Fans still ask Doobie Brother, ‘What’s happening?’

Fans still ask Doobie Brother, ‘What’s happening?’


Here’s how it works when I interview a well-known performer: Instead of complimenting him or her on their big, career-making endeavor, I’ll mention something less consequential from their body of work.

That was the case Thursday afternoon, when I met Doobie Brothers guitarist Patrick Simmons at the Chief Blackhawk Antique Motorcycle Swap Meet at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport.

I didn’t mention any of the band’s hits, but did toss out the title “So Wrong” — his only solo single that barely cracked the top 20, in 1983.

He smiled and nodded.

But there was another left field question I wanted to ask.

Spurred by an online list of the worst musical appearances on a TV show, where the Doobies were No. 1, I asked him about the band’s 1978 appearance on the sitcom “What’s Happening!” — a two-parter to boot.

“The thing we’ll always be remembered for, probably,” Simmons answered, his tongue firmly in cheek. “After the music, they’ll always remember us from ‘What’s Happening!’ ”

In the episode, the Doobs are back at their “old school” for a concert. The character Rerun is forced into secretly taping the concert by a bootlegger.

“It was just a lot of fun,” Simmons said. “We got to know the people from the TV show and enjoyed the whole experience of a situation comedy.”

But it gave them a line from Rerun, trying to identify the band members, that will live on: “Which Doobie you be?”

Simmons wife, Cristine, chimed in: “That was a very popular show. They’re making fun of it, but I think everybody loved it.”

An online listmaker’s deciding factor in making the Doobies No. 1 was that they were on a show with an entirely black cast.

“Our bass player (Tiran Porter) was African-American,” Simmons said. “We were the token white guys.”

Getting it Straight

It caused some confusion not long ago when two groups, both named Straight No Chaser, played in the Quad-Cities.

The Indiana University version of the a capella men’s chorus was at the Quad-Cities Convention Center in Bettendorf during April, and the professional version, all alumni of the Indiana group, were onstage at the Adler Theatre, also in April.

The confusion will stop now. The student group has changed its name to Another Round.

David Burke can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter, @Entguy1.


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