Minute by Minute‘s triumph was bittersweet because it coincided with the near-dissolution of the band…. as the pressure of touring while recording and releasing an album each year had worn the members down….for Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Michael McDonald had been in creative conflict for some time….when McDonald desired a direct, soulful and polished rock/R&B sound….while Baxter insisted on embellishing guitar parts in an increasingly avant-garde style…..then just as Minute by Minute‘s success became apparent, John Hartman, Baxter, and Bobby LaKind left the band….when a two-song set on the January 27, 1979, broadcast of Saturday Night Live with guest host Michael Palin, marked the final television appearance of this lineup.
With the surprise smash album embedded in the charts and more money to be earned on the road….that is when the remaining Doobies (Simmons, Knudsen, McDonald and Porter) decided to forge ahead. In 1979, Hartman was replaced by session drummer Chet McCracken and Baxter by multi-instrumental string player John McFee….and Cornelius Bumpus (who had been part of a recent reunion of Moby Grape) was also recruited to add vocals, keyboards, saxophones and flute to the lineup. This lineup toured throughout 1979, including stops at Madison Square Garden and New York City’s Battery Park for the No Nukes benefit shows with like-minded artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Crosby, Stills & Nash, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and John Hall.
By the end of 1981, even Simmons had left the band…..so, now faced with the prospect of calling themselves The Doobie Brothers with no remaining original members….and a “leader” in McDonald who was ready for a solo career….that is when the group elected instead to disband after a rehearsal without Simmons….who had already worked on his first solo album, Arcade….but he rejoined the group for a 1982 farewell tour on the condition that this truly would be the end of the Doobie Brothers.
At their last concert at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California on September 11, 1982, they were joined onstage by founding member Tom Johnston for what was presumed to be the final rendition of his staple, “China Grove”. Former members Porter, Hossack and Hartman subsequently took the stage for an extended version of “Listen to the Music”….as Knudsen sang lead vocals while Johnston, Simmons and McFee traded licks on guitar…..when the live album Farewell Tour was released in 1983.
As seen in this video herewith…..The Doobie Brothers sings “Something’s Got A Hold Of Me” live at their 1983 farewell concert.