My Personal Experience Meeting the Doobie Brothers

 

~ My Story ~


 A few years ago, I had the chance to meet some of the Doobie Brothers after a rockin’ show.  I’d like to share some of my experiences of the event with you.

~ Getting There to Meet Tommy Johnston ~

There is no other rock-n-roll guitarist / singer / songwriter that I’d rather meet more than original Doobie Brother Tommy Johnston.  He’s been the biggest influence in my rock-n-roll career.  Stick, Frank, and I were able obtain after-show, backstage passes and arrange to meet several Doobie Brothers’ band members.
 

Tommy Johnston playing "China Grove"



Our Buddy "Injun" (Doobie Front Salesman)
 


I got "Backstage Passes!"

~ Chatting With Cris Simmons While We Wait ~

After a great Doobie show, we stuck our backstage passes on our coats.  The theater manager (Blair) escorted us down to the side of the stage.  We stood anxiously waiting by the stage as the road crew was tearing down.  Stick asked a roadie for a Doobie set list – and got one! 

While waiting by the stage, we met Cris Simmons, wife of original Doobie GREAT, guitar player, singer, and song writer Pat Simmons.  Cris handles a lot of the Doobie’s public relations and was fun to chat with.  She talked about the band members, the tour, and other behind the scenes stuff (Cris and I talked a little about our kids too). Being a little nervous, I enjoyed Cris’ conversation as she helped create a relaxed atmosphere. 
 


Cris Simmons and me

Here Comes Pat

Pat Simmons and Mike Hossack (long time drummer for the Doobies) came out first.  Pat Simmons is known vocally for such great hits as “Jesus is Just Alright for Me”, “Black Water”, “South City Midnight Lady”, “Dangerous”, and others. Pat was soft spoken, amicable, and interactive while signing autographs.  Pat actually offered to sign Stick’s Doobie set list.  Of course, the first words stumbling out of my mouth to Pat were unintelligible.  Like Tommy, Pat has been a long-time favorite of mine too.  Pat is a cool guy and very laid back.  After recollecting my thoughts, I was able to at least conduct some small talk with him.  He also gave us some Doobie Brother guitar picks with his signature on the reverse side.   Pat was just a super nice guy!


It was exciting to meet such a musical icon of the 70’s rock-n-roll music era and Doobie Brother co-founder guitarist, singer, and song writer like Pat. 

Pictured:

My son Stick (bass player in my band), Pat Simmons, buddy Frank (occasional sit-in guitar player in my band), and me

~ Gentle Giant Mike ~

Doobie drummer Mike Hossack was a gentle giant and witty too.  He was a big guy that you don’t appreciate until you met him up close.  Like Pat, he was very happy to conduct small talk.  I introduced him to my son and Frank.  Mike then quipped, “Your son is a bass player; I won’t hold that against him.”  During his lifetime, Mike had been in several potential life and career ending accidents but still toured with the Doobies until his death in 2012.   He always make it a point to come out to say hello to awaiting fans. 


Stick, Frank, Mike Hossack, and me

~ Clearly Thinking Unclearly ~

At this point in my story, I want to make it clear that no matter how many times you’ve practiced and went over in your head what you want to say to people you’ve idolized for many years, it all goes out the window when you meet them.  You enter a different realm of mental existence as it becomes difficult to grasp the moment and navigate your thoughts. 

I’m an entertainer, outgoing, and never short on words…. except then!

 

 

~ Won’t Be Meeting Tommy Johnston Tonight? ~

Will I finally get to meet Tommy Johnston….? PROBABLY NOT!  Another person with a backstage pass who has met the Doobies before said that Tommy Johnston doesn’t come out for these things.  I walked over to Cris Simmons and asked if that was true.  Cris stated that Tommy usually doesn’t come out for the meet and greets.  OH LORD, could this be it?  I came so close in meeting the legendary Tommy Johnston only to have my hopes dashed?

~ Wait a Second… ~

Wait, all is not lost…Here’s the most special part of this story!  Cris Simmons then added, "I told Tommy that you were the one that sent him the heartfelt e-mail about wishing to someday meet him."  She told Tommy that Dave and his son are waiting out there to meet him. 

The next 15 seconds were incredible.  I noticed that Stick and Frank were raising their eyebrows along with their cameras.  At the very same time, Chris says to me, “Here comes the guy you’ve been waiting to meet.”  I walked over to Tom Johnston, blurted out a few meaningless words, and shook his hand.  I tried to get my head together and tell him I’ve waited 38 years to meet him.  Again, all thought patterns become scrambled as you’re trying to hang on to the moment.  We exchanged greetings and small talk.  I mentioned that Lucky Afternoon plays three Doobie songs quite frequently.  At one point, I remembered I told him he was the entire package… great guitar player, great singer, and great showman.  He smiled at me and said, "Eh…. it’s a living."  He also said, "Isn't it great to get paid to do something you love?"


The moment of truth...  I met Tom Johnston!

 (Chris Simmons left, John McFee in background and Mike Hossack in foreground)

~ Tommy Johnston ~

Tommy Johnston is actually quite different in person compared to how we see him onstage.  He’s calm, relaxed, and yet appreciative of the people who admire him.  I wanted to chat with him about guitars, pickups, amps but realized he was exhausted after just finishing a fabulous show and the fact that he had about 15 people after me to at least say hello to and sign autographs.  I did not want to appear as selfish or annoying.  Tommy did chat with me for about a minute but I honestly can’t remember a lot of our conversation as I was somewhere out there orbiting the planet Jupiter. 

If ever given another chance, I think I'll be more at ease and not act like a typical "blubbering" fan;  rather, I want to be relaxed, casual, and talk about his PRS pickup configuration, his favorite guitar amps, touring in the 70's, how often does he go to the gym, and if he likes M&Ms... (last one for my son). 


Enjoying a moment in time...with my son!


Frank, Tommy, Dave (me), and my son Stick

We can't wait for the new CD / DVD!!!

~ What I Take With Me ~

First and foremost, TOM JOHNSTON MADE A SPECIAL EFFORT TO COME OUT AND MEET ME!  That’s a moment I'll take with me throughout life.  I wasn’t interested in Tommy’s autograph or picks – those are just material things.  I got to meet, shake hands with, and tell a rock icon that he has been the biggest guitar, vocal, and stage entertainer influence in my life.  Singing hits like “China Grove”, “Long Train Runnin”, Listen to the Music”, "The Doctor" and many others, his guitar licks and chops, his command of a crowd, and Tom Johnston’s lofty presence on stage is comparable to none. 

Don’t believe me….catch a show! 

No matter how we view our idols, they are people just like us.  Tom, Pat, and Mike along with Cris Simmons, were so nice to meet and talk with.  Pat is just a chillin' Doobie Brother!  Mike is like the neighbor next door who you might stop in and have a beer with.  Tommy quietly walked out with a small black gym bag, sucking on a cough drop (Vicks?), looking to meet me and shake my hand. 

Add a few other items to Tommy, Pat, and the Doobie Brothers' list…

They have consideration and appreciation for true fans like me – They never forgot their roots. 

Thank You Tommy, Pat, Mike, Cris, & Injun

 

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