Ralph MacDonald. March 15, 1944 – December 18, 2011. R.I.P.
Ralph MacDonald was one of the most important influences in my career of growing LP, the percussion company into a national brand. I met Ralph in 1976 while he was recording Les McCann’s Layers album. He became an endorser that year and remained so until his passing on December 18, 2011. Ralph introduced percussion to a broad audience while working with the Harry Belefonte band which he joined at 17. He not only played percussion for Belefonte’s Caribbean tunes but on the folk tunes that were also part of the repertoire. He created a tambourine style that was so often copied but not quite duplicated. A styled that came from the black gospel church. He was first and foremost musical in all he did and had a way of using just a few percussion tools to make incredible music. Amongst his favorites were the LP Black Beauty Cowbell, congas, metal clackers from Ghana that until he used them, I couldn’t give away and triangles. Those clackers sold quickly after people found out what Ralph used on recordings coming out of Rosebud. He was also a great composer along his writing partner, Bill Salter. His first break came when he took back from Harry Belefonte his composition, Where Is The Love (Belefonte didn’t do anything with it) and asked Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway to record it. The success of this tune enabled him to open Antisia publishing and with a deal he made with TK Records, have the financing to build Rosebud Recording Studio that I went on to record 4 albums in (Patato’s Authority and Ready For Freddy, José Mangual’s Buyú and Luis Perico Ortiz’s My Own Image).