(born February 12
, in St. Louis, Missouri
) is an American R&B
. He is sometimes described as a "blue-eyed soul
" singer and sings in a distinctive and deceptive "husky, soulful yet tenor
" range. He is perhaps best known for his work as a member of the Doobie Brothers
, performing and recording with Steely Dan
, and for several hits as a solo artist and in collaboration with others.
McDonald played in several local bands (such as Mike and the Majestics, Jerry Jay and the Sheratons, the Reeb-Toors, and The Guild) while attending McCluer High School in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri
, now a city of some 25,000 people in St. Louis County, Missouri. McDonald was 'discovered' while playing with a group called Blue and consequently moved to Los Angeles
Michael McDonald first gained wide attention as an adjunct member of the group Steely Dan
, providing back-up vocals on tracks for 1975's Katy Lied
. He would return on subsequent Steely Dan recordings including 1976's The Royal Scam
as well as both "Peg" and "I Got the News" from the 1977 album Aja
. He also played keyboards on some Steely Dan tracks. Michael continued to do background vocals for Steely Dan up to their 1980 release, Gaucho
. He also was a member of the original Steely Dan touring band playing keyboards/piano and singing backup in the short time they toured in the early '70s.
McDonald was recruited by the band The Doobie Brothers in April 1975 when lead singer Tom Johnston became ill during a national tour. His time with the band proved so successful that they decided to retain him as a full time member.
As a member of the Doobies, he recorded some of his most well-known songs, such as "Takin' It to the Streets", "Little Darling", "It Keeps You Runnin'" "Minute by Minute" and "What a Fool Believes" (which became a number one single in the U.S. and earned him a 1980 Grammy Award for Song of the Year). At the same time he appeared as a session singer and piano player for artists like Christopher Cross, Jack Jones, Bonnie Raitt, the rock band Toto and Kenny Loggins.
After the Doobies' first farewell tour, McDonald compiled some of his earlier songs in the 1982 release That Was Then: The Early Years
which has never been issued on CD. His first solo album, If That's What It Takes,
also released in 1982, featured the hits "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)
," a duet with his sister Maureen, and "I Gotta Try," a song co-written with Kenny Loggins
, who recorded it as well.
"Yah Mo B There", a duet with James Ingram, won him the 1985 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. He followed that up with "On My Own", a duet with Patti Labelle, which reached #1 on the U.S. charts 1986.
McDonald's 1990 album Take It To Heart featured a minor hit with the title song, co-written with Diane Warren. The following year he joined the New York Rock and Soul Revue, put together by
Steely Dan's Donald Fagen. In 2003, he earned two Grammy nominations for his album Motown, a tribute to the Motown sound.
McDonald has reunited as a guest performer with the Doobies several times since their initial dissolution in 1982, and joined Steely Dan on their 2006 summer tour, both as the opening act and as part of the band.
In 2000, McDonald, along with partners Chris Pelonis and actor Jeff Bridges, founded the independent recording label Ramp Records.
In 2003, McDonald received a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
In 2008, McDonald performed "America the Beautiful" at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado at Mile High Stadium.
Bernie Chiaravalle, guitar; Vince Denham, saxophone; Lance Morrison, bass; Yvette "Baby Girl" Preyer, drums.
- SCTV did a skit parodying his collaboration with Christopher Cross in the early '80s.
In 2000 was honored by the NAMM organization and a concert was held with guests like
Christopher Cross, Patti Austin, Kenny Loggins, Jeff Bridges and others.
An edited version of the concert entitled Michael McDonald: A Gathering of Friends.
- A videotaped concert of Michael McDonald was used as a running joke in the 2005 film The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
- Beginning in 2005, an Internet-based comedy series of video shorts called "Yacht Rock" fictionalized the smooth songwriting exploits of McDonald and frequent collaborator Kenny Loggins.
- He was also parodied in the Family Guy episode "Padre De Familia".