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Best known for his guitar work in the Doobie Brothers, Tom Johnston was born August 15, 1948, in Visalia, CA. Johnston fell in love with R&B music at a young age and learned to play the songs of Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and James Brown when he received his first guitar at the age of 12. He played in soul, blues, and even a Mexican wedding band in his teens and continued playing in a blues group while attending college in San Jose. It was there he met the legendary lead singer of Moby Grape, Skip Spence, who was drumming for the Jefferson Airplane at the time. Spence introduced Johnston to John Hartman and the two would play together in numerous bands, finally finding success when they formed the Doobie Brothers.
Despite Johnston's disappointment that the first Doobies album went "Teflon" instead of gold or platinum, he stuck with the band and wrote "Listen to the Music" and "Rockin' Down the Highway" — two songs that would be key to the band's massive success. A stomach ailment kept Johnston off the band's 1975 tour and his replacement — Michael McDonald — would eventually change the band's sound. Johnston didn't like where the band was going and decided to leave in 1977 for a solo career. His solo albums Everything You've Heard Is True from 1979 and Still Feels Good from 1981 failed to make much of an impact. In 1988, he rejoined the McDonald-less Doobies and wrote their minor 1989 hit, "The Doctor."