Michael McDonald was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on February 12, 1952. In 1975, he began performing and recording with the bands Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers. During his time with the Doobie Brothers, McDonald recorded hits including "Takin' It to the Streets" and "What a Fool Believes." He is also well known as a solo artist and a songwriter.
Michael McDonald was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on February 12, 1952. McDonald played in several bands as a high school student. In 1970, he moved to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a career in music.
Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers
McDonald initially worked as a studio musician in Los Angeles. In 1975, he joined the band Steely Dan as an in-studio adjunct member. He participated as a background singer and keyboardist on the Steely Dan albums Katy Lied, Aja, The Royal Scam and Gaucho. McDonald also toured with the band in the 1970s.
In addition to his work with Steely Dan, McDonald began playing with the Doobie Brothers in 1975. McDonald performed with the band as a temporary replacement for singer Tom Johnston. The other members of the band were so impressed with McDonald, however, that they asked him to stay on as a permanent member. During his time with the Doobie Brothers, McDonald recorded hits including "It Keeps You Runnin'," "Takin' It to the Streets" and "What a Fool Believes." The latter yielded a Grammy Award (song of the year) for McDonald and Kenny Loggins. McDonald also collaborated with contemporaries including Bonnie Raitt and Toto during this period in his career.
After the Doobie Brothers disbanded in the early 1980s, McDonald continued to perform and collaborate as a solo artist. He released his first solo album, If That's What it Takes, in 1982, and penned songs for acts as diverse as Carly Simon and Van Halen. "On My Own," a duet with Patti LaBelle, reached the top of the charts in 1986.
McDonald has enjoyed a long and successful career due to his versatility and ability to work with a wide range of artists. In 1991, he released "Ever Changing Times" with Aretha Franklin. He received two Grammy Award nominations in 2003 for an album paying tribute to the Motown sound of the 1960s and '70s. He has also continued to tour sporadically with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers.
Michael McDonald remains active as a singer, songwriter, and industry professional. In 2000, McDonald co-founded a record label, Ramp Records, with Chris Pelonis and actor Jeff Bridges. He toured with Donald Fagan and Boz Scaggs in 2010 under the name the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue. He has also performed with the electronic group Holy Ghost!, and contributed performances to the television shows 30 Rock and American Idol.
McDonald has spoken out about his recovery from alcoholism, and has performed in benefits to support recovery organizations including Alcoholics Anonymous.
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