Tom Johnston was born in Visalia, California on August 15th, 1948. Tom’s favorite music as he grew up included Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Elvis, James Brown and lots of rhythm and blues on the radio. At the age of 12 Tom took up guitar, and had his first band at age 14. In his early career he played in a variety of bands, including such groups as a Mexican Wedding Band that played half soul and half Mexican music. His interest in rhythm and blues led to his singing in a soul group from a neighboring town and, and eventually his own blues band.
Tom moved to San Jose to finish college and started playing in bands around San Jose. It was here that he met the legendary Skip Spence. Skip was the original drummer of the Jefferson Airplane; Skip went on to become a founding member of the group which had a major influence on the Doobie Brothers and which many consider the finest group to emerge from the San Francisco music scene of the 1960’s – Moby Grape.
It was Skip who introduced Tom to John Hartman.
“We put together several bands that featured horns and even several power trios. We lived in a house that served as the musical headquarters for the now functioning Doobie Brothers Band. Pat Simmons joined the group with Dave Shogren playing bass.” Tom’s sense of humor comes through when describing the results of their early efforts: “We made our first album for Warner Brothers which went teflon!”
Then some things happened which seem to have given the group the right combination: “The group changed when Tiran Porter replaced Dave on bass.” The finishing touch, which has become an important part of the Doobies’ music – double drummers – came when “Michael Hossack was added as the second drummer.”
From that point forward the band started to really take off! Tom wrote
“Listen To The Music” and “Rockin Down The Highway,” and with help from
“Jesus Is Just Alright,” the band and Toulouse Street was on it’s way!