Ralph MacDonald, Pop Percussionist and Composer of Trinidadian Descent, Dies at 67
Paul Vitello’s obituary for MacDonald from The New York Times.
Ralph MacDonald, a Grammy Award -winning percussionist and composer whose understated Afro-Caribbean rhythms were known as “the ghost” behind the hit records of a multitude of 1970s and ’80s pop stars and who was a co-writer on the hit songs “Where Is the Love?” and “Just the Two of Us,” died on Sunday in Stamford, Conn. He was 67.
The cause was lung cancer, his family said.
Mr. MacDonald’s touch on the conga drums and dozens of other percussion instruments was ubiquitous for many years in pop music. It supplied the intimate undertow of Bette Midler’s “Do You Want to Dance?” (1972), the drive behind David Bowie’s “Young Americans” (1975) and the Caribbean lilt in Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” (1977).
With a reputation in the industry as “the ghost behind the million-selling albums,” as The New York Times recounted in 1977…
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