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The Doobie Brothers: 35 Years Of Rock And Roll


For more than 35 years, the Doobie Brothers have been "Taking it to the Streets" with their unique style of guitar driven rock music. VOA's Larry London recently caught up with the group outside Washington, DC and has more on this legendary band.

When they hit the music world in 1971 this was state-of-the-art technology. Today - 30 years later - the technology is quite different but the band, they are still going strong.

Who are they? They are the Doobie Brothers! Founding members Pat Simmons and Tom Johnston.

Pat Simmons, takes us back to the beginning. "We started out in '70 and this has been just a kind of continuous tour -- the tour that never ends. To me, it is like touring again for the first time in a way because you play for all these new audiences that, some people have never heard you before, or somebody might not have heard you for years and years so its almost like playing for the first time for those audiences. I love that feeling of being a little off balance and not knowing what to expect.

It has always been a great experience for us, we seem to be able to connect with audiences everywhere regardless of the language. Rock and roll, music in general gives us a great ability to communicate with people on a nonverbal level. That is really an unbelievable feeling to be able to do that because you can be not even able to speak the same language as the people you are playing for - but as soon as you start playing the music you are together, they understand you and you understand them and it all becomes a big party. It is the greatest feeling in the world."

With multiple Grammy Awards, 27 chart singles, 16 top 40 hits, 11 multi-platinum albums, 13 gold albums and the Diamond award for having sold over 10 million units of a single title - "The Best of the Doobies Volume One" - the Doobie Brothers certainly know the secret to success.

Simmons says the magic is in the songs. "The songs are what makes us able to do what we do. If we did not have the songs we would never be anywhere."

Songs indeed, including many classics. "We try to start out with something that has energy to it. I think that is the one thing we go for," Simmons said.

Fellow founder Tom Johnston adds, "If you get out there and know the song is going to get a reaction and you see it get a reaction, then you have succeeded in doing what you came to do as far as live performance: get the crowd up and interacting with you and responding. And certain songs you know will do that. That keeps them fresh in that instance alone, that night alone. The only thing that gets old is the traveling. The playing -- our drummer who passed away last year used to say, we get paid for the 22 hours it takes to get here, we play for nothing."

And it shows. Just watching them perform reveals how much fun it is…even after all these years.

So where did all these classic titles and sounds come from? How do they keep on doing it? "I just kind of collect all this stuff and when I sit down to write a song sometimes I will pull these out and look at them, they will make me think of something," says SImmons. "For me, I will be working on a song and it will remind me of something else. Then I start thinking I would like to write a song like that, and that is one way (to write a song). A lot of time I'll just hear something and I'll listen to the drum thing and I'll go, 'Wow, that drum thing was so cool,' and I'll try to duplicate something like that and then write a song that is my own expression within those boundaries," -- a successful recipe for the Dobbie Brothers according to Simmons.

The band's current tour runs until December when they will return to the studio to record a new album - it will be their 23rd.

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