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Michael McDonald Biography

Home > Music > M > McDonald, Michael > Biography

Born: 1952/02/12
Birth Place: St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Years Active: 1971–present
Genres: Soft Rock, Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B, Soul

Michael McDonald was born on February 12, 1952 in St. Louis, Missouri, and is a five-time Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter. McDonald was drawn to music from an early age and by the time he was a teenager he was singing in local bands. One of the groups he sang with was called Blue, which gained him some attention from local music industry reps. As a result McDonald decided to move to Los Angeles in 1970 in an effort to pursue a music career. Shortly afterwards, McDonald began his professional career singing back-up vocals with Steely Dan, he then went on to become a member of The Doobie Brothers from 1976 to 1981, when lead singer Tom Johnston became ill during a national tour.

In addition to his commitment with The Doobie Brothers, McDonald worked as session singer and piano player for Christopher Cross, Stephen Bishop, Jack Jones, Bonnie Raitt, and Kenny Loggins, all the while building a reputation for himself as a versatile musician. After McDonald parted ways with The Doobie Brothers, he released his solo debut, “If That's What It Takes” in 1982, which featured the hits “I Keep Forgettin',” a duet with his sisters Kathy and Maureen, and a song co-written with Kenny Loggins, “I Gotta Try.”

McDonald also worked with other artist around this time and co-wrote with Carly Simon Van Halen's hit single, “I'll Wait,” from their 1984 album, “You Belong to Me” and a duet with James Ingram, “Yah Mo B There,” which earned them both a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals' McDonald followed up with the international smash hit, “On My Own” with Patti LaBelle, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Charts.

A decade later, still making music, McDonald's 1990 “Take It to Heart” album produced a minor hit with the title song, which was co-written with Diane Warren. McDonald followed up with his 1991 hit, “Ever Changing Times” with Aretha Franklin, peaking at #19 on Billboard's R&B chart.

The beginning of the 2000s was marked by McDonald and his partners Chris Pelonis and actor Jeff Bridges, starting an independent record label, Ramp Records. 2003 began with McDonald earning two Grammy Award nominations for his album, “Motown,” as he continued to record and release new music throughout the decade. 2006 saw McDonald embark on a tour with The Doobie Brothers once more as a guest musician.

In 2010, McDonald released, “The Voice of Michael McDonald,” a compilation album of The Doobie Brothers and Michael McDonald hits, which also included duets with various artists. That same year, McDonald embarked on a tour with Donald Fagen and Boz Scaggs, billed as The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue. Their show encompassed classic rock, soul, R&B, and songs by various artists, including themselves.