Blue-eyed soul veteran Michael McDonald sure likes to hang out with the rich and famous. The St. Louis, Missouri, native got his start playing keyboards and singing backing vocals for Steely Dan, including on their classic 1977 album, Aja.
When Doobie Brothers' singer Tom Johnston got sick, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees called McDonald to replace him. They liked his bellowing baritone so much, he became a permanent member of the group. In 2003, McDonald founded record label Ramp Records with the Big Lebowski himself, actor Jeff Bridges.
Over the years, McDonald has also written songs or played music with Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Loggins, Carly Simon, and many others. But according to a recent interview with Minneapolis' City Pages, McDonald said he isn't starstruck in the slightest by his big-name collaborators and finds a lot of joy in working with other big shots.
"It's a lot of fun, really; I like that kind of thing. Coming up in this business, I worked a lot as a background vocalist in the days when L.A. had a lot of different types of artists, and I always enjoyed that challenge. I enjoyed getting inside of other people's musical styles and getting to participate in the studio."
Over the past few years, McDonald has kept that communal attitude, recording in 2009 with Brooklyn indie darlings Grizzly Bear and contributing backing vocals to synth-pop band Holy Ghost! And who can forget when Warren G sampled McDonald's "I Keep Forgettin' " for the gangsta rap anthem "Regulate"? It was a high point in the history of all music.
McDonald has a diverse array of friends, but it's with old pals Toto that he'll return to South Florida. The L.A. classic rock four-piece, with whom McDonald sang backing vocals for "I'll Be Over You," will join him onstage at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood on Wednesday. You'd be a fool to believe missing this show is a good idea.
Michael McDonald with Toto. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 20, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $54 to $74 plus fees. Call 954-797-5531, or visit hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com.