The Doobie Brothers were founded by guitarist/vocalist Patrick Simmons and singer/guitarist Tom Johnston in early 1970. The group scored several popular albums in the early-middle part of the decade, as their light but groovy brand of vocal-oriented rock was popular with songs such as “Long Train Running”, “China Grove”, and “Black Water” (a number one hit in 1974). However, Johnston had health problems and during the latter part of the decade new band members were added to the group and added new creative elements. Jeff “Skunk” Baxter was brought in from Steely Dan and brought avant garde and jazz elements, while keyboardist Michael McDonald added blue-eyed-soul sounds, and distinctive vocals.

The group’s 1978 album Minute by Minute was a comeback of sorts, and contained the number one hit “What a Fool Believes.” Though it is often cited as one of the few non-Disco songs to hit number one in 1979, I recall that many rock fans of the day derided it for it’s seemingly disco elements. True fans, however, were vigilant (“That’s not Disco… that’s Doobie” was an actual quote from that period). The song was cowritten by McDonald along with Kenny Loggins, who had recorded the song on his own solo album the year previous. That version wasn’t a hit, but the Doobie Brothers rode the wave of success as the song was a massive worldwide hit.

A follow-up album did okay, but tensions in the band were high. Simmons left the group in 1982, and McDonald decided to disband and focus on a solo career. The group reformed for a tour in 1987, featuring both McDonald and Johnston. An album in 1989 featuring Johnston was popular and included the top 10 hit “The Doctor.” The group has continued to record and tour with various lineups, Simmons being the only constant.

“What a Fool Believes”

In 1980, Robbie Dupree’s song “Steal Away” used a very familiar keyboard riff…