Michael McDonald: New Memoir, ‘What a Fool Believes,’ Written With Paul Reiser

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Michael McDonald has released What a Fool Believes: A Memoir, written with actor, comedian and best-selling author Paul Reiser. The title, from Dey Street Books arrived May 21, 2024, in the U.S. with the U.K. editon coming June 6. Its title is taken from the Doobie Brothers’ 1979 #1 single, co-written by McDonald and Kenny Loggins, that went on to win Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

From the publisher’s Dec. 13 announcement: Interwoven with unforgettable tales from his storied career and a cast of music greats including James Taylor, Ray Charles, Carly Simon and Quincy Jones, What a Fool Believes finds the singer-songwriter, five-time Grammy Award winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee reckoning with the unshakeable insecurities that drove him and the highs and lows of fame and popularity. Along the way he relays the hard-earned lessons he has learned.

Co-authors McDonald and Reiser first crossed paths at a party a number of years ago. McDonald was aware of Reiser’s work as an actor and author, but that night he learned of Reiser’s love for music and his own skill as a pianist and songwriter. Reiser invited McDonald over to check out his home studio; the two ended up jamming into the wee hours and a friendship was born. It was Reiser who convinced McDonald that he needed to tell his story.

“The story developed as we wrote it,” McDonald told The Today Show on May 20. “What came forth was his personal story,” added Reiser.

A member of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan as well as a chart-topping solo artist and collaborator with some of the biggest names in music, McDonald’s unmistakably smooth baritone voice defined an era of popular music with hits like “What a Fool Believes,” “Takin’ It To the Streets,” “It Keeps You Running,” “You Belong to Me,” the James Ingram duet “Yah Mo B There,” the Patti LaBelle duet “On My Own” and many more. Born on Feb. 13, 1952, in Ferguson, Missouri, McDonald chased his musical dreams in 1970’s California. As a rising session musician and backing vocalist, a series of encounters sent him on a wild ride around the world and to the heights of rock stardom.

After being an integral part of Steely Dan, McDonald was invited to join the Doobie Brothers as the band redefined their sound with McDonald serving as singer, keyboardist and songwriter on numerous Top 40 singles. He has performed with a who’s-who of critically acclaimed artists including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Vince Gill, and more.

Related: Our conversation with McDonald about how the song, “What a Fool Believes,” came to be

McDonald is touring with the Doobie Brothers in 2024. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com and StubHub.

Reiser is a comedian, Emmy Award-nominated actor, screenwriter and #1 New York Times best-selling author. He has recently appeared in Netflix’s Stranger Things and The Kominsky Method as well as Hulu’s critically acclaimed comedy Reboot and Amazon Prime’s The Boys. Reiser created and starred (along with Helen Hunt) in the long-running hit 90s comedy Mad About You and has appeared in classic films like Diner, Aliens, the Beverly Hills Cop franchise and Whiplash. His latest film, The Problem With People, which he wrote, starred in and produced, is slated to hit theaters early 2024. Reiser is the author of the best-selling books Couplehood, Babyhood and Familyhood.

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. 122intheshade
    #1 122intheshade 14 December, 2023, 00:38

    Can’t wait to compare Mike’s version of the Doobies with the Tom Johnston/Pat Simmons book “Long Train Runnin'”.

    SCTV did a terrific gag on McDonald for “The Gerry Todd Show”. Hilarious.

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  2. BMac
    #2 BMac 15 December, 2023, 13:06

    I worked at a radio station about 20 years ago, and McDonald was an on-air guest, as he was playing that night locally. One of our production managers really wanted to ask him how it felt to “kill” the Doobie Brothers sound. Because damn, he came along, and it DID die! Not saying I don’t like the “2nd” version of the Doobies – love the songs “Chinatown”, “Living on the Fault Line”, and “Minute by Minute” – but man, that was a drastic shift in sound.

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  3. v2787
    #3 v2787 12 February, 2024, 18:07

    I look forward to reading this book. Now I want to know when Stephen Stills is going to write his memoirs. Now THAT would be a story worth reading!

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