(From the vault) The Doobie Brothers - Rock Gods and Biker Icons
It’s 2pm Friday and the phone rings, on the other end is a Rock Legend and Biker - Pat Simmons of The Doobie Brothers. The Doobie Brothers are one of the biggest bands of all time - if you don’t know them by name, I guarantee you’d know their music. The Doobie Brothers songs have saturated the airwaves and television for decades, hits like China Grove, Takin’ it to the Streets and Listen to the Music and my favourite, Black Water to name just a few. He rang to tell me he spoke to his wife, the beautiful Cris (a biking legend in her own right) about having an interview with our magazine. He said he was only too happy to oblige, they were playing at the Big Top Luna Park Sydney that night and there were two tickets with my name on them - who was I to say no.
Because this is a bike mag and the story, a bike story I found it only fitting to ride to the interview, even if the forecast was rain and hail - the forecast had to be right for once! I had only two tickets and four mates, this presented a challenge, it took us back to our teens and pub rock days waiting for security to drop their guard and charging in (only because the concert was a sell-out and there wasn’t any tickets left!). When we arrived there was only the corso in front of Luna Park’s face to park, and this wouldn’t do, so we rode our bikes under Luna’s smile and parked the bikes in the kids bike racks. From the time we arrived there was a steady flow of people coming through the gates, the difference tonight was The Doobies were playing and crowds were mainly made up of concert goers and the ages of patrons spanned all ages imaginable. The courtyard and foyer of The Big Top were buzzing, the atmosphere high on anticipation. For those of you yet to see The Big Top, the venue is located in the middle of the park, approximately where the legendary Ghost Train stood - it resembles a big-top circus tent. The inside is mid-sized making the gig more intimate than larger venues. The beauty with this joint, there’s a sign on the doors that says alcohol allowed and available inside the concert, on the proviso any bottles be emptied into the plastic glasses provided. The perfect scenario for us responsible drinkers!
First on stage “Chain” an Aussie band from West Oz who like to call their style Blues, only with a difference, their name for their style is “Oz Blues” and who are we to argue, anything with a name beginning with Oz must be good. The boys finished their set around 8.30pm. It’s time for a beer!
As per programme at 9.00pm the lights dim, the speakers start to hum and gurgle with the concerto sounds of one Harley then another and yet another. The sound of the bikes rattling ear drums hyped the crowd, making way for the band’s entrance. The sound was reminiscent of our trip through Sydney’s freeway tunnels on our way to the gig.
It doesn’t take long for the crowd to be whipped into a frenzy, people dancing in the aisles, crowding the stage and one bloke doing the token run up on stage. The Doobies took everything in their stride just enjoying the euphoria, with Pat jumping from the stage running through the crowd whilst playing guitar, he high-fived yours truly when he notice the OzBike t-shirt (only the cool dudes were wearing them). The gig featured a taste of Down Under with didgeridoo and the haka. Whilst here Pat Simmons Jnr participated in some didgeridoo lessons at Manly, later giving the boys a sample of his newly acquired talent. The finale featured the members families on stage with them, Pat Jnr was there cutting a mean chord with his dad Pat, Tom Johnston’s kids on backup vocals. After the gig we were lucky enough to meet the Doobies back stage. The name “Doobie” is actually a slang word used to describe a Marijuana joint, so you’d expect to see some hooch! Not here, it was a bunch of family men kicking back and chilling out with their families. It is here we catch up to Pat Simmons the subject of our story and one of the coolest dudes you’re ever going to meet - Pat embellishes all that is Biker and Rock God. Pat resides in Maui, Hawaii and it’s fitting for this bloke to live in one of the coolest places on the planet. Pat has a real hang loose, laid back character, but at the same time it’s easy to imagine this bloke cutting up the hinterland of Maui looking like a David Mann portrait on his Road-King or the beloved ’90 model FLH. Pat’s riding partners are nothing less than royalty, hey does it get better than this line up - Willy G Davidson (Harley Davidson), Jay Leno (Comic) and Ben “Light horse” Campbell (American Senator, Dakota) just to list a few.
To quote another saying, behind every great man there’s a great woman – Pat’s one of those rare blokes who can say they have a common interest with their wives! In this case Motorcycles, in particular Harley Davidsons. Pat’s beautiful wife, Cris founded Harley Women Magazine, the first Harley Davidson and possibly only motorcycle magazine for women. It was this magazine that brought these two together. Pat and Cris met in Sturgis in ’89, Pat was doing a gig in the Railway Inn with The Doobies and Cris was in town for her magazine. The story goes, the pair met at a Doobies press conference, and Cris only rocked up for the free feed, and walked away with the main man.
May I say if ever the Doobies are in your town, they’re a must see for any age!
Our thanks go out to Ed (Tour Manager) and The Doobie Brothers with special thanks going to Pat and Cris for their valuable time and hospitality.