San Jose Doobies Brothers home to become historic landmark

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A San Jose home where world famous rock band The Doobie Brothers debuted and wrote some of their greatest hits is fast becoming a landmark.

The San Jose Historic Monuments Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to recommend that city council declare the Craftsman-style home at 285 S. 12th St. a city landmark. The board will make the final call in the coming weeks.

“I think this project really hits all the bells and whistles,” Commissioner Anthony Raynsford said. “We have this amazing house with an architectural history behind it, we have the great historical connection, we have the owners who have this incredible commitment to the house, and we have the historic connection to the musical culture of the twentieth century.”

The single-story home, tucked away in the Naglee Park neighborhood, was rented by band singer and songwriter Tom Johnston from 1969 to 1973 while attending San Jose State University.

After meeting guitarist Patrick Simmons at a concert in Campbell, the duo founded the Doobie Brothers in 1970 with drummer John Hartman and bassist Dave Shogren. The classic rock band used the house for the band’s rehearsals, developing their signature sound right in the heart of downtown San Jose.

While Johnston was on 12th Street, he wrote some of the band’s best-known hits, including “Listen to the Music,” in the living room of the house. The group also released their first three studio albums during this period, including “Toulouse Street” and “The Captain and Me”.

In a 2019 interview with this news agency, Johnston reflected on his time in San Jose, calling it a “really neat place” and continuing his love for music.

“There were always people at home playing,” he said. “I was coming home from school and found guys in the basement exploding.”

The Doobie Brothers have sold over 40 million albums, becoming the most successful pure San Jose group in the city’s history.

Last year, on the group’s 50th anniversary, the Doobie Brothers became the first group from San Jose to be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame – long-awaited recognition for a group that has been eligible to be included in the most exclusive popular music club since the mid-90s.

“San Jose shaped the soundtrack of this planet in many ways… and 285 South 12th Street is home to hits that help tell a story at a unique place on this planet that produces great music,” said Dan Orloff of San Jose Rocks on Wednesday’s show. committee meeting.

The Doobie Brothers perform onstage during San Francisco Fest 2016 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif. On Sunday, September 4, 2016 (Jose Carlos Fajardo / Bay Area News Group)

The house – built in 1907 – was designed by prominent local architect Wesley Warren Hastings, who designed over 120 buildings in San Jose from 1904 to 1910. Over the years, it has remained a private residence.

Current owners John and Lauren White submitted applications in May 2021 to designate the house as a city monument and to restore and rehabilitate the house. They plan to repaint the exterior, modernize the plumbing and install a bronze plaque on the front of the house explaining its historical significance.

“Everyone who comes in is thrilled and they love the house so much, so of course we want to make it something that is visible to them,” Lauren White said of the plaque. “They are coming to take pictures, so it will be something more to commemorate him.”

The home of the Doobie Brothers is just one of the few places in San José linked to the history of American rock and roll music.

The Syndicate of South rehearsed often at bassist Bob Gonzalez’s former home at 3277 Todd Way in San Jose. Gonzalez and singer Don Baskin wrote the hit song “Little Girl” in the garage. Most of the group attended the now defunct Camden High School.

Further north, Greg Camp, songwriter and lead guitarist of Smash Mouth, rented a house at 147 S. Morrison Ave. while playing with various groups in the city. He eventually teamed up with other San José musicians and formed the rock band Smash Mouth. While living in the St. Leo neighborhood of San Jose, Camp composed the band’s song “Heave Ho” about an annoying former neighbor on his street.


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