Doobie Brothers Amsterdam 1974 Drummer John Hartman arrived in California in 1969 determined to meet Skip Spence of Moby Grape and join an aborted Grape reunion. Spence introduced Hartman to singer, guitarist, and songwriter Tom Johnston and the two proceeded to form the nucleus of what would become the Doobie Brothers. Johnston and Hartman called their fledgling group “Pud” and experimented with lineups (occasionally including Spence) and styles as they performed in and around San Jose. They were mostly a power trio (along with bassist Greg Murphy) but briefly worked with a horn section.
In 1970, they teamed up with singer, guitarist, and songwriter Patrick Simmons and bass guitarist Dave Shogren. Simmons had belonged to several area groups (among them “Scratch”, an acoustic trio with future Doobies bassist Tiran Porter) and also performed as a solo artist. He was already an accomplished fingerstyle player whose approach to the instrument complemented Johnston’s rhythmic R&B strumming.
The Doobie Brothers improved their playing by performing live all over Northern California in 1970. They attracted a particularly strong following among local chapters of the Hells Angels and got a recurring gig at one of the bikers’ favorite venues, the Chateau Liberté in the Santa Cruz mountains, and they continued playing the Chateau through the summer of 1975 (although some of these concerts did not include all band members and they were unannounced and of an impromptu nature). An energetic set of demos (eight of which were briefly and illegally released on Pickwick Records in 1980 under the title Introducing the Doobie Brothers, and have since been bootlegged on CD under that title and On Our Way Up as well, both with expanded song selections), showcased fuzz-toned dual lead electric guitars, three-part harmonies and Hartman’s frenetic drumming and earned the rock group a contract at Warner Bros. Records in 1971.