Michael McDonald Recalls His Infamous Confrontation With Ray Charles Calling It “One of the Worst Moments” of His Life
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Michael McDonald Recalls His Infamous Confrontation With Ray Charles Calling It “One of the Worst Moments” of His Life

Michael McDonald recently opened up about a particularly distressing encounter with Ray Charles, calling it “one of the worst moments” of his life. The incident took place in 2000 during a tribute concert organized by NAMM, where McDonald was being honored. The event aimed to support a program dedicated to keeping music education alive in public schools by donating instruments and texts.

The concert featured an impressive lineup, including McDonald’s former band, the Doobie Brothers, Boz Scaggs, Kenny Loggins, and Steve Winwood. Among the performers was Ray Charles, one of McDonald’s musical idols. Despite the star-studded lineup, none of the artists were paid for their performances, as all proceeds were intended for charity. However, it seemed that Ray Charles had not been informed of this arrangement.

Hours before the show, McDonald was unexpectedly called to Charles’ trailer. The encounter began amicably, with Charles engaging in small talk about the song ‘Hey Girl,’ which he was set to perform. But the conversation quickly took a turn when Charles demanded payment for his performance. McDonald explained that he had promised all the money would go to charity and that paying Charles would break his word to the other artists.

Charles, however, was not appeased. “I’m an old man, God damn it,” he exclaimed. “I don’t play this shit for free.” Despite McDonald’s attempts to explain his commitment to the charity, Charles responded harshly, saying, “I don’t give a fuck about your solemn oath!” The confrontation left McDonald in a difficult position, but he managed to retreat to the backstage area, where he could finally laugh about the ordeal. In the end, Charles performed without further incident.

This incident remains a significant and uncomfortable memory for McDonald, highlighting the complexities and challenges that can arise even in charitable endeavors.