Saturday, April 14, 1979

Doobie Brothers “What a Fool Believes” hit #1

What a Fool Believes

The Doobie Brothers

Writer(s): Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald (see lyrics here)

First Charted: January 20, 1979

Peak: 11 US, 12 CB, 12 GR, 113 RR, 22 AC, 1 CL, 31 UK, 11 CN, 12 AU, 4 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 64.23 video, 200.73 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Doobie Brothers formed in 1970 in San Jose, California. From 1971 to 1975, they released five albums with Tom Johnston as the lead singer. Three of the albums reached the top 10 and three achieved platinum status. However, with Johnston facing health problems, the band brought in Michael McDonald as the new lead singer. He’d worked together with guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter as a session musician with Steely Dan.

McDonald “had serious piano chops and a big, burly voice.” SG He brought a “slicker R&B” FB which made for a “fusion of pillowy LA soft-rock and studio-slick blue-eyed soul.” SG The 1976 album Takin’ It to the Streets suggested the new sound didn’t alienate fans. It was another top-10, platinum seller which produced two top-40 hits. The next album, Livin’ on the Fault Line, reached the top 10, but failed to generate any top-40 hits. It looked like the band might have peaked.

However, their 1978 album Minute by Minute was a triple-platinum, chart-topping success thanks largely to the success of the #1 hit “What a Fool Believes.” Not only was it “stylistically unlike any song the Doobie Brothers had done before,” WK it was also one of the few non-disco songs to reach the pinnacle of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. WK It is now “considered a foundational yacht rock classic,” SG although that wasn’t a genre tag until decades later.

The song tells the story “of a many who is reunited with an old love interest and attempts to rekindle a romantic relationship with her before discovering that one never really existed.” WK McDonald had started the song, but didn’t finish it until getting together with Kenny Loggins. The two had never met before, but Loggins wanted to work with McDonald. When Loggins heard the unfinished song at McDonald’s house, he knew where it should go and the pair finished the lyrics over the phone that night. SG

Loggins released the song on his second solo album, 1978’s Nightwatch. Loggins had previously recorded with Jim Messina as a duo. They got to #4 in 1972 with “Your Mama Don’t Dance.” As a solo artist, he had more than a dozen top-40 hits, including “Whenever I Call You Friend” (#5, 1978), also from Nightwatch, and “This Is It,” a #11 hit from 1979 which was also co-written by McDonald and Loggins.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Doobie Brothers
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Kenny Loggins
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 500.
  • SG Stereogum (1/27/2020). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 12/6/2022.

No comments:

Post a Comment