Doobie Brothers Drummer Michael Hossack Dies
03/13/2012 AT 03:00 PM EDT
The rock musician had battled cancer and was surrounded by his family at the time he succumbed, reports his local paper, the Lake County News.
Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Hossack, who once had ambitions to become a law-enforcement officer, began playing the drums at age 12, according to the Doobie Brothers website. In a brief statement on the site, his bandmates said, "Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and loved ones. We will miss him greatly."
As PEOPLE reported in 1979, The Doobies began as a trio in San Jose, Calif., in 1970 with Tommy Johnston on guitar, John Hartman on drums and bassist Greg Murphy. Then came vocalist-guitarist Patrick Simmons, bassist Tiran Porter and drummer Knudsen (the band generally toured with three percussionists).
Besides Hossack, the band currently includes Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, John McFee, John Cowan, Guy Allison, Marc Russo, Tony Pia and Ed Toth.
Hossack joined in 1971 and played for two years before leaving to aid fellow Vietnam vets in a variety of charitable activities. He then returned to the band in 1987 and continued for the next 23 years, until ill health forced him to withdraw.
In July 2010, Hossack thanked fans for their support, posting, "It certainly helps to keep my spirits up during my time away."
The Doobie Brothers have sold 40 million records. Among the hits to which Hossack contributed, according to Rolling Stone, were "Jesus Is Just Alright," "Listen to the Music" and "China Grove."