We’d be fools to believe that original Doobie Brothers vocalist and guitarist Tom Johnston wasn’t a little—just a tad, mind you—envious of Michael McDonald.
After all, it was Michael who propelled the band to superstar status in 1979, by composing and arranging What a Fool Believes, which snagged them their first-ever Grammy Award. Three Grammys, in fact—for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Vocal Arrangement.
Co-written with Kenny Loggins, the tune, which hit No.1 on the pop charts, featured backup vocals by none other than Michael Jackson, who also sang on two of Michael’s (McDonald’s, that is) other tracks from the Minute by Minute album: Here to Love You and Minute by Minute, the latter winning The Doobies their fourth Grammy, for Best Pop Vocal Performance.
Interviewed on Icon Fetch, Tom—who co-founded The Doobies in 1970 but was replaced by Michael in 1975 due to a peptic ulcer—reflects on Michael’s contributions to the band.
When host Tony Peters points out that Michael took The Doobies in a completely different direction than the path Tom had paved, Tom says:
“That would be correct. And, ah—actually, that was a blessing. Because he also had a slew of songs.
“He was not brought in for that reason, but it turns out he had all these songs he had written.
“That ended up being Takin’ It to the Streets [in 1976]. And then Minute By Minute was a huge album. They got, like, two or three Grammys on that.
“So he kept the band present in people’s minds. Brought in a whole new audience, because it was a totally different style of music.”
While Michael retired from the rock scene in 2001, Tom is back with The Doobies for their first new album more than a decade, World Gone Crazy, which was released Tuesday—as well as a world tour, which kicks off today.
Click here to hear Tom Johnston’s full interview.
Click here to visit The Doobie Brothers official website.