John McFee was born on September 9, 1950, in Santa Cruz, California and began playing music “so young I can’t remember a time when I didn’t play music.” With his interest in a wide range of musical styles he seems to have found the perfect band in The Doobie Brothers. “I was a big fan of the group before I ever thought about joining them – they were always experimenting and mixing blues, country, jazz, rock – all into their own style.” Before joining the Doobies on guitar, violin, pedal steel, vocals (and whatever else the music calls for) in the late seventies, John’s varied musical interests were reflected in his own career. He has recorded with Van Morrison, The Grateful Dead, Carlene Carter, Steve Miller, Emmylou Harris, Boz Scaggs, Elvis Costello, The Kendalls, Eikichi Yazawa, Link Wray, Crystal Gayle, Rick James, John Michael Montgomery, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, Ricky Scaggs, Nick Lowe, Pam Tillis, The Beach Boys, and many others besides his work as a Doob. He was also a long time member of the group Clover, which was to evolve into Huey Lewis and the News, and has played on two of Huey’s albums.
John and late Doobies drummer Keith Knudsen (along with former Creedence Clearwater Revival bassist Stu Cook) teamed up to form the country rock group Southern Pacific, and released five albums (Southern Pacific, Killbilly Hill, Zuma, County Line, and a Greatest Hits package) during the ’80s, creating several number one and top ten hits on the national country charts. John was a writer on most their hits, and “For me it was a way of getting back to my musical roots” he says, and he continues to do session work for various top country artists. Southern Pacific was named New Country Group of the Year when they debuted and have been honored by having their name added to the Country Music Association’s Walkway of Stars in Nashville, Tennessee.
One thing that John has long had in common with other Doobie members (as you can see from Pat and Tom’s pages) is his admiration for the legendary group Moby Grape. In 1992, John produced Moby Grape founding member Peter Lewis’ solo album for European release, a project John feels ranks amongst the best albums he has ever worked on (high praise considering this list includes, besides the Doobie recordings he has done, such albums as Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey and St. Dominic’s Preview, Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True, Huey Lewis’ Sports, Steve Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle, etc.)
John lives with his wife Marcy near Santa Barbara in California. Their son, Shane is a guitarist himself, and the creator of music effects software Recabinet. Besides John’s music and his family, his interests include Apple computers, motorcycling, and surfing.