Sail On, Ralph MacDonald (1944-2011)

Long time Coral Reefer and well know song writer, producer, publisher, and percussionist Ralph MacDonald passed away December 18, 2011.

Ralph MacDonald, a highly regarded session musician and songwriter who co-wrote hits including “Where Is the Love?” and “Just the Two of Us,” died on Sunday of lung cancer in Stamford, Connecticut. He was 67.

Born in New York City to a musical father from Trinidad, MacDonald learned to play steelpan percussion at an early age and performed with Harry Belafonte’s band for a decade before striking out on his own. MacDonald’s distinctive Afro-Caribbean percussion flavored dozens of popular songs, including David Bowie‘s “Young Americans” and Jimmy Buffett‘s “Margaritaville.” Over the years, MacDonald worked with a wide range of artists, from Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and Aretha Franklin to Luther Vandross and Amy Winehouse.

MacDonald earned two Grammy Awards in 1978 as a producer and performer on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, for which he contributed the track “Calypso Breakdown.” “My approach is to work with melody by simply enhancing it,” MacDonald told The New York Times in 1977, when the newspaper called him “the ghost behind the million-selling albums.”  

Read more:

There are a lot of great tributes to Ralph out there – check them out at the links below.

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
The New York Times
The Late Show with David Letterman (right before and right after Anderson Cooper)
Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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