The Doobie Brothers became yet another band to announce a reunion earlier this week when they rolled out dates for a 2020 50th-anniversary tour with former keyboardist-singer Michael McDonald back in the fold for the first time since 1995. They announced it to fans during a show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on November 18th when McDonald came out for the final encore of “Takin’ It to the Streets.”
McDonald wasn’t an original Doobie. He joined in 1976 when original singer Tom Johnston was sidelined by health issues. They had some pretty major hits before that point (“Listen to the Music,” “China Grove,” and “Black Water”), but McDonald helped them continue the streak by contributing “Takin’ It to the Streets,” “What a Fool Believes,” “Real Love,” and “Minute by Minute.”
He stuck around through their 1980 LP One Step Closer and a farewell tour two years later. By the time the tour ended on September 11th, 1982, at L.A.’s Greek Theatre, he’d already released his solo debut If That’s What It Takes and the lead single “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” was all over the radio. Here’s video of the Doobies playing it at the final concert.
The Doobie Brothers reformed in 1987, but McDonald was an established solo artist by then and declined to rejoin. Johnston’s solo career wasn’t nearly as successful, so he came back and has remained there to this day. McDonald did briefly return for a series of co-headlining shows with the Steve Miller Band in 1995 and has popped up at their gigs a handful of times over the years, but this tour next year is a major event in Doobie history and, quite likely, the last chance fans will have to see Johnston and McDonald onstage at the same time.