Ralph McDonald, who had the track Calypso Breakdown on Saturday Night Fever, has died at 67.
McDonald, famous for writing songs like Where is the Love and Just the Two of Us and a member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, passed away early Sunday in Stamford, CT after a long illness. He was 67.
His website had the following message:
In Memoriam: Ralph MacDonald
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Ralph MacDonald on the morning of December 18, 2011. He will be greatly missed.
McDonald was born in Harlem and got his professional start playing in his father’s calypso band. The experience led to ten-years as a percussionist with Harry Belafonte starting in 1961
At 27, McDonald and two partners started a publishing company (Antisia Music) who had their first big hit with Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway’s Where is the Love, which was written by McDonald and Bill Salter.
McDonald also began to take on studio work for a wide variety of artists such as the Brecker Brother, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Paul Desmond, Steely Dan, Carole King and Grover Washington, Jr. In the middle of the next decade, he also started recording his own material, producing a number of albums over the balance of his life.
In late-1977, McDonald had his recording of a 60′s composition, Calypso Breakdown, on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, for which he won Grammy’s for his performance and production.
At the dawn of the 80′s, McDonald once again hit it big as a songwriter and Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Wither’s Just the Two of Us, a single off Washington’s Winelight album which Ralph also produced.
Along with continuing to write, produce and record, McDonald became a regular member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band starting in the late-90′s. Buffett’s Margaritaville site posted the following for McDonald:
Margaritaville mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Grammy-award winning percussionist, songwriter, producer and long time Coral Reefer band member Ralph MacDonald, who passed on early this morning. He will be greatly missed.
As the son of Trinidad-immigrant and Calypso performer “Macbeth The Great,” Ralph was born in Harlem, NY in 1944 and grew up amidst the rise of Calypsonian revolution in New York City. The young boy was often placed playfully on his father’s drums for a moment or two and, when he got older, MacDonald dreamed of someday achieving the regional success of his father.
Ralph indeed went on to achieve not only regional success, but an outstanding international career. He spent his life working with legends such as Harry Belafonte, Roberta Flack, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Bette Middler, Diana Ross, Paul Simon and of course Jimmy Buffett, earning Grammy awards as both a performer and a producer along the way. His songwriting success came in the form of chart topping hits such as “Just The Two Of Us,” “Where Is The Love,” “Calypso Breakdown” and others.