February 8, 2005- Keith Knudsen was born in Le Mars, Iowa on February 18th 1948. He began drumming while in high school. After short stints playing in a club band and the Blind Joe Mendlebaum Blues Band, he became the drummer for the organist-vocalist Lee Michaels.
In 1974 he was invited to join The Doobie Brothers, joining the band during the recording of the 1974 platinum album, ‘What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits‘, on which he made his debut. After the Doobies disbanded in ’82, he and fellow Doobie John McFee, who he had also formed a writing partnership with, founded the country rock band Southern Pacific. The group was successful in the country charts but disbanded in the early 1990s. By then the two men had formed a writing partnership and despite not rejoining the group at that time, co-wrote the song Time Is Here And Gone with Doobies’ percussionist Bobby LaKind, featured on the Doobies reunion album Cycles in 1989.
Keith had organized a one-off Doobies reunion in 1987 to raise funds for the National Veterans Foundation and rejoined the Doobie Brothers on a full-time basis in 1993.
Ironically, Knudsen found himself drumming alongside Michael Hossack, whom he had replaced all those years ago. Of the multiple pairings of Doobie Brothers drummers over the decades, Knudsen’s time-keeping partnership with Hossack lasted the longest.
Knudsen, lived in California’s Sonoma County’s wine country, when he had cancer in 1995. It is said that it left him weak and he never fully regained all his strength in spite of the fact that he featured prominently as a songwriter on the album Sibling Rivalry (2000), which was, at the time, only the band’s third studio album since reuniting. The album features two lead vocals by Knudsen. Much earlier, and sounding very different, Knudsen lead vocals can also be heard on the Farewell Tour album and video. He also featured on the albums Rockin’ Down the Highway: The Wildlife Concert (1996), and Live at Wolf Trap (2004).
In 2005 he also played drums on Emmylou Harris ‘Shores Of White Sand’ off the All I Intend To Be’ record.
Knudsen died on February 8, 2005 from Pneumonia at age 56.
At the time Knudsen was the fourth member of the Doobies to pass away, joining percussionist Bobby LaKind, bassist Dave Shogren and saxophonist Cornelius Bumpus.