Tom Johnston's facts: What happened to the lead singer of the Doobie Brothers?

Tom Johnston's facts: What happened to the lead singer of the Doobie Brothers?

Charles Thomas Johnston, better known as Tom Johnston, is an American musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is known for co-founding the Dobbie Brothers, the Grammy Award-winning rock band known for its ten albums and hit songs. Go through these details as they unpack facts about Tom Johnston, who was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.

Tom Johnston
Musician Tom Johnston and his daughter Lara Johnston at the 32nd Annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards at Lowes Hollywood Hotel on 29 April 2015 in Hollywood, California. Photo: Jeffrey Mayer
Source: Getty Images

Tom Johnston has played on and off with the Dobbie Brothers for over five decades. Why so? Read on for more details.

Tom Johnston's profile and bio summary

Birth name Charles Thomas Johnston
Birth date15 August 1948
Age 75 years (as of November 2023)
Birthplace Visalia, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Hair colour Dark brown
Eye colourDark brown
Occupation(s) Musician and songwriter
Genres Rock
Instrument(s) Vocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active1970–present
LabelsWarner Bros. and Elektra
Marital status Married
Spouse Diane Johnston
Children 2 (Lara Johnson and Christopher)
Social media FacebookWebsite

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How old is Tom Johnston?

Charles Thomas Johnston was born on 15 August 1948 in Visalia, California, USA. As of November 2023, Tom Johnston's age is 75 years old.

Early life

Johnston piqued an interest in music at an early age. The likes of Elvis Presley and James Brown influenced his taste in music. His first instruments to play were the saxophone and clarinet. He later experimented with the guitar, drums and the piano.

Johnson played in several bands, including a Mexican wedding band. He developed an interest in rhythm and blues, leading him to form his own blues band.

Tom Johnston
Johnston of the Doobie Brothers performing during Festival D'ete De Quebec on 13 July 2015 in Quebec City, Canada. Photo: Scott Legat
Source: Getty Images

Tom Johnston's band

Thomas relocated to San Jose to finalise his college education but would still play in bands around town. As a result, he met Skip Spence, who had a significant influence on the formation of the Doobie Brothers.

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Tom Johnston's songs

Within the first seven years of his association with the Doobie Brothers band, Johnston became the band's lead singer. He also wrote the band's early hits, including:

  • Listen to the Music Rockin' Down the Highway
  • China Grove
  • Long Train Runnin'
  • Another Park, Another Sunday"
  • Eyes of Silver"
  • Take Me in Your Arms
Tom Johnston's profiles
Johnston of The Doobie Brothers performing onstage during the Playing for Change - We are One Benefit concert at The Mayan In October 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Scott Dudelso
Source: Getty Images

What happened to the original lead singer of the Doobie Brothers?

In 1973, Johnston faced health challenges that forced him to take a break from music. As a result, the Doobie Brothers recruited Steely Dan to fill his position.

In 1976, after convalescing, Johnston had a brief streak in the band, contributing to several hits and making live appearances. However, he was sidelined due to exhaustion; hence, he left the band. Michael McDonald replaced him and changed the game for the Doobie Brothers.

Tom Johnston's health challenges and growing differences in music direction between band members prompted him to leave the band to pursue a solo career in 1977. He produced two albums with Warner Bros:

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  • Everything You've Heard Is True
  • Still Feels Good

In 1982, while working on his solo projects, Tom rejoined the band for their farewell tour. The Doobie Brothers later took a five-year hiatus.

Johnston rejoined the band in 1987 and performed alongside its co-founder, Patrick Simmons. The duo co-wrote Long Train Runnin': Our Story of the Doobie Brothers in 2022.

How many original Doobie Brothers are left?

Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston are the band's founding members who still play. John McFee is the band's guitarist; he joined after Jeff Baxter's departure.

Former members who had short stints include:

  • John Hartman
  • Dave Shogren
  • Tiran Porter
  • Michael Hossack
  • Keith Knudsen
  • Michael McDonald
  • Cornelius Bumpushet McCracken

What happened to the original Doobie Brothers lead singer?

In May 2023, the Doobie Brothers, through a press release, informed their fans that Tom would not be part of the band's 50th anniversary tour. Tom had a back injury and had to undergo surgery. As a result, fans curiously asked, is Tom Johnston still alive?

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Who is replacing Tom Johnston on the Doobie Brothers?

While there are no recent updates about Tom Johnston's back surgery, the band proceeded with the tour, which began in May and concluded in October 2023. Johnston is expected to return to the stage after recovery.

In the same release, Tom expressed his appreciation to the band's fans. He also highlighted that he looked forward to returning to the road after his recovery, affirming his love for music.

Who will replace Tom Johnston? Pat Simmons, John McFee and Michael McDonald continue to hold the fort in the band.

Tom Johnston
Johnston performing onstage during the Doobie Brothers 50th Anniversary tour at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre on 17 July 2022 in Alpharetta, Georgia. Photo: Paras Griffin
Source: Getty Images

Who is Tom Johnston married to?

Besides his career success, Tom is a family man. The name of Tom Johnston's wife is Diane, and the couple have been married for over 36 years. They live in northern Marin County, California, USA.

Tom Johnston's children

The singer has two children, Lara and Christopher. Tom Johnston's daughter followed in her father's shoes as an R&B singer-songwriter. Her brother, Christopher, lives and works in Marin.

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Tom Johnston's net worth

He is worth $13 million as of November 2023. He has accumulated wealth throughout his longstanding career in music, spanning five decades.

How is Tom Johnston doing after surgery? The members of the Doobie Brothers band have not disclosed any updates regarding Tom's health, possibly a move to allow him to recuperate privately. Nonetheless, the singer has an impeccable record as a co-founder of an award-winning band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.

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Source: Briefly News

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