Long Train Runnin’: Our Story of the Doobie Brothers

Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons, Chris Epting
Long Train Runnin’: Our Story of the Doobie Brothers
Tom Johnston in 1975.

For 50 years, the Doobie Brothers’ feel-good hits have been radio staples. In these pages, vocalists/guitarists Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons share memories and insights such as how the much-hyped psychedelic band Moby Grape was a massive influence. In 1968, a college-aged Pat Simmons went to San Francisco to see a Jimi Hendrix gig at Winterland, where he was offered a joint by the crowd-mingling star himself!

Tom Johnston: Ian Dickson/Getty.

The creation of the Doobies’ albums is covered, and there’s plenty of guitar discussion. Tom Johnston praises Simmons’ fingerpicking and says he developed his own chunka-chunka technique by playing acoustic and “trying to cover both guitar and drum parts together, backbeat style.” Simmons recalls sitting in Van Halen recording sessions with shared producer Ted Templeman, watching Eddie, saying, “He was just simply better than anybody, sitting there inventing and reinventing the art of playing guitar.”

Co-author Chris Epting reasons the band was too commercially successful for the critics, but perhaps bassist Tiran Porter’s observation is best: “People picked up on the authenticity of the Doobie Brothers, and I think that’s why so many of the songs live as anthems today.”

This article originally appeared in VG’s November 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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