Back in the 70s and 80s, recording artists had identifiable sounds that made them stand out from other recording artists. No one would ever mistake the Eagles for Earth, Wind and Fire, no one would ever mistake Carole King for Melanie Safka, and no one would ever mistake James Taylor for Jim Croce. And even within those identifiable sounds, it was easy to tell when a band member either left the group or a new band member was added. It was in each band’s distinctive sound.
When the Doobie Brothers first his the airwaves, Watergate was in full swing and the last US ground troops were withdrawing from Vietnam. Movies like “The Godfather” and “A Clockwork Orange” were popular at movie theaters and favorite programs on televisions across the nation included “Sesame Street” for the younger set, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” for the young adult set, and “Here’s Lucy” for the older generation. The HP-35 was the first scientific hand-held calculator introduced to the market, and Atari kicked off the first generation of video games with the release of PONG.
Comprised of John Hartman, Dave Shogren, Tom Johnston, and Pat Simmons and other band members, the Doobie Brothers caught listeners’ attention with their breakthrough song, “Listen To The Music” in 1972, and for a decade they put out album after album. With each new song release, listeners were treated to their unique sound that incorporated rock, country, and R&B coupled with tight harmonies. When Michael McDonald was brought onboard in 1976, he influenced the band’s sound with jazz and blue-eyed soul that melded with influences that were already part of the Doobie Brothers’ distinctive sound.
Then they broke up. Band members toured with other projects. Then another decade later, the Doobie Brothers reunited with many of the old members returning. Since then, Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, and John McFee (who was absent for a year back in 1995) have been main staples of the reunited Doobie Brothers.
Sad to say, they’ve lost some Brothers along the way:
- Bassist and group founder, Dave Shogren (12 October 1950 – 14 December 1999) passed away of unreported causes.
- Percussionist, drummer, vocalist and songwriter, Robert Jay “Bobby” LaKind (3 November 1945 – 24 December 1992) following a lengthy struggle with terminal cancer.
- Keyboardist, saxophonist and vocalist, Cornelius Bumpus (7 May 1945 – 3 February 2004) suffered a fatal heart attack while en route to California for a solo tour.
- Drummer, vocalist and songwriter, Keith Knudsen (18 February 1948 – 8 February 2005) succumbed to pneumonia, and had been previously diagnosed in 1995 with cancer.
- Drummer Michael Joseph Hossack (17 October 1946 – 12 March 2012) developed cancer in 2010 which took his life 2 years later.
But even with the loss of these Brothers, their unique sounds lives on in their songs as people continue to listen to the music.