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, 19711999 Long Train Runnin', released
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
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, 19441986.