Long Train Runnin’: Our Story of the Doobie Brothers

St. Martin’s. May 2022. 368p. ISBN 9781250270054. $29.99. MUSIC
Guitarists Johnston and Pat Simmons, the founding members of the pop rock group the Doobie Brothers, work with music journalist Chris Epting to chronicle the band’s musical journey. In this book, which also features remarks from other band members and insiders, Johnston and Simmons reflect upon their childhoods, the influence of musically diverse rockers Moby Grape, and forming the Doobie Brothers in San José. The duo fondly recall the band’s first hit, “Listen to the Music” (1972), and describe their constant touring and continued chart successes with “Long Train Runnin’” (1973) and the number-one hit “Black Water” (1974). They credit their triumphs to their eclectic style, characterized by the use of two lead vocals, Simmons’s acoustic country-blues picking, and Johnston’s electric R&B-styled chording and innovative bass lines. The book explains the Doobie Brothers’ progression to a more mellow pop sound in 1975, when vocalist and keyboard player Michael McDonald replaced Johnston, who suffered a life-threatening ulcer. The guitarists plow through subsequent albums, including the chart-topping, multi-platinum Minute by Minute (1978). They discuss the group’s disbandment in 1982, the reunion five years later, and subsequent albums and tours up to the present.
VERDICT Though they’re sometimes repetitive, Johnston and Simmons ably and vividly recount the Doobie Brothers’ hard-working, highly successful 50-year career. Their account will appeal to fans of ’70s rock.
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