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Patrick Simmons of The Doobie Brothers speaks from the heart

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Patrick Simmons, or "Pat" as Tom Johnston calls him, is the only member of The Doobie Brothers to stay with the band from the beginning through the present, never exiting the group that began four decades ago. And he still looks pretty much like he did when the musical group began, with the exception of the touches of gray in his hair, of course. But this rocker had a reason for remaining behind when others left, and he shared it on July 14 with the Atlanta Pop Culture Examiner, among other things.

Referred to on your band's website as "the driving force behind the Doobie Brothers" share with your fans what motivated you to stay with the band when others chose to leave.

I know we've always had incredible writers, singers, and players, even with all the many personnel changes. This is really the reason I always stuck around, just to see what we might come up with next. I've never been disappointed. The music keeps flowing, the songs are always interesting, and we do have a lot of fun.

I feel like I've gotten to be a better player through the years, part of this has been because I remain engaged, and continued to challenge myself. We've been so lucky, people keep coming to see us, and have been so supportive. As long as folks keep coming out, I'll probably still be here.

Who's idea was it to do a Doobie Brothers version of "Jesus is Just Alright" back in the day?

Jesus was a song that we had played live for a couple of years before we decided to record it. We borrowed the song from an old Byrds album that featured the late great Clarence White. We put a little more of a gospel twist to the arrangement, the original being a little more country, as I remember.

And did you think it was going to be such a hit for the group back then as it became?

I don't think we ever visualized it as a top 40 record, and I was frankly surprised, and happy at the attention that the song generated. It's a fun song to play, and the blues breakdown bridge in the middle gave us a chance to jam the blues a little.

And did any of the band members profess Christianity at that time?

I think all of us came from Christian backgrounds, but for myself I know I've come to embrace a larger view of spirituality to include other compassionate beliefs that honor the principles I always held to be sacred.

Since your love of music began at such an early age, did you seek to mentor your own children musically at an early age?

All my kids played music at an early age, and my two boys still play. My son Josh loves synthesizers, and sort of trance dance music. And my son Pat. Jr. is more of a singer-songwriter guy, and a hell of a guitar, and ukulele player. My daughter had the talent, but went on to other things. I never forced them to play, but always encouraged them to embrace the craft if they felt the calling.

Playing an instrument is something that a person can carry with them throughout their life. It's like a meditation, and helps you to step outside yourself, and experience life in a non-conceptual way. With your guitar, you will never be lonely. It's always there for you, and you can channel your emotions in a constructive way. I'm gettin a little deep here...I better say so long, until another time.

Pat's interview includes more questions and answers, but since he took a break, we will too, coming back to him and what he had to say about the new Sony album being released by the band in the fall. But for now all you need to know is that he, Tom Johnston and John McFee, along with the rest of their 8-man band will be at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park on July 17 in Alpharetta this week, along with Peter Frampton and Matthew Curry. And tickets are still on sale if you have not gotten yours. And since this is the only show the group will do in 2014 in Georgia, you better get your ticket today.

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