Joseph Allen "Country Joe" McDonald (born January 1, 1942) is an American musician who was the lead singer of the 1960s psychedelic rock group Country Joe and the Fish.
McDonald was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in El Monte, California, where he was student conductor and president of his high school marching band. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the United States Navy for three years and was stationed in Japan. After his enlistment, he attended Los Angeles City College for a year. In the early 1960s, he began busking on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California. His father, Worden McDonald, from Oklahoma, was of Scottish Presbyterian heritage (the son of a minister); he worked for a telephone company. His mother, Florence Plotnick, was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and served for many years on the Berkeley City Council. In their youth, both were Communist Party members before renouncing the cause, and named their son after Joseph Stalin.
McDonald has recorded 33 albums and has written hundreds of songs over a career spanning 40 years. In 1965, he and Barry Melton co-founded Country Joe & the Fish which became a pioneer psychedelic rock band with their eclectic performances at the Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore, the Monterey Pop Festival, and both the original and 1979 reunion Woodstock Festivals.
In the fall of 2005, political commentator Bill O'Reilly compared McDonald to Cuban President Fidel Castro, remarking on McDonald's involvement in Cindy Sheehan's protests against the Iraq War.
In 2015, McDonald (with assistance from Alec Palao), formed The Electric Music Band; the intention of the group was to perform the early psychedelic material of the early career of Country Joe And The Fish. The band has performed 'Electric Music For The Mind And Body' in its entirety, and band members include Palao, The Rain Parade's Matt Piucci and Derek See of The Chocolate Watchband.
In 2017, McDonald released an album on his own Rag Baby label entitled "50".
McDonald was married to Kathe Werum from 1963 to 1966 and married Robin Menken a year after his divorce from Werum. In 1968, Menken gave birth to the couple's first daughter, Seven Anne McDonald, in San Francisco. Seven, formerly a columnist for LA Weekly and now a movie producer and artist manager, had a previous career as a TV child actor in the late 1970s and early 1980s, managed Johnny Depp's Viper Room nightclub and the alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins in the 1990s, and wrote for Details, Elle and Harper's Bazaar magazines in the 1990s and 2000s. According to Ron Cabral's biography on Country Joe and the Fish, Seven was the subject of and inspiration behind the song Silver and Gold. McDonald has noted that his ex-girlfriend at the time, Janis Joplin, showed much anger for breaking up with her to be with Menken but asked him to write a song about her; the result was "Janis".
McDonald has four other children, Devin (b. 1976) and Tara (b. 1980) from his marriage to Janice Taylor, and Emily (b. 1988) and Ryan (b. 1991) from his marriage to Kathy Wright.
As of 2012, McDonald still lived in Berkeley, California. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.