.

Songwriter, Percussionist Ralph MacDonald Dies

Co-wrote 'Just the Two of Us,' 'Where Is the Love?'

December 21, 2011 3:40 PM ET

Ralph MacDonald
Ralph MacDonald performing onstage.
Echoes/Redferns

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."     

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Fantasy”

Mariah Carey | 1995

Serendipity stuck when Mariah Carey rediscovered the glitchy Tom Tom Club hook, a sample of which is the heart of this upbeat slice of dance pop. "I had the melody idea for 'Fantasy' and I was listening to the radio and heard 'Genius of Love,' and I hadn't heard it in a long time," Carey said. "It reminded me of growing up and listening to the radio and that feeling the song gave me seemed to go with the melody and basic idea I had for 'Fantasy.' I initially told [co-writer] Dave Hall about the idea, and we did it. We called up the Tom Tom Club and they were really into it."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com