's current lineup consists of founding members Tom Johnston (guitars, vocals) and Patrick Simmons (guitars, vocals), veteran member Michael McDonald (keyboards, vocals), longtime member John McFee (guitars, pedal steel, violin, backing vocals), and touring musicians including John Cowan (bass, vocals), Bill Payne (keyboards), Marc Russo (saxophones), Ed Toth (drums), and Marc Quiñones (percussion).
The band's history can be roughly divided into three eras. From 1970 to 1975 it featured lead vocalist Johnston and a mainstream rock and roll sound with elements of folk, country and R&B. Johnston left the group in 1977 due to health reasons, and was replaced by Michael McDonald, whose interest in soul music changed the band's sound until it broke up in 1982 with Simmons being the only constant member having appeared on all of their albums. In 1987, the Doobie Brothers reformed with Johnston back in the fold; McDonald, who had previously made several guest appearances since their reformation, returned to the band full-time in 2019 for their upcoming 50th anniversary tour. Every incarnation of the group has emphasized vocal harmonies. The Doobie Brothers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on November 7, 2020. The group has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. Founding members John Hartman and Dave Shogren, Tiran Porter, Michael Hossack, Keith Knudsen and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter are former members of the band.
Drummer John Hartman arrived in California determined to meet Skip Spence of Moby Grape and join an aborted Grape reunion. Spence introduced Hartman to singer, guitarist, and songwriter Tom Johnston and the two proceeded to form the nucleus of what would become the Doobie Brothers. Johnston and Hartman called their fledgling group "Pud" and experimented with lineups (occasionally including Spence) and styles as they performed in and around San Jose. They were mostly a power trio (along with bassist Greg Murphy) but briefly worked with a horn section.
In 1970, they teamed up with singer, guitarist, and songwriter Patrick Simmons and bassist Dave Shogren. Simmons had belonged to several area groups (among them "Scratch", an acoustic trio with future Doobies bassist Tiran Porter) and also performed as a solo artist. He was already an accomplished fingerstyle player whose approach to the instrument complemented Johnston's rhythmic R&B strumming.
While still playing locally around San Jose, the group adopted the name "Doobie Brothers". Musician Keith "Dyno" Rosen, who lived with or next-door to the band, came up with the name after the band had difficulty coming up with one on their own. According to Tom Johnston, Rosen said, "Why don't you call yourself the Doobie Brothers because you're always smoking pot?" Hartman has said he wasn't involved with choosing the name, and didn't know that "doobie" meant a marijuana joint until Rosen told him. Everyone in the band agreed that "Doobie Brothers" was a "dumb" or "stupid" name. Simmons has said the band intended to use the name only for a few early performances until they came up with something better, but they never did.The Doobie Brothers improved their playing by performing live all over Northern California in 1970. They attracted a particularly strong following among local chapters of the Hells Angels and got a recurring gig at one of the bikers' favorite venues, the Chateau Liberté in the Santa Cruz mountains, playing there through the summer of 1970 (although some of these concerts did not include all band members and were of an impromptu nature). A set of demos, which showcased fuzz-toned dual lead electric guitars, three-part harmonies and Hartman's drumming, caught the ear of Warner Brothers' staff A & R representative Ted Templeman, and eventually earned the group a contract at Warner Bros. Records before the year was out.
The band's image originally reflected that of their biggest fans—leather jackets and motorcycles. Released in April 1971, their self-titled debut album departed significantly from that image and their live sound of the period. Produced at Pacific Recorders in San Mateo, the album, which failed to chart, emphasized acoustic guitars and reflected country influences. The leadoff song "Nobody", the band's first single, has surfaced in their live set several times over the ensuing decades. Most recently, this song was re-recorded and added to their 2010 album World Gone Crazy.
In the late spring/summer of 1971, their record label sent the Doobies out on their first national tour in tandem with the group Mother Earth, the "Mother Brothers Tour". Also in 1971, the group toyed with the idea of adding a second drummer, supplementing Hartman's drumming on some of their shows with that of United States Navy veteran Michael Hossack while still touring behind their first album.
Moving to Warner Brothers' newly acquired Amigo Studios in North Hollywood starting in late October 1971, the band recorded several songs for their next album with Shogren on bass, guitar, and background vocals, but Shogren left after disagreements with the group's producer, Ted Templeman. Shogren was replaced in December 1971 with singer, songwriter and bass guitarist Tiran Porter, while Hossack was added to the lineup at the same time as a regular. Porter and Hossack were both stalwarts of the Northern California music scene, Porter having previously played in Scratch with Simmons. Porter brought a funkier bass style and added his husky baritone to the voices of Johnston and Simmons, resulting in a rich three-part blend.
The band's second album, Toulouse Street (which contained the hits "Listen to the Music" and "Jesus Is Just Alright"), brought their breakthrough success after its release in July 1972. In collaboration with manager Bruce Cohn, producer Ted Templeman and engineer Donn Landee, the band put forward a more polished and eclectic set of songs. Pianist Bill Payne of Little Feat contributed keyboards for the first time, beginning a decades-long collaboration that included many recording sessions and even a two-week stint touring with the band in early 1974.A string of hits followed, including Johnston's "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove", from the 1973 album The Captain and Me. Other noteworthy songs on the album were Simmons' country-ish ode "South City Midnight Lady" and the explosive, hard rocking raveup "Without You", for which the entire band received songwriting credit. Onstage, the latter song sometimes stretched into a 15-minute jam with additional lyrics completely ad-libbed by Johnston. A 1973 appearance on the debut episode of the television music variety show Don Kirshner's Rock Concert featured one such performance of the tune.
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