Michael McDonald Returns To The Doobie Brothers For New Country Set
Michael McDonald is rejoining his former Doobie Brothers bandmates for their upcoming country collection. The still-untitled set being readied for Sony features the band's former keyboardist returning to the fold for a collaborative covers album featuring the Doobies' greatest hits recorded with a clutch of contemporary country stars. Among the names already on board for the project are Brad Paisley, Chris Young, Zac Brown Band, Love And Theft, Toby Keith, and Sara Evans. No release date for the Doobies' "duets" album has been announced.
Doobies leader and guitarist Tom Johnston denied the longstanding rumor that there's bad blood between the band and McDonald, telling Billboard, "It amazes me how long that has hung around because it have never been the case, ever. A lot of people wanted that to be the case because of the two different styles of music, but it never was. I always got along really well with Michael and vice versa."
Johnston went on to add: "We don't see each other a lot because he's on the road a lot too. We always look forward to catching up and seeing how the families are doing and all that kind of stuff. Michael is a great guy. He's always fun to hang with."
Doobies co-founder Pat Simmons told us that upon his joining in 1975, it was pretty much a no-brainer to the band and producer Ted Templeman that McDonald's keyboards, songs, and voice should become the driving force for the Doobies in the second half of the '70s: "I think we just recognized it and we pushed him forward and, y'know, made it happen. And in a way it happened of its own volition, because he's a great talent. But, he's kind of a reluctant guy in some ways, early. . . he was in those days, anyway. And then the producer really recognized Mike had the talent there and so, I think it just happened just because it was self-evident, really." Ted Templeman called me up and said, 'Hey, these guys have a track and they need some lyrics, so I mentioned you could do it and they said fine, so why don’t you come down?' He sent me the track, and I got some ideas going so I’d have something when I got to the studio."
He recalled how the actual collaboration began, explaining: "I met David Lee Roth at Ted's office. That was, uh, an interesting experience. He kinda liked what I had going, so we sat there in the office with the demo playing on a cassette recorder, singing lines and melodies."
McDonald went on to joke: "I guess they thought I was Santa Claus, because I had to go chasing them a little bit on that one. It’s probably one of the most-played things I’ve ever written, just because it’s Van Halen. That album sold three or four million copies right away, which was a really big deal at the time."
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