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Michael McDonald (born February 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missourimarker) is a gold and platinum-selling Americanmarker R&B/soul singer and songwriter. He is sometimes described as a "blue-eyed soul" singer and sings in a distinctive "husky, soulful" yet baritone range. He is known for his work as a member of the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Goldstar, and for several hits as a solo artist.

Early Years

McDonald played in several local bands (such as Mike and the Majestics, Jerry Jay and the Sheratons, the Reeb-Toors, the Del Rays and The Guild) while attending McCluer High School in his hometown of Ferguson, Missourimarker, 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 Angelesmarker in 1970.

Steely Dan

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. McDonald 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.

Doobie Brothers

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 1978 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.

Solo Career

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' ," a duet with his sister Maureen, and "I Gotta Try," a song co-written with Kenny Loggins, who recorded it as well.

McDonald co-wrote Van Halen's Top 20 hit "I'll Wait", from their landmark 1984 album.

"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 in 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 bySteely Dan's Donald Fagen. 1991's "Ever Changing Times" with Aretha Franklin, a duet on Arista Records, had moderate success and radio play (peaking at #19 on US R&B charts). 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.

Recent Activities

In 1999, for the soundtrack album to "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut", McDonald recorded a self parodying song "Eyes Of A Child". A song that, at first, starts out like a typical McDonald ballad, then slips in a few phrases, like "If you want I can even get my friend Steve to detail your car for like 20 bucks", "Sure life is kind of gay, but it doesn't seem that way Through the Eyes of a Child", and "There's a sparkle in their eyes, we've yet to realize The bastards they really are".

In 2000, McDonald, along with partners Chris Pelonis and actor Jeff Bridges, founded the independent recording label Ramp Records. A couple years later, in 2003, McDonald received a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. In 2007, McDonald helped judge the 6th annual Independent Music Awards. The following year, in 2008, McDonald performed "America the Beautiful" at the Democratic National Convention in Denvermarker, Coloradomarker.

In 2009, McDonald, along with the West Angeles COGIC Mass Choir, released the song “Storm Before The Calm” on the compilation album Oh Happy Day. McDonald also contributed an alternate lead vocal track for "While You Wait for the Others", a single by the indie rock band Grizzly Bear, which released as a 7" single. Recently, it has also been announced that McDonald has contributed another lead vocal, this time on a track for the electronica outfit "Holy Ghost!", which is scheduled to be released on the duo's upcoming album.

Acting & Fictional Portrayals

In 2009, Michael McDonald appeared on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock as one of the benefit singers in the season finale episode "Kidney Now!"

A fictionalized version of Michael McDonald, portrayed by actor JD Ryznar, appears in the online Channel 101 video series Yacht Rock.

Personal Life

McDonald has been married to singer Amy Holland since 1983. They have two children: Scarlett and Dylan.


Band members

Bernie Chiaravalle, guitar; Vince Denham, saxophone; Lance Morrison, bass; Yvette "Baby Girl" Preyer, drums.


  1. Profile of Michael McDonald by Stephen Thomas Erlewine;
  2. – Grammy winners
  3. Steely Dan website: Tour '06 Retrieved 2008-08-16
  4. Ramp Records – homepage Retrieved 2008-08-16
  5. St. Louis Walk of Fame – Michael McDonald Retrieved 2008-08-16
  6. Independent Music Awards - 6th Annual Judges

External links

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