Saturday, March 15, 1975

The Doobie Brothers “Black Water” hit #1

Black Water

The Doobie Brothers

Writer(s): Patrick Simmons (see lyrics here)

Released: November 15, 1974

First Charted: December 20, 1974

Peak: 11 US, 3 CB, 11 HR, 12 RR, 38 AC, 1 CL, 11 CN, 22 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 23.6 video, 94.62 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“You can almost feel the warm breeze blowing in as the summery sounds of wind chimes lead into the acoustic guitar and fiddle during the opening of…the Doobie Brothers’ ‘Black Water.’” UCR This was a “California band’s blissed-out reverie about an imagined American South, a place where you can drift on a raft down the Mississippi River and then go to hear ‘some funky dixieland’” SG in “a world where rock ‘n’ roll has yet to exist.” SG “Like Creedence Clearwater Revival, another Bay Area rock band who dreamed about Louisiana bayous, the Doobie Brothers felt a longing for a version of Americana that they’d never actually experienced.” SG

The Doobie Brothers formed in 1970 in San Jose after “Skip Spence — former frontman of bugged-out San Francisco psych-rock weirdos Moby Grape” SG introduced his bandmate, drummer John Hartman, to guitarist Tom Johnston. The pair formed the Doobie Brothers with singer and guitarist Patrick Simmons, taking their name from “the suggestion of a roommate, who was probably making fun of them for all the weed they smoked. They hated the name, and it was only supposed to be a placeholder for the first few shows. But somehow, they never came up with anything better.” SG

The band released their fourth album, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, in 1974. It featured “Black Water,” which was never intended as a single. It was relegated to the B-side of “Another Park, Another Sunday,” which only made it to #33. “However, in an oft-repeated tale in rock history, an intrepid DJ [at a Roanoke, Virginia radio station SG] flipping the record over and playing the other side led to the song hitting the No. 1 spot” UCR more than a year after the album had been released.

“Written and sung by guitarist Patrick Simmons, ‘Black Water’ was a change up from the more rootsy rock and roll that had established the band.” UCR Simmons recorded the song solo, “playing acoustic guitar along with a primitive drum machine, and producer Ted Templeman overdubbed the rest of the band in later.” SG It “featured a subtle-but-clear country influence, and a lovely breakdown a cappella section.” UCR


First posted 7/27/2022.

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