Charles Thomas Johnston (born August 15, 1948) is an American musician. He is a guitarist and vocalist, known principally as a founder, guitarist, lead vocalist and songwriter for the rock group The Doobie Brothers, as well as for his own solo career. He has played off-and-on with The Doobie Brothers for more than 40 years, in several styles.
Johnston is most well known for both his lead guitar and vocal role in the band The Doobie Brothers, as well as for his adaptation of his own acoustic guitar style, blending a unique strum and percussive accented rhythm at the same time on one instrument. This style, interwoven with melodic hammer-ons gave Johnston an early signature sound inside of popular 1970s rock music. All the rhythm structures behind “Long Train Runnin'” and “Listen to the Music” were formulated first for an acoustic guitar, and then re-applied in similar style on an electric guitar.
Johnston and his wife Diane now live in northern Marin County, California. His daughter Lara Johnston is a singer-songwriter. She has toured both as a solo act opening for the bands KISS and Heart, and as a backing vocalist for Don Henley and Belinda Carlisle. She was a competitor on MTV’s Rock the Cradle and was a 2011 participant in American Idol. Tom Johnston’s son Christopher lives and works in Marin.