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 50 years, in several styles. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Doobie Brothers in 2020.
Johnston joined The Doobie Brothers when they reunited for a brief tour in 1987. This event led to the permanent reformation of the band, with Johnston again performing alongside co-founder Simmons. Johnston co-wrote, sang and contributed a signature guitar solo to the group’s last major chart hit, “The Doctor” (from 1989’s Cycles). This was followed by the album Brotherhood in 1991 which featured four songs by Johnston, and Sibling Rivalry in 2000 featuring the single “People Gotta Love Again”. The Doobies’ most recent album, 2010’s World Gone Crazy, features 13 songs, eight of which were written by Johnston including the album’s title track and the first single “Nobody”, a rerecording of the band’s first single in 1971.
With Pat Simmons, Johnston wrote Long Train Runnin’: Our Story of The Doobie Brothers (2022).
After leaving the Doobie Brothers permanently, (at least at the time), in 1977. founding member Tom Johnston took a couple of years to continue recuperating from the health issues that derailed his work with the band, & in 1979 released his first solo album “Everything You’ve Heard Is True”. The album, produced by long time Doobies producer Ted Templeman is a mix of the late 70s laid back “LA Sound” so prevalent then, a bit of the then popular disco rhythms, & Tom’s R&B roots & instantly recognizable “chunka-chunka” guitar style that propelled & identified so many Doobies songs.
Tom was backed by some serious LA session musicians; Jim Keltner, Bob Glaub, Paul Stallworth & David Garibaldi, along with Little Feat’s Paul Barrere & Bill Payne, (the latter had of course played keyboards on many Doobies songs), the Tower Of Power horn section & the Memphis Horns, (whom had also recorded & toured with the Doobies), plus former Doobie bandmates Michael McDonald & Keith Knudsen.
So with this all star lineup backing him, what did we get? A very good album, with a mix of songs that could have easily fit on a Doobies album, (& since Tom wrote & he & the Doobies recorded five songs for their “Livin’ On The Fault Line” before Tom had them taken off the album & left the band, it’s very possible some are on this album), & some cases of Tom stretching out a bit. “Small Time Talk” is the most Doobie sounding song on the album, with a guitar line much like “Listen To The Music” or “Eyes Of Silver”, but with a different group of musicians behind Tom, it sounds more like somebody copying the Doobies sound, & that’s not putting it down. “Savannah Nights” was the big hit from this album, peaking at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, & garnering a good bit of airplay. It’s a definite mix of Tom’s R&B roots with a funk/disco rhythm. Tom also does a nice cover of Joe Tex’s southern soul classic “Show Me”, & continues the “Tom Johnston era Doobies sound” with “Down Along The River” The rest of the album is very solid, & Tom’s in fine voice & wrote some solid songs for his solo debut. Ted Templeman’s production gives the album just the right pop sheen, without getting as slick as on “Minute By Minute”.
This easily gets a four star rating, losing a single star due to the slightly anonymous backing of what are obviously session musicians, which detracts a bit from the album, since it lacks the feel of an actual band with him. Ctsy AllMusic.com Mark Moore
1 Down Along the River 3:49
2 Show Me 2:56
3 Savannah Nights 4:04
4 I Can Count on You 2:43
5 Small Talk Time 3:54
6 Reachin’ out for Lovin’ from You 4:13
7 Outlaw 3:32
8 Man on the Stage 3:56