WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - It was the early '70s when Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons produced their first album under the name "The Doobie Brothers". They went on to release 12 more with lucky number 13 coming out with a country twist.
Catching up with Johnston and Simmons before their SunFest concert, they say, the album will feature Brad Paisley, Chris Young, The Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith and Sara Evans. "The idea behind it is to take the songs and change them around a little bit," said Johnston. "Number one, you have to sing it different, and number two you have a whole bunch of guys playing differently than when we played it originally. In some songs they really took them and changed them around, and I thought that was really awesome."
After taking a five year break, they got the band back together and have been going strong ever since. "This reunion has been going on since 1980, and on the road since '89 with the first album of this batch which was 'Cycle'".
Now, if things would not have gone they way they did for The Doobie Brothers, Johnston and Simmons had backups. "I'd probably have been doing what I was studying to be which was a graphic designer."
A legitimate answer from Johnston; however, Simmons, was not studying the books like his fellow band mate. "I'd still be in jail."
But they are The Doobie Brothers after all. They have Keith Rosen to thank for their name. "He lived on 12th Street which is the house where the band practiced all the time, and it was kind of a music center for San Jose at the time," recalled Johnston. "And we didn't have a name. We were playing gigs, and we needed one. So he said, 'Why don't you call yourself The Doobie Brothers? It seems fitting -- maybe appropriate.'"
"He sort of said that. He said you smoke so much," chimed in Simmons.
"Well, I don't want to give out all the details," Johnston laughed.
Of course, things have changed over their 40 year career. "In the '70s, we were flying in an airplane. Now, we're on a bus. That's probably the biggest change in touring that I can think of. Other than that, when you get on the stage, it's the same thing."
"When you go from city to city, when you play for audiences, we haven't really changed our approach too much," said Simmons. "We are what we've always been."
The Doobie Brothers kick off their Heaven on Earth Tour this June and will be coming to Fort Lauderdale with Alice and Paul Rodgers in Chains in February.