The Doobies came out of the late 60s and were regular pros by the time their debut album came out. Building a legacy of integrity and dedication to their fan base, the Doobies have continued to evolve in an ever-changing business and produced multiple platinum albums and top charting hits. Their album Takin’ it to the Streets turns 42 this year, and the album might not have happened without Michael McDonald.
When the Doobies started out, Tom Johnston was their lead singer and songwriter. Constant touring was taking a toll on the singer, and by 1974, he was diagnosed with severe stomach ulcers. The band had to cancel many tour dates and even considered breaking up until bandmate Jeff Baxter called upon his friend Michael McDonald to take on the lead position in the Doobies (Baxter and McDonald knew each other from playing in Steely Dan). McDonald was reluctant at first, but eventually settled in. After getting his feet wet rehearsing with the band and touring, Michael was expecting to be let go from the Doobies; however, he was brought into the studio to work on their next album.
In the studio, the band realized they needed more songs to add to their album. Michael McDonald was a songwriter with his own material. They made a decision to listen to some of McDonald’s demos. While they knew his music style would potentially take them in a different direction, their producer Ted Templeman encouraged them to give him a chance. According to band member Patrick Simmons, Templeman told the band they had a diamond in the rough that could be made into something if they wanted to go ahead (30 Years of the Doobies). The album Takin it to the Streets was the result of those studio sessions and it became a top 10 hit for the band. This year, the album turns 42 and not only shows the longevity of their music, it also shows that McDonald was a key player in the success of the album. Without him, the album may have never came to be.
(The Doobie Brothers perform the song “Takin’ it to the Streets” live in 1977. The song was a #13 hit for the band. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
The Doobie Brothers have built a legacy on integrity and dedication to their fanbase. With multiple platinum albums and chart-topping hits, the band has been through a few evolutions in their time. One of which happened in their making of Takin’ it to the Streets. They didn’t have enough songs to make the album and looked to Michael McDonald’s demos to bring in some material. Without McDonald, the album may have never come to fruition.
~Jenna Jakes, WOGB