Doobie Brothers’ 50th Anniversary Tour to Continue Without Tom Johnston

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Tom Johnston and Michael McDonald in 2022

The Doobie Brothers have announced that Tom Johnston will be undergoing surgery following what is described as “severe back pain.” The guitarist and singer thus won’t be joining the band on the upcoming leg of their 50th anniversary tour. The news, posted on the band’s Facebook page today (May 22), notes that Johnston, who turns 75 on August 15, “is looking forward to returning to the road as soon as possible.” The group, with Pat Simmons, Michael McDonald and John McFee, resume their tour on May 25. The classic rock legends’ reunion with McDonald, their former lead vocalist and keyboardist, was originally announced on Nov. 18, 2019.

The run was first set to start on June 9, 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic and postponed for roughly a year. It finally began on August 22, 2021. After an extended run in 2022, the 2023 edition resumed in April with many dates in Australia and Japan. Their North American tour currently continues through October. Tickets are available at

The band has typically played a 25-song set that includes such favorites as Johnston songs “Long Train Runnin'” and “Listen to the Music,” as well as “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” “China Grove,” plus deeper cuts like “South City Midnight Lady” and “Eyes of Silver.”

Watch McDonald sing “What a Fool Believes” at their Sept. 14, 2021 concert

Watch them perform “Long Train Runnin’,” “China Grove” and “Black Water” in 2022

On Jan. 15, 2020, the Doobie Brothers were finally chosen for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020.

Watch McDonald sing their 1976 hit “Takin’ It to the Streets”

The group’s Fall 2019 original surprise reunion announcement was at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium when the former frontman joined the band on stage. The tour reunites McDonald with founding members Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons, and longtime member John McFee, for a North American run to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary.

As they finished the Nov. 18, 2019, encore of “Black Water,” Simmons said to the audience, “You might remember him from, well, he has his own band these days… But you might remember him from his band, the Doobie Brothers… Mr. Michael McDonald.”

Out came McDonald who led the band on a performance of “Takin’ It to the Streets,” the group’s first single with him as lead vocalist.

Following the song, Simmons revealed the news of the reunion tour.

Michael McDonald performing “Takin’ It to the Streets” with the Doobie Brothers, Aug. 24, 2021

McDonald, born Feb. 12, 1952, joined the band in 1975 as a temporary replacement for Johnston who had been in poor health. It is Johnston who provides the classic rock lead vocals on many of the Doobie Brothers‘ early hits including “Listen to the Music,” “Long Train Runnin'” and “China Grove.” Simmons sang lead on their first #1 single, “Black Water.”

A greatest hits collection, Best of the Doobies, released in October 1976, contained songs from both lead singers. Though it peaked on the chart at only #5, it has over 10 million copies.

Watch Simmons sing “South City Midnight Lady” during the June 19, 2022 stop of the reunion tour

Related: “China Grove” – Admit it, you don’t know the lyrics

The Doobie Brothers’ Minute By Minute album was #1 for 5 weeks in 1979

McDonald’s soulful voice soon led to such hits as “Minute By Minute,” “Real Love” and the group’s second #1, “What a Fool Believes.” The group’s Minute By Minute album was a huge seller, topping the album charts for five weeks.

The band’s career soared to even greater success and when Johnston returned, briefly, he had a diminished role. Several years later, when Simmons also departed, the Doobie Brothers disbanded.

Related: Our interview with Johnston and Simmons

When the Doobie Brothers were finally inducted into the Rock Hall, the following members were included: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, John Hartman, Michael Hossack, Johnston, Keith Knudsen, McDonald, McFee, Tiran Porter and Simmons.

The Doobie Brothers 2023 Tour (Tickets are available at and here)

May 25 – Hollywood, FL – Hard Rock Live
May 26 – St. Petersburg, FL – Duke Energy Center For the Arts
May 28 – Concord, NC – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Jun 07 – Highland, CA – Yaamava Casino
Jun 09 – Sparks, NV – Nugget Casino Resort
Jun 11 – West Valley City, UT – Maverik Center
Jun 14 – Kansas City, MO – Starlight Theatre
Jun 15 – Springfield, MO – Great Southern Bank Arena
Jun 17 – Sioux City, IA – Tyson Events Center
Jun 18 – Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena
Jun 20 – Duluth, MN – Amsoil Arena
Jun 21 – Madison, WI – Breese Stevens Field
Jun 23 – Fort Wayne, IN – Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
Jun 24 – Peoria, IL – Peoria Civic Center
Jun 26 – Huber Heights, OH – Rose Music Center
Jun 28 – Youngstown, OH – Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre
Jun 30 – Pikeville, KY – Appalachian Wireless Arena
Jul 01 – Louisville, KY – The Louisville Palace
Jul 03 – Portsmouth, VA – Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion
Jul 06 – Reading, PA – Santander PAC
Jul 08 – New Brunswick, NJ – State Theatre New Jersey
Jul 09 – New Brunswick, NJ – State Theatre New Jersey
Jul 11 – Morristown, NJ – Mayo PAC
Jul 12 – Morristown, NJ – Mayo PAC
Jul 14 – Canandaigua, NY – CMAC
Aug 18 – Waite Park, MN – The Ledge Amphitheater
Aug 20 – Lincoln, NE – Pinewood Bowl
Aug 23 – Camdenton, MO – Ozarks Amphitheater
Aug 26 – Brandon, MS – Brandon Amphitheater
Aug 28 – Biloxi, MS – Mississippi Coast Coliseum
Aug 30 – Huntsville, AL – Orion Amphitheatre
Aug 31 – Franklin, TN – Firstbank Amphitheater
Sep 02 – Macon, GA – Macon Centreplex
Sep 03 – Savannah, GA – Enmarket Arena
Sep 06 – Simpsonville, SC – CCNB Amphitheater at Heritage Park
Sep 07 – Greensboro, NC – White Oak Amphitheatre
Sep 09 – Charleston, SC – Credit One Stadium
Oct 05 – National Harbor, MD – The Theater at MGM National Harbor
Oct 06 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Arena
Oct 08 – Atlantic City, NJ – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Oct 13 – Halifax, NS – Scotiabank Centre
Oct 14 – Moncton, NB – Avenir Centre
Oct 16 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Tire Centre
Oct 17 – Ottawa, ON – Tribute Communities Centre
Oct 19 – St. Catherines, ON – Meridian Centre
Oct 22 – Winnipeg, MB – Canada Life Centre
Oct 24 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place
Oct 25 – Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome
Oct 27 – Kelowna, BC – Prospera Place
Oct 28 – Abbotsford, BC – Abbotsford Centre

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

Best Classic Bands Staff

26 Comments so far

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  1. Ratbone
    #1 Ratbone 20 November, 2019, 00:35

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Don’t tour with McDonald! He single-handedly destroyed The Doobie Brothers! McDonald took a rockin’ band and turned it into shit!

    Reply this comment
    • LakeCity Leroy
      LakeCity Leroy 25 November, 2019, 22:19

      Agree 100%. I was excited to get tickets until I saw that travesty. I never cared for the band while he was a member.

      Reply this comment
    • Bolt Backer
      Bolt Backer 23 May, 2021, 21:55

      Your comment sounds so uneducated, you did not like the McD. Era that’s fine, but it sure was not shit, they were 2 different sounds and allowed a great band to continue and expand there musical sounds. If 4 Grammies and multi amount of top singles is shit, then I guess shit is good. Your opinion is your own, but to define thu music as shit is very narrowed minded. Give the McD. Era it’s credit if you like it or not. It’s still has its value and many fans agree. M. McD. Is one of the greatest vocalist/Song writers /Keyboard player who created a style of music that was copied by many of artist. I’ll be at a few of the shows rocketing out and appreciating both era’s of the DB’s. —Peace…

      Reply this comment
      • Natasha
        Natasha 28 August, 2021, 04:39

        Well said, friend. I for one like pre-McDonald and with him.

        Reply this comment
      • Jarmo Keranen
        Jarmo Keranen 11 September, 2021, 04:41

        I agree that he is a great songwriter and keyboard player. But his voice is nightmare to me. Every record he made with the Doobie Brothers would be much better, if someone else sings those songs!

        Reply this comment
      • NinjaPilot212
        NinjaPilot212 17 September, 2021, 09:01

        Thank you! McD held band together when Johnston had bleeding ulcers…with Tom’s blessings. And the band has endured.

        Reply this comment
    • Lola
      Lola 17 September, 2021, 11:24

      Michael McDonald made the Doobie Brothers. Minute by Minute, Taking it to the Streets, What a Fool Believes, all classic hits.

      Reply this comment
      • Greg Brodsky
        Greg Brodsky 17 September, 2021, 14:27

        Lola… McDonald joined the group after their first 5 albums. While his contribution is significant, the band had already had plenty of success with 3 Top Ten albums and pop hits with “Listen to the Music,” “Long Train Runnin’,” “China Grove” and more, before he joined.

        Reply this comment
  2. DD Dillard
    #2 DD Dillard 20 November, 2019, 03:34

    Doobies HOPE to make it to The RR Hall of Fame? What a travesty. I mean NWA and The Beastie Boys are there. Which is a fucking JOKE. RRHOF has lost all credibility.

    Reply this comment
  3. Bomber
    #3 Bomber 20 November, 2019, 13:48

    When I was in junior high our entire class won their greatest hits album.Hope Skunk Baxter takes some time off to tour with them

    Reply this comment
  4. Curly
    #4 Curly 1 June, 2021, 21:49

    This will be a great 50th tour. I have my tickets. I have been talking to Michael on line about the tour. I’m really looking forward to the show.

    Reply this comment
  5. Hazyguru
    #5 Hazyguru 8 June, 2021, 21:10

    Would love to see them tour down under in Australia. No covid here!

    Reply this comment
  6. Dee
    #6 Dee 29 August, 2021, 19:37

    McD kept them going for many years!! Definitely had a better sound WITH HIM!!

    Reply this comment
  7. Da Mick
    #7 Da Mick 11 September, 2021, 10:44

    They were, essentially, two different bands that both sounded great in their own ways. But McDonald certainly did not “destroy” the Doobie Brothers. If anything he kept it going after Tom Johnston jumped ship. The band probably would have disbanded were it not for McDonald. Instead, they had some of their greatest success. Also, with regard to Bomber’s comment, they have no room for Skunk Baxter in the band as they already have three guitar players. Plus, Johnston pretty much wants to play lead all the time, so their other excellent guitar player in John McFee has to just play rhythm (along with Patrick Simmons) and some steel. Johnston is the voice of all those iconic early Doobies hits, but for a guy who left the band high (no pun intended) and dry, at one point, he’s pretty much reclaimed it as HIS band. Adding McDonald for this tour is a nice touch, which will make their shows a lot more interesting. For as many hit songs as they had, a night of listening to almost all Johnston’s voice gets wearisome, even if you’re a fan,

    Reply this comment
    • Jeff Tamarkin
      Jeff Tamarkin 11 September, 2021, 12:42

      To be fair to Johnston, he was pretty sick when he left.

      Reply this comment
      • Stevel1957
        Stevel1957 28 September, 2023, 10:20

        He was NOT sick when he left. He came back, after he recovered, and had five songs on Livin On The fault line. As they were about to press the record, he pulled the songs off fault Line and presumably put the material on the first of his solo efforts. He recently stated on CBS Sunday Morning that he just wasnt into the direction they were headed, even with the fact he likely had half the songs on the record. I saw his solo shows, billed as The Tom Johnston Band and later Border patrol, with Phil AAberg of Elvin Bishop fame and Starship’s eventual drummer.

        Reply this comment
    • Rick
      Rick 17 September, 2021, 09:09

      Tom Johnston had a bleeding ulcer when he left the band for health reasons.

      Reply this comment
    • Dr. .Buddy Love
      Dr. .Buddy Love 13 January, 2022, 00:06

      Johnston didn’t jump ship. For Christ’s sake, he had bleeding ulcers. He approved of Mcdonald joining the band. He saved it.

      Reply this comment
    • Jim
      Jim 1 July, 2022, 06:45

      Da Mick has it right in one regard in that the McD Doobies and pre-McD Doobies are two different bands, each with their own strengths. I love them both and have seen them several times with both line-ups. Baxter is currently touring in support of his own (strong) album and wouldn’t have time to join the Doobies.

      Reply this comment
    • JCB
      JCB 28 February, 2023, 08:48

      Tom is and always was the “band”. His writing, singing and guitar playing made those first albums shine. Pat is a great partner. The “Captain and Me” was one of greatest albums of the 70’s. Every song is a classic. If there is a better Doobies song than “Dark Eyed Cajun Woman” I haven’t heard it. I saw them in 2019 for the 9th time, without McDonald, and they killed it. They blew the roof off, what a band.

      Reply this comment
  8. Paco
    #8 Paco 16 September, 2021, 00:37

    Surprised there was no mention of Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne in the article. He’s been accompanying The Doobies on tour quite frequently for the past 2 years or more…

    Reply this comment
  9. Texas Doobie
    #9 Texas Doobie 12 March, 2022, 16:44

    Come to the smaller venues who supported your band

    Reply this comment
  10. Da Mick
    #10 Da Mick 13 March, 2022, 00:21

    My mistake, folks. With apologies to Tom Johnston. I was not aware of his illness as the reason for his departure back in the day. Glad he made it through that and back to the stage
    I saw tgem with Tom just a few years ago, and as you pointed out, Paco. Bill Payne was playing keyboards with them. Wonder if he’ll be able to do this Doobies Anniversary tour, as he’s doing the Feat Anniversary tour for “Waiting For Columbus,” Thanks for setting me straight, Jeff, Rick, and Dr. Love.

    Reply this comment
  11. Jazzdude
    #11 Jazzdude 7 July, 2022, 13:46

    I was disappointed to hear Michael McDonald joining the Doobie Bros. The only reason I’ve seen them in concert was when McDonald decided to leave the band.

    There’s something about his voice that makes me either change the radio station or switch to another CD.

    I can barely put up with background voice on Steely Dan’s “Peg” which is the only week cut on Aja.

    Reply this comment

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