Women in Music 2019

Rock Hall of Fame Hall Nominees Doobie Brothers Looking Forward to Reunion if They Make the Cut

Andrew Macpherson
The Doobie Brothers

Neither Tom Johnston nor his Doobie Brothers bandmates have "spent oddles of timing thinking about" the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But in the wake of the group's first-ever nomination on Tuesday morning (Oct. 15), there's sincere happiness about being, well, one step closer to induction into the shrine.

"We're all honored to be nominated," co-founder guitarist Johnston tells Billboard. "I'm sure we've all paused to reflect, and I think I speak for all the other guys when I say that it seems rather odd we haven't been selected before. But at the same time we don't take it for granted and we are honored to be nominated, and if we can just carry it all the way to getting in it would be awesome."

Guitarist Patrick Simmons, the lone mainstay in the Doobies' entire career, adds that while he's always viewed the group's enduring appeal as "my prize," he also remains "proud of the band and would love to see it recognized in any capacity that anybody wants to put forth. Something like this comes along and I just go, 'Yeah, we've been wishing it would happen' and our fans have been pushing and writing letters and everything. So now at least we're getting the nomination and, damn, that means a lot to me."   

Long considered one of the Rock Hall's great slights, the Doobies' output since 1971 has included 14 studio albums and hits such as "Listen to the Music," "Long Train Runnin'," "China Grove," "Black Water," "Takin' it to the Streets," "What a Fool Believes" and "Minute By Minute." In addition to Johnston and Simmons, the nominated Doobies Lineup includes drummers Michael Hossack and Keith Knudsen (who died in 2005), guitarists John McFee and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, bassist Tiran Porter and singer-keyboardist Michael McDonald.

Both Johnston and Simmons say they'll welcome some sort of reunion of the Brothers-hood should the Doobies wind up in the Rock Hall's class of 2020. "Absolutely," Johnston says. "I haven't seen most of these guys in awhile. It's a great reason to get together, too, finally getting recognized after all this time. I think most everybody would be pretty jacked up about the whole thing."

The nomination news comes as the Doobies are preparing to return to the road on Nov. 8 for a short run that includes performances of its albums Toulouse Street and The Captain and Me on Nov. 18 at the Ryman Auditorium; Earlier this year the group released an album and DVD from its 2018 show at New York's Beacon Theatre where it performed both sets, in their entirety, for the first time. And with the 50th anniversary of the Doobies' formation looming in 2020, the group will also be releasing a five-song EP during early 2020, produced by John Shanks, and Johnston hopes the set will be a harbinger of more new music, in short order.

"We will continue to write and release songs, possibly one or two at a time," he says. "It's already been discussed with (Shanks), and I think it would be great. Otherwise you have a tendency to fade from people's collective consciousnesses as a happening entity, or at least a valid entity. It always feels better when there's new music to play along with the hits."


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