By 1978, The Doobie Brothers were in a quandary. The band's previous LP, Livin' on a Fault Line, was one of their very few that failed to produce even a single Top 40 hit. The group's longtime leader, Tom Johnston, had to bow out of making the follow-up record, due to increasing health issues. That put one of The Doobie Brothers' newest members, Michael McDonald, square in the hot seat.
Getting together with songwriting partner, Kenny Loggins, McDonald cranked out a new song for the band's next record. That tune turned out to be the title track, "Minute by Minute." From there, the rest was history. The Doobie Brothers released the Minute by Minute album on December 1, 1978. The album flew up the Billboard charts, peaking at #1 for two weeks in April 1979. When the dust settled at the end of the year, the record hit the top spot five times in non-consecutive weeks.
One bonus from the band's broadening fan base: according to bass player Tiran Porter, a marked increase of black people at their concerts. “They were going, ‘Hey, who’s this white guy who sounds black?’” he told Rolling Stone. “A lot more of my people started showing up. I was like, ‘Yeah!””
The lead single from the LP, "What a Fool Believes," also charged up the charts, peaking at #1 on the Hot 100 for the week of April 14, 1979.
The album's title track served as the second single from the set, climbing as high as #14 over the week of June 23, 1979.
"Dependin' on You," featuring guitarist Patrick Simmons on lead vocals, crashed the top 30 to hit #25 in October 1979. The track also boasted Nicolette Larson on background vocals.
The Doobie Brothers and Minute by Minute were the toast of the 22nd annual Grammys in 1980. The album took the prize for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, and was even nominated for Album of the Year. "What a Fool Believes" walked away with Record of the Year and Song of the Year.