Keith Knudsen

2003 - Individual Artist

Keith Knudsen rose to international fame from roots in his hometown of Le Mars.

Knudsen was born in that community in February of 1948. As a youngster he loved to listen to Elvis, Johnny Burnette and the Everly Brothers. He began drumming in the eighth grade and joined the junior high marching band.

His musical progress led to playing with groups doing instrumental Ventures-style music. Then in 1963 he discovered the Beatles and was changed forever!

Some of his first appearances were at games, sock hops and teen clubs. “I remember my first real paying gig was at a country bar at the age of 14,” he recalls. “During my last year of high school I played in a Blues band and really fell in love with the music of BB King, Otis Rush, Eric Clapton and Big Joe Williams.”

A change of scenery took him to San Francisco in 1969 where he played in a house band at a club called The Matrix before performing with the Blind Joe Mendlebaum Blues Band. It was during that time that he met the Doobie Brothers. “ I actually met them in the studio where we were recording demos for Warner Brothers,” Knudsen noted.

He joined up with the popular and talented Lee Michaels for two and a half years and did three albums with him.

In 1973, he met the Doobie Brothers’ manager Bruce Cohn, who told Keith the band was in need of a drummer. After a week of rehearsals, Knudsen hit the road with the band. His touring days began.

Keith was the band’s drummer until 1982 when they went on their “Farewell Tour.” During the band’s hiatus, Knudsen and fellow “Doob” John McFee formed the country rock group Southern Pacific, which went on to have numerous #1 and top 10 records. They released four albums for Warner Brothers and a subsequent Greatest Hits was released.

“In 1987, I helped organize a reunion benefiting the National Vets Foundation,” Keith said. It was that event that led to the reforming of the Doobies. Knudsen rejoined the Doobie Brothers full time in 1993. In addition to his work with them, he works on a solo album and, along with McFee, is recording and performing with Eikichi Yazawa.

For his talent and international impact on the music industry, Iowa native Keith Knudsen has been selected for the Hall of Fame Class of 2003.


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