This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

Tom Johnston (born Charles Thomas Johnston, August 15, 1948, in Visalia, California, is an American musician. He is a guitarist and vocalist, and co-founded The Doobie Brothers with drummer John Hartman, guitarist Patrick Simmons and bassist Dave Shogren.


Johnston's favorite music as he grew up included Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley, James Brown, and other rhythm and blues artists featured on the radio in the 1950s. At the age of twelve, he took up guitar following the stylings of Freddie King and Chuck Berry, and had formed his first band by age fourteen. In his early career he played in a variety of bands, including a Mexican wedding band that played half soul and half Latin music. His interest in rhythm and blues led to his singing in a soul group from a neighboring town and, eventually, his own blues band.

Johnston moved to San Jose to finish college and started playing in bands around town. It was here that he met Skip Spence, a former drummer with Jefferson Airplane, and founding member of a group that had a major influence on the Doobie Brothers - Moby Grape. Spence introduced Johnston to John Hartman. Johnston and Hartman soon formed their own band, Pud, featuring Greg Murphy on bass. Pud played many clubs in and around San Jose, including the Golden Horn Lounge in Cupertino, California, which no longer exists. Murphy was soon replaced by Shogren, Simmons was recruited, and Pud gave way to the Doobie Brothers.

Johnston wrote and sang many of the Doobie Brothers' early hits, including "Listen to the Music," "Rockin' Down the Highway," "China Grove," and "Long Train Runnin'." He also sang the hit song "Take Me in Your Arms" (written by Holland-Dozier-Holland).[1]

In December 1973, the British music magazine, NME reported that Johnston had been arrested in California on a charge of marijuana possession.[2]

Following years of road touring lifestyle and health challenges, Johnston became severely ill and was hospitalized on the eve of a major tour in 1975 to promote Stampede. Johnston's illness led to the emergency hiring of Michael McDonald, who became the lead singer of the band. After a few years of restored health but diminished influence in the group, Johnston finally left in 1977 to pursue a solo career that produced two albums with Warner Bros: Everything You've Heard Is True and Still Feels Good (reissued on compact disc by Wounded Bird Records). Johnston toured in the late 1970s and early 1980s with the Tom Johnston Band, which featured fellow Doobie alum John Hartman on drums.

In 1985, Johnston toured U.S. clubs with a group called Border Patrol, that also included former Doobies Michael Hossack and briefly Patrick Simmons. This group toured but never recorded. In 1987, he contributed a tune to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack entitled "Where are You Tonight?"

Johnston joined the Doobie Brothers when they reunited together for a brief tour in 1987 to benefit Vietnam veterans. This event led to the permanent reformation of the band, with Johnston again taking the helm alongside co-founder Simmons. Johnston co-wrote, sang and contributed a signature guitar solo to the group's last major chart hit, "The Doctor" (from 1989's Cycles).This was followed by the album "Brotherhood" in 1991 which featured 4 songs by Johnston, and "Sibling Rivalry" in 2000 featuring the single "People Gotta Love Again". The Doobies most recent album "World Gone Crazy" features 13 songs, eight of which were penned by Johnston including the album's title track and the first single "Nobody", a rerecording of the band's first single in 1971.

In the summer and fall of 2007, Johnston was forced to miss several shows following a surgery for throat ailment. Upon his return, he received vocal assistance from fellow Doobies Pat Simmons and John McFee on certain tunes that he had traditionally sung in their entirety.


Johnston and his wife now live in northern Marin County, California. His daughter Lara was a competitor on MTV's Rock the Cradle and was a 2011 participant in American Idol being eliminated at the "group round" stage of competition. His son Christopher lives and works in Marin.


With the Doobie Brothers (incomplete)Edit


  • Everything You've Heard Is True (1979) - includes song "Savannah Nights"
  • Still Feels Good (1981)

Cite error: <ref> tags exist, but no <references/> tag was found

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.