Doobie Brothers: Listening To The Music Gets Even Better With Time

September 26, 2010

Note: If you are reading this on or before Monday, September 27th, 2010,  Cisco TelePresence will be presenting The Doobie Brothers live as part of the release of their new CD on Monday at 3:30PM (Pacific Time).   Cisco will be using their TelePresence technology enabling you to interact over the web with The Doobie Brothers as they perform selections from their new release, “World Gone Crazy.” To watch the live event via the web, go to:

On Tuesday (9/28), The Doobie Brothers will release “World Gone Crazy” which is their first studio album in 10 years. On the surface, one might think,  “Ho-Hum, another aging band milking it… next!”  But a lot of people in the entertainment world are standing up and taking notice:

  • Industry  publications are covering this as a major event.
  • Billboard magazine is featuring them on the cover of their September 25th issue.
  • Last week, they were featured in a live broadcast on
  • The “buzz” in the industry is that this CD is one of the major releases of the year.

L to R: John McFee, Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons, Mike Hossack (

One might ask,“Why the big deal?”  I mean, the Doobies were a successful rock group “back in the day” (the ‘70s and early 80s) that had a few big hits and that’s about it, right? Guess again.

That’s what those who didn’t take the time to dig into their albums might have thought. If they did a bit of research, however, they’d have found the genesis of the group consisted of fine musicians and writers whose talent surpassed many of their contemporaries. On the other hand, like so many other groups in that era, you didn’t have to look far to see talent that was also squandered from the excesses that were the trappings of the rock and roll lifestyle.  As drummer Keith Knudsen himself told me when I interviewed him in 2003,  it really WAS about Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll… in that order.  It’s not surprising that they broke up in 1982. What’s amazing is that they didn’t break up sooner.

That could very well have been the end of the Doobie’s story. But then, post rock fame, a funny thing happened: They got their heads on straight, raised families and simply matured as people.  In 1986, they reunited for what was to be a fundraiser for a fledgling organization called The Vietnam Veterans Aid Foundation (now expanded and known as the National Veterans Foundation.

It was Knudsen (who, sadly, died in 2005) that contacted nearly every musician who had been a member of the Doobies during their run from 1970-1982 to see who would be interested in getting together for this 1-time reunion. To his surprise (and joy), every member who had spent time as a member of the band wanted to be part of the concert.

They booked the Hollywood Bowl and the tickets to the reunion show sold out faster than any other concert before, including the Beatles final performance there. There were about 15 musicians on stage during the show, all former members of the band at one time or another.

The concert was so well received that  core members Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons, and Mike Hossack decided to get back together and, along with John McFee have been together ever since. Knudsen was committed to another band at the time, but would rejoin the group several years later. He was credited for the reunion, and with unanimous support from the band, continued to support the National Veteran’s Foundation over the years, donating well over a million dollars to the non-profit organization.

Upon Knudsen’s death in 2005, the group’s manager, Bruce Cohn (who owns a winery in Northern California) announced that all profits for the first five years sales of his line of award winning wine called “Doobie Red” would go to the foundation in memory of Keith.

Over the years, the Doobies have sold well over 30 million CDs and continue to sell their catalog to new, young fans who have only recently discovered the band. For the new release, the Doobies have returned to their original producer Ted Templeman who produced their earliest work and hits.  In fact, the first single from “World Gone Crazy”called “Nobody” (which is already in rotation on many stations) is an updated version of a song from their first album.

With their dedication towards top instrumental and vocal performance, they truly do sound better than they did 30 years ago. The following video is the first single from the CD to be released Tuesday showing the Doobie Brothers in the studio, intermingled with film clips of their 40 year career.

If you miss the live release on the Internet, but would like evidence of their talent live, there are numerous concert videos on youtube, but one of the finest samples you’ll see is of this rendition of the classic hit, “Taking It To The Street” with an intro that takes the audience by surprise. The below video is from the DVD “Live At Wolftrap” and features Bass Player Skylark who is currently recovering from a stroke. All of us at Grand Rants wish him a quick and complete recovery. The video also features the late Keith Knudsen on drums. His spirit, talent and activism is sorely missed. The DVD is available through

In the end, most rock groups make their money, do their drugs, and eventually crash and burn out.  Once in a while, however, a group comes along that somehow “gets it” and transforms themselves from “merely a rock band” to full-fledged entertainers who respect their audience and themselves enough to dedicate themselves to their craft. After 40 years, and within their own realm, the Doobie Brothers have, in my opinion, established themselves firmly in the latter category.

To learn how to participate in the live launch of the CD and to read more on their 40 year career (as well as check on tour dates), follow this link to their web site, and join the millions who still love to Listen To The Music of The Doobie Brothers as they head into their 5th decade.

Gerry Ashley