"The Doctor" - The Doobie Brothers
from the album Cycles (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #9 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 9
Today's song of the day comes from the rock/soul band the Doobie Brothers, who came together in the early 70s in Northern California with guitarists Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons joining drummer John Hartman. They released their debut album in 1971, but it didn't get much notice at first; but after adding funky bass player Tiran Porter, their second release Toulouse Street brought them to pop radio, where the easy-going lead single "Listen To The Music" reached #11 (and #3 in Canada) in 1972. The following year, with their The Captain and Me set, they conquered the top ten with one of the best rhythm guitar hooks in rock history on "Long Train Runnin'" (#8). Recruiting a third guitarist with ex-Steely Dan guy Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, the Brothers landed their first #1 pop hit in 1975 with the southern rock classic "Black Water". That song also was his first to reach the top-40 in the UK. Their popularity continued to grow, however massive health problems ended up temporarily sidelining Johnston; Baxter helped bring in another Steely Dan vet, singer/pianist Michael McDonald, who would end up in the late 70s being just as vital part of the group than the rest. Their first single with McDonald singing lead, "Takin' It To The Streets", landed at #13 on the US pop chart in 1976. His influence on the band was immense; drifting from the twangy southern-rock sounds of Simmons' "Black Water", their sound immediately brought the keys and bass to center stage. Although Johnston returned to the Doobies for a brief time, he had again departed after the Livin' On The Fault Line album for a solo career, scoring a top-40 pop hit with "Savannah Nights". But with him gone the band climbed even higher, with their biggest album to date, 1978's Minute By Minute. Reaching #1 on the sales charts, the record preoduced the chart-topping pop hit "What A Fool Believes". However, the unending pressure to continue recording as well as musical differences caused a chunk of the band to defect, including Hartman and Baxter. After another album, One Step Closer, with hired hands to fill in the departed members, and another top-5 pop hit with "Real Love", even Simmons jumped ship, and with McDonald itching for a solo career, the band called it quits after a successful "farewell reunion" tour including Simmons, Johnston, Porter and Hartman.
After a break where McDonald found success including a top-5 pop hit out of the box with "I Keep Forgettin'", and to a lesser extent Simmons with a top-30 offering in "So Wrong", a dozen former members came together originally for a charity concert, then eventually for a massive "reunion tour" in 1987. With that momentum, the earlier lineup including Simmons, Johnston, Hartman, Porter, and percussionist Michael Hossack went into the studio to record a new album, Cycles. The first single, "The Doctor", was written by Johnston with producers Charlie Midnight and Eddie Schwartz, and brought them back to their rhythm guitar-led roots...
"The Doctor" returned the Brothers to the pop top ten in America in July of 1989. The single also landed them their first #1 hit on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart for three weeks. It also crossed over to the Adult Contemporary radio list at #31. Internationally, the record went to #14 in Canada, #32 in Australia, #37 in the Netherlands, and was a minor hit in England at #73.
The song would be their last to reach the top-40 in the U.S. pop chart. They came close with the follow-up single "Need A Little Taste Of Love", which stalled at #44, though it climbed to #3 on the rock radio tally. Hoping to continue the momentum, the band put out Brotherhood in 1991, and though lead track "Dangerous" went to #2 on the rock chart, and after that an follow-up "Rollin' On" (#12 Mainstream Rock) failed to reach the pop charts, they slipped away again from recording for ten years, though they continued to tour (at one point including McDonald in 1995). When they re-emerged in 2001 for Sibling Rivalry, single "Ordinary Man" solely slipped onto the adult contemporary list at #29, and the album didn't even make the charts at all. After another ten year lull, the Doobies returned to the top-40 on the albums chart with World Gone Crazy in 2010. Most recently, the band did a remake album of their material with country artists, Southbound, that hit #17 on the albums list.
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Here's the band performing live in 1996...
Up tomorrow: Pop royalty warns not to hold it in.