The Doobie Brothers' Patrick Simmons

Patrick Simmons is a principal creative force in the veteran rock-boogie

band the Doobie Brothers, and is the only current member who has been

with the group throughout its history, as evidenced by his presence on

the Doobies' box set, 1971–1999 Long Train Runnin', released

in September.

Simmons was born Oct. 19, 1948, to schoolteacher parents in Aberdeen,

Wash. He learned to love music from a babysitter who was also a piano

teacher.

After moving with his family to San Jose, Calif., Simmons began playing

the guitar. He joined his first rock band at 13. Two years later, he began

gigging — both as a solo act and with various bands — on the

San Francisco Bay Area club circuit.

While studying psychology at San Jose State University and playing in a

band called Scratch, Simmons met future Doobie Brothers Tom Johnston

(guitar) and John Hartman (drums) at a gig. They were playing in a rock

group with former Moby Grape guitarist Skip Spence.

Simmons soon accepted an invitation to form a band with Johnston, Hartman

and bassist Dave Shogren. They chose the name Doobie Brothers, after the

popular California slang for a marijuana cigarette. The Doobie Brothers

earned a loyal local following that included the Hell's Angels.

Warner Bros. A&R man Ted Templeman got the band a contract and became

the group's producer. The Doobie Brothers' eponymous 1971 debut was not

a hit, but the double-platinum Toulouse Street (1972) — with

the addition of second drummer Michael Hossack and with Tiran Porter

replacing Shogren — earned them radio play with such cuts as "Listen

to the Music."

The Captain and Me (1973) produced two hits that have since become

the band's signature tunes: "Long Train Runnin' " (RealAudio

excerpt) and "China Grove." Steely Dan session player Jeff "Skunk"

Baxter joined the band for the LP. What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits

(1974) yielded the Simmons-written #1 smash "Black Water."

Michael McDonald, who also had played with Steely Dan, joined the Doobie

Brothers the following year. Through his songwriting and keyboard playing,

he transformed the band from a rock/country outfit to a funky pop/jazz

ensemble. The change yielded such hits as the title cut to Takin' It

to the Streets (1976).

Minute by Minute (1978) was a multiplatinum smash, thanks to such

hits as the title track and "What a Fool Believes." But the group never

matched that success again.

The Doobie Brothers disbanded in 1982. Simmons issued his solo debut,

Arcade, the following year. Four years later, the band reunited

for a tour.

Simmons, Johnston, Hartman, Porter and Hossack signed a contract as the

Doobie Brothers with Capitol Records in 1989. They had a gold LP with

Cycles, which was a return to their early country/rock/blues sound.

For much of this decade, the Doobie Brothers toured. McDonald rejoined

briefly in 1995, the year Simmons issued his solo Take Me to the

Highway in Japan.

In 1996 the Doobies released Rockin' Down the Highway: The Wildlife

Concert, with proceeds going to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Their 1976 Best of the Doobie Brothers still enjoys healthy sales.

And earlier this year came Best of the Doobie Brothers Live,

featuring favorites such as Simmons' "Jesus Is Just Alright."

Other birthdays Tuesday: Jeannie C. Riley, 54; Wilbert Hart (Delfonics),

52; Karl Wallinger (World Party), 42; Dan Woodgate (Madness), 39; Todd

Park Mohr (Big Head Todd & the Monsters), 34; Pras Michel (Fugees), 27;

and George McCrae, 1944–1986.