The Doobie Brothers: “China Grove”

ALBUM: The Captain and Me

YEAR: 1973

WRITER: Tom Johnston

Peaked at number-15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

China Grove is a real town outside of San Antonio, Texas. But Tom Johnston, who wrote The Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove,” claims the town has nothing to do with why he named it that. Instead, he credits the keyboardist of Little Feat with inspiring it. “I have to give Billy Payne credit for the title of that song, although he didn’t know anything about it when he did it. He put this lick in the middle of the song that has an Oriental flavor to it [sings the lick], And that’s where I came up with ‘China Grove.’ I had never heard of ‘China Grove.’ I went on the road after that song had come out, and I found out from a cab driver that there really was a ‘China Grove.’”

Doobie Brothers singer-guitarist Tom Johnston turns 69 years old today (August 15th).


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