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The Doobie Brothers are playing on the Gulf Coast with a special dedication to New Orleans

Patrick Simmons wrote "Black Water" about New Orleans in 1974.
Patrick Simmons wrote "Black Water" about New Orleans in 1974. Courtesy The Doobie Brothers

Patrick Simmons loves New Orleans.

"If I'm not at home in Hawaii or on the road, I'm in New Orleans," Simmons said in an interview with the Sun Herald.

Heis one of the founding members of The Doobie Brothers, who return to New Orleans on Tuesday for a show on the Summer of Living Dangerously tour with Steely Dan. Tickets for the Smoothie King Center show can be found at Ticketmaster.com.

The two bands have a long history with guitarist Jeff "Skunk Baxter" leaving Steely Dan in the mid-1970s to take a gig with the Doobies. Michael McDonald, who sang background vocals on many Steely Dan songs including "Peg," joined The Doobies after founding member Tom Johnston left the band due to health reasons.

"We've known the guys in Steely Dan for decades," Simmons said. "We've toured with them many times, especially in the 70s."

But the summer tour is Steely Dan's first tour since founding member Walter Becker died earlier this year.

"I've known Walter for a long time — we were friends," Simmons said.

When the Doobies hit the Smoothie King Center, the band will also be bringing one of the most successful tributes to New Orleans.

Simmons wrote "Black Water" for the 1974 Ted Templeman-produced album "What Once Were Vices Are Now Habits." The song features Simmons on lead vocals. It mixes the imagery of Mark Twain and New Orleans and became the band's first No. 1 hit in 1975.

"I was fooling around with this open tuning thing in the studio and I started writing some lyrics about New Orleans," he said. "I was spending a lot of time there. The lyrics 'If it rains I don't care, don't make no difference to me, just take that street car that's going Uptown' is a true story — as is 'I want to hear some funky Dixieland' because there was a lot of Dixieland bands playing in the French Quarter and it's gotten back to that because there was lot of pop and country being played in the Quarter for a while."

The song also played a key role in a 1978 episode of the popular sitcom "What's Happening!!." The band was performing the song when Rerun (Fred Berry) and his friends were caught recording a bootleg of the concert.

"We had a great time doing that show," Simmons said. "It was an important black show at the time and we were proud to be a part of it and we were friends with Fred Berry and Shirley Hemphill — it was a lot of fun. And one day when The Doobies are no more, people are still going to remember when we were on 'What's Happening!!."

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Patrick Simmons wrote "Black Water" about New Orleans in 1974. Courtesy The Doobie Brothers

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