Classics: Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin’ (Warner Bros.)
And here we go with a crossover artist in the most noble sense of the term. A baritone singer, Michael McDonald has embraced amost everything. With thanks to a one of a kind voice that made him to reach high registers. From Californian Rock, as a member of The Doobie Brothers… Remember ‘Long Train Running’ or ‘What A Fool Believes’. To Soul/Jazz along with Steely Dan or smoother territories sharing the duties with Patti LaBelle on the vibrant ‘On My Own’. Not to mention groovier ones along with James Ingram on the Quincy Jones produced ‘Yah Mo B There’.
With The Doobie Brothers disbanding back in 1982, McDonald went his way as a solo artist. Eventually delivering his debut-album – ‘If That’s What It Takes’ the same year. And, in the meantime, comin’ up with the seminal ‘I Keep Forgettin’. A cool swingalong served by beautiful lyrics. But also an impeccable production work courtesy of Lenny Waronker and Ted Templeman. This with the presence of some of the most sought after musicians at the time. From the late Louis E. Johnson of the Brothers Johnson fame on bass. To Greg Phillinganes on clavinet. This in addition Jeff Porcaro (Toto) on drums, with Jerry Hey responsible for the horn arrangements.
The bittersweet ‘I Keep Forgetting (Everytime You’re Near)’ would generate quite an impact years after its release. With G-Funk famous Warren G sampling it 12 years later on the memorable ‘Regulate’. But also Moloko on an unreleased acoustic version of ‘Familiar Feeling’, with singer Róisín Murphy reachin’ one of her absolute peaks.
A St. Louis, MO native Michael McDonald attended the McCluer High School. There, he started playing with a bunch of local bands before movin’ to L.A., CA to set up his musical career.
By 1974, McDonald joined Steely Dan‘s touring band. Providing lead and backing vocals, he appeared on various recordings of the band. From ‘Katy Lied’ to ‘The Royal Scam’ and ‘Aja’ in the mid-70’s. Then ‘Gaucho’ in 1980. Eventually playing keyboards as well. Meanwhile The Doobie Brothers recruited him to temporarily replace a then sick Tom Johnson who was their lead singer. This would mark the start of a fruitful collaboration. With the man soon after becoming a permanent member of the group, contributing to some of their most memorable recordings. From ‘Long Train Running’ to ‘What A Fool Believes’ to name but a few. But also working as a session vocalist/keyboardist for countless artists around. Beginning with Kenny Loggins (‘This Is It’), but also Toto, Aretha Franklin and The Winans. Eventually sharing the duties with Patti LaBelle on the vibrant ‘On My Own’ back in 1986.
McDonald opened his account as a solo artist, releasing ‘If That’s What It Takes’ in 1982. An album which features the vibrant ‘I Keep Forgettin (Every Time You’re Near)’. With Warren G and Moloko usin’ parts of it, respectively on ‘Regulate’ and an acoustic version of ‘Familiar Feeling’. Meanwhile, ‘Yah Mo B There’, a duet with James Ingram, won the 27th Annual Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. This with production work by the likes of Quincy Jones.
Among his best recordings ever, ‘Sweet Freedom’ which appeared on the soundtrack to the Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines film ‘Running Scared’ back in 1986. But also his outstanding cover version of Marvin Gaye‘s ‘I Want You’. A song which he recorded as a part of his 1993 ‘Blink Of An Eye’ album. Although it never saw the light as a single for some reason.
McDonald has released a total of 9 albums to date. With his latest – ‘Wide Open’ – back in 2017. And he totalizes 5 Grammy Awards.