The Voice Of The Doobies
The first time he heard his voice on the radio, Michael McDonald was just 16 years old. A small R&B station in his hometown St. Louis played his cover of a Burt Bacharach song, “Always Something There to Remind Me.”
“It was such a thrill,” said the man whose soulful voice would later dominate the airwaves as the signature sound of The Doobie Brothers. That moment in 1968 was just a small blip in the radio universe, but for a few minutes at least, McDonald was on top of the world.
It would happen again – and in a much bigger way — nearly a decade later.
McDonald had traded St. Louis for Los Angeles and did time as a session musician before joining the band Steely Dan. After four albums, during which he sang background vocals on FM staples like “Black Friday” and “Peg,” he joined the The Doobie Brothers, then known for its funky R & B sound.
During some downtime in the studio, the band was looking for some new material to play.
“I’d had a few ideas running around,” McDonald said. He played a couple of songs he’d been tinkering with for some time, and “they seemed very open to them.” They produced a demo and “Takin’ It To The Streets” became the title track to an album that also produced the top-40 hit “It Keeps You Runnin’,” which McDonald co-wrote with Carly Simon.
“For me, the first time I thought, ‘Wow, this is really happening,’ was when I saw the ‘Takin’ It To The Streets’ billboard,” he said. “I’m sitting in a car in downtown Los Angeles, and there it was.”
McDonald’s voice became the group’s signature sound and the hits followed. During his time with The Doobies, McDonald recorded some of his best-known songs, including “Minute by Minute,” “It Keeps You Runnin’,” and “What A Fool Believes.”
After the 1982 breakup of the band, McDonald launched a solo career that produced hits like “I Keep Forgettin’,” “On My Own,” a duet with Patti LaBelle, and the Grammy-winning duet with James Ingram “Yah Mo B There.”
With a five-Grammy career that includes a pair of Christmas albums, audiences can expect a little of both when the current “This Christmas,” an evening of holiday and hits, tour stops at The Paramount on Wednesday, Dec. 4. Tickets range from $49.50 to $99.50 and are available at the box office, 370 New York Ave., Huntington, or go to paramountny.com.