Ralph MacDonald, 1944-2011


“I don’t want to be a superstar. Above all, I’m a musician first.”
 — Ralph MacDonald was not a superstar. I didn’t know his name (despite reading it on lots of liner notes that I apparently quickly forgot), but everyone knows his music, that’s for sure. From the songs he wrote, like Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s “Where Is the Love?” and Grover Washington and Bill Withers’ “Just the Two of Us,” to the percussion he played on ones like Paul Simon’s “Late In the Evening” or David Bowie’s “Young Americans” — his discography is jaw-dropping. He played such an important role in so many important songs. Man, the things you don’t know ’til someone dies. MacDonald was 67.