September 1980: The Doobie Brothers Release "One Step Closer"
The 1970s had been a wild--and wildly successfully--ride for the Doobie Brothers. Launching out of San Jose, California, the band grew into one of America's most consistent hit-makers and concert draws. In the 1976, the group's appeal broadened significantly with the arrival of Michael McDonald. By 1978, the Doobie Brothers' crossover charisma was enough for the band to guest-star on two episodes of popular ABC sitcom, What's Happening!!
By 1980, however, serious burnout was affecting the superstar band. Original bandleader Tom Johnston left the fold in 1977, followed by guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and drummer John Hartman. So with a retooled lineup featuring John McFee on guitar, Keith Knudsen on drums, and Cornelius Bumpus on sax, the group hit the recording studio with producer Ted Templeman to make the follow-up to 1978 blockbuster release, Minute by Minute.
The Doobie Brothers released ninth studio album One Step Closer on September 17, 1980. The full-length was preceded in August 1980 with lead single, "Real Love." The song was an instant hit, peaking at #5 on the Hot 100 for the week of October 25, 1980. The album's title track served as the second single, making a respectable chart run to peak at #24 for the week of January 10, 1981. Third single "Keep This Train A-Rollin'", however, stalled at #62 for the week of March 7, 1981.
One Step Closer the album took a rapid ride up the Billboard 200, peaking at #3 for the week of October 25, 1980. It would be the last studio album by the Doobie Brothers to feature Michael McDonald, with the group fracturing over the course of the supporting tour. The band wouldn't make another studio LP until 1989 release, Cycles.