Are you a fan of The Doobie Brothers? They were one of the greatest and most iconic rock bands of their generation and their music is still loved by fans, old and new, today.
The band had several members, who weren’t actual brothers but were close enough to be brothers. The band members rotated at different times to give us some of the best music of their time.
Sadly, many of The Doobie Brothers Band members have now passed away. Their lives were fascinating and awe-inspiring and are worth a revisit.
Let’s learn about The Doobie Brothers Band Member Deaths That We’re Still Sad About…
John Hartman was born on March 18, 1950, in Falls Church, Virginia. Not much is known about his early life but it’s clear that he was born to be a musician as he wasted no time in pursuing his interests.
His instrument of choice was the drums, and he was one of the original founders of The Doobie Brothers and was the first drummer for the band. To this day, he’s recognized as one of the best drummers for the band and indeed one of the best drummers of his generation.
He took a hiatus from the band in 1979 after completing a promotional tour with the band. He lived on a ranch in California and wanted to focus on looking after the huge number of Arabian horses that he owned.
But he eventually re-joined the band and participated on several other albums of theirs including reunion albums. He eventually left the band again and largely retired from the music industry, though his contribution was certainly never forgotten.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. Sadly, he passed away on December 29, 2021, when he was 71 years old. His death wasn’t announced by The Doobie Brothers until September of 2022.
His contribution to rock music is incredible and many future drummers for The Doobie Brothers took inspiration from John’s skill and craft.
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Michael Hossack was born on October 17, 1946, in Paterson, New Jersey. Like John Hartman, he developed a love for music at a very young age.
He started playing drums as a Boy Scout and often played the instrument alongside other drummers. His teachers were a huge influence on him learning his craft and instilled the discipline in him to study the instrument.
He served in the US Navy during the Vietnam. Upon returning from his service, he initially decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. However, a friend convinced him to join a band called Morning Reign.
He did join the band as a drummer and had a short-lived career with them. Though short-lived, this was enough for him to get attention from The Doobie Brothers. He joined the band as a drummer and worked on some of their best albums such as The Captain and Me and What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits.
After leaving the band he mostly focused on working behind the scenes in music. He did rejoin the band to perform in a series of concerts for raising funds for veterans causes.
He died on March 12, 2012, at the age of 65 in Wyoming. He was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. Like his predecessor John Hartman, he became known as one of the most popular rock drummers of his generation and is still an influence on artists today.
Keith Knudsen was born on February 18, 1948, in Le Mars, Iowa. As a high schooler, he began playing drums while attending school in Princeton, Illinois. He played for a few bands before becoming the drummer for the prominent vocalist Lee Michaels.
He became a big star when he replaced Michael Hossack in 1974 and became the new drummer for The Doobie Brothers. Apart from his drumming he also performed backing vocals for some of their songs. He was also a co-drummer with some of the other drummers such as John Hartman and Chet McCracken.
He and John McFee, a fellow Doobie Brother, created their own country rock band together and began performing together. The band was called Southern Pacific and he had success with it as he did with The Doobie Brothers.
He was one of the most prolific artists of his time and continued to perform with The Doobie Brothers for much of his life. He sadly died of pneumonia at the age of 56 in 2005. He recorded 7 albums with The Doobie Brothers and 4 albums with Southern Pacific.
His albums with The Doobie Brothers were among the most successful for the band as they all reached the top 10 of the charts – with Minute by Minute reaching #1. The last album he worked on with The Doobie Brothers was Sibling Rivalry – released in the year 2000 – 5 years before his death.
Phillip Jackson was born on September 28, 1951, in Oakland, California. While still in his teens, he would perform in a variety of bands and knew that he wanted to become a professional musician. Soon enough he became known by his popular stage name, Norton Buffalo.
He eventually moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and performed with popular bands and artists such as Elvin Bishop, Bill Kirchen, and Clover among many others. He performed with many great bands and had notable success with The Steve Miller Band.
He also had success with The Doobie Brothers – performing the harmonica on several of their songs. He was noted for his plethora of talents – being an expert harmonica player as well as a singer and songwriter.
Apart from his extensive music career he also had a short-lived but prominent movie career. He had cameo appearances in films such as Heaven’s Gate and The Rose. Along with Mike Hinton he co-wrote the music for Eddie Macon’s Run and Stacy’s Knights.
He died at the age of 58 on October 30, 2009, in Paradise, California. Like many of his former Doobie Brothers band members, his life was short-lived but his impact on music will last for several lifetimes.
Cornelius Bumpus was born on May 7, 1945, in Dallas, Texas. He performed in a high school band and played the alto saxophone. He performed with his band Corny and the Corvettes and was a regular at school dances and at local events.
In 1966, he joined Bobby Freeman’s band as a saxophonist, and this is what gave him a big break as a musician. He had much success with Bobby Freeman’s band but the opportunities that came after this stint are what defined his career.
He performed as a saxophonist and organist with bands such as Steely Dan, and of course, The Doobie Brothers. With The Doobie Brothers he performed on the albums: One Step Closer, Farewell Tour, Rockin’ Down The Highway: The Wildlife Concert.
With Steely Dan, he performed on their album Alive in America.
He also released a solo album called A Clear View. He was recognized as one of the best saxophonists of his time and an artist who managed to work across genres with a variety of great bands.
While on a flight to New York to California he sadly suffered a heart attack. The plane made an emergency landing in Sioux City, Iowa. He was due to receive medical service, but he sadly died as the plane was landing. He died on February 3, 2004, at the age of 58.
Robert Jay LaKind was born on November 3, 1945, in New York. He’s remembered as a prominent conga player, vocalist, and songwriter. He originally worked as a roadie for The Doobie Brothers before becoming a ‘brother’ himself.
While the band members were relaxing, some of them noticed Bobby playing on the congas and took notice of his talent. He joined the band and added to their already enormous success.
He performed with them onstage and also performed on some of their albums. He left the band when they had their dissolution in the early 1980s. He joined The Doobie Brothers again in the late 1980s when they decided to reunite. He performed on their album Cycles.
Sadly, he became ill and had to step aside from The Doobie Brothers. He had also performed with a couple other bands while performing alongside The Doobie Brothers. He was a part of the band The Bonedaddys, which performed Afro-Cuban music. This showed that he had incredible range and that he could work well on a variety of genres and with different artists. With The Bonedaddys, he worked on the albums “A-Koo-De-A” and “Worldbeatniks.”
He passed away from colon cancer on Christmas Eve 1992 at the age of 47. Like his other bandmates, his contribution to American music has not gone unnoticed and one hopes that he’ll receive more acclaim in the future.
Are you a fan of The Doobie Brothers? Did you know any of these fun facts about the band members?
Here’s what we’d like to know from you:
Do you think that The Doobie Brothers are still an influential band today? Or do you think that tastes have changed and their style doesn’t influence artists today?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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