Country Joe McDonald
Country Joe McDonald is an American musician who was the lead singer of the 1960s psychedelic rock
Psychedelic rock
Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It emerged during the mid 1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in United States and the United Kingdom...

 group Country Joe and the Fish
Country Joe and the Fish
Country Joe and the Fish was a rock band most widely known for musical protests against the Vietnam War, from 1966 to 1971, and also regarded as a seminal influence to psychedelic rock.-History:...


Personal life

McDonald was born in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, At the age of 17, he enlisted in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. After his enlistment, he attended the Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles City College, known as LACC, is a public community college in the East Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California. A part of the Los Angeles Community College District, it is located on Vermont Avenue south of Santa Monica Boulevard...

 for a year. In the early 1960s, he began busking
Street performance or busking is the practice of performing in public places, for gratuities, which are generally in the form of money and edibles...

 on Berkeley, California
Berkeley, California
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

's famous Telegraph Avenue
Telegraph Avenue
Telegraph Avenue is a street that begins, at its southernmost point, in the midst of the historic downtown district of Oakland, California, USA, and ends, at its northernmost point, at the southern edge of the University of California campus in Berkeley, California...

. His father, Worden McDonald, was of Scottish
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 Presbyterian heritage, and his mother, the late Florence Plotnick, was the daughter of Russian
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 Jewish immigrants, and served for many years on the Berkeley city council
City council
A city council or town council is the legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality or local government area.-Australia & NZ:Because of the differences in legislation between the States, the exact definition of a City Council varies...

. As of 2009, Country Joe still lives in Berkeley, California
Berkeley, California
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay in Northern California, United States. Its neighbors to the south are the cities of Oakland and Emeryville. To the north is the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington...

. McDonald's daughter, Seven, is a columnist
A columnist is a journalist who writes for publication in a series, creating an article that usually offers commentary and opinions. Columns appear in newspapers, magazines and other publications, including blogs....

 for the LA Weekly
LA Weekly
LA Weekly is a free weekly tabloid-sized "alternative weekly" in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1978 by Editor/Publisher Jay Levin and a board of directors that included actor-producer Michael Douglas...

. He has four other children, Devin, Tara, Ryan, and Emily.


McDonald has recorded 33 albums and has written hundreds of songs over a career spanning 40 years. He and Barry Melton
Barry Melton
Barry "The Fish" Melton was the co-founder and original lead guitarist of Country Joe and The Fish. Barry appears on all the Country Joe and The Fish recordings and he also wrote some of the songs that the band recorded...

 co-founded Country Joe & the Fish which became a pioneer psychedelic rock
Psychedelic rock
Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It emerged during the mid 1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in United States and the United Kingdom...

 band with their eclectic performances at The Avalon Ballroom
The Avalon Ballroom
The Avalon Ballroom is a music venue, in the Polk Gulch neighborhood of San Francisco, California, at 1268 Sutter Street, on the north side, one building east of the corner of Van Ness Avenue. The space operated from 1966 to 1968 and reopened in 2003...

, The Fillmore
The Fillmore
The Fillmore Auditorium is a historic music venue in San Francisco, California, made famous by Bill Graham. Named for its original location at the intersection of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard, it lies on the boundary of the Western Addition and the Pacific Heights neighborhoods.In 1968,...

, Monterey Pop Festival
Monterey Pop Festival
The Monterey International Pop Music Festival was a three-day concert event held June 16 to June 18, 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California...

 and both the original and the reunion Woodstock Festival
Woodstock Festival
Woodstock Music & Art Fair was a music festival, billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music". It was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in the Catskills near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, New York, from August 15 to August 18, 1969...


Their best known song is his "The "Fish" Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag," a black comedy
Black comedy
A black comedy, or dark comedy, is a comic work that employs black humor or gallows humor. The definition of black humor is problematic; it has been argued that it corresponds to the earlier concept of gallows humor; and that, as humor has been defined since Freud as a comedic act that anesthetizes...

 novelty song
Novelty song
A novelty song is a comical or nonsensical song, performed principally for its comical effect. Humorous songs, or those containing humorous elements, are not necessarily novelty songs. The term arose in Tin Pan Alley to describe one of the major divisions of popular music. The other two divisions...

 about the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, whose familiar chorus ("One, two, three, what are we fighting for?") is well known to the Woodstock generation and Vietnam Veterans
Vietnam Veterans
The Vietnam Veterans is an French psychedelic band, hailing originally from Chalon-sur-Saône, a commune in eastern France. They released six full-length albums during the 1980s, starting in 1983. The band was praised by many alternative music publications, including Bucketful Of Brains during the...

 of the 1960s and 1970s. The "Fish Cheer" was the band performing a call-and-response with the audience, spelling the word "fish", followed by Country Joe yelling, "What's that spell?" twice, with the audience responding, and then, the third time, "What's that smell?", followed immediately by the song. The "Fish Cheer" evolved into the "Fuck Cheer" after the Berkeley free speech movement
Free Speech Movement
The Free Speech Movement was a student protest which took place during the 1964–1965 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley under the informal leadership of students Mario Savio, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and...


The cheer was on the original recording of the I-Feel-Like-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag, being played right before the song on the LP
LP album
The LP, or long-playing microgroove record, is a format for phonograph records, an analog sound storage medium. Introduced by Columbia Records in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry...

 of the same name. The cheer became popular and the crowd would spell out F-I-S-H when the band performed live. During the summer of 1968 the band played on the Schaefer Music Festival
Schaefer Music Festival
The Schaefer Music Festival was a music festival which had been held in the summers between 1968 and 1976 at the Wollman Skating Rink in New York City's Central Park. The series had been sponsored by F. & M...

 tour. Gary "Chicken" Hirsh suggested before one of the shows to spell the word "fuck
"Fuck" is an English word that is generally considered obscene which, in its most literal meaning, refers to the act of sexual intercourse. By extension it may be used to negatively characterize anything that can be dismissed, disdained, defiled, or destroyed."Fuck" can be used as a verb, adverb,...

" instead of "fish." Although the crowd loved it, the management of the Schaefer Beer
Schaefer Beer
Schaefer Beer is a brand of American beer. Schaefer Beer was first produced in 1842 by the F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company. The name "Schaefer" is derived from the last name of founding brothers Frederick and Maximiliam Schaefer....

 Festival did not and kicked the band off the tour for life. The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show is an American TV variety show that originally ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan....

 then canceled a previously scheduled appearance by the band, telling them to keep the money they had already been paid in exchange for never playing on the show. The modified cheer continued at most of the band's live shows throughout the years, including Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival
Isle of Wight Festival
The Isle of Wight Festival is a music festival which takes place every year on the Isle of Wight in England. It was originally held from 1968 to 1970. These original events were promoted and organised by the Foulk brothers under the banner of their company Fiery Creations Limited...

. In Massachusetts, McDonald was fined $500 for uttering "fuck" in public.

In 2003 McDonald was sued for copyright infringement
Copyright infringement
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.- "Piracy" :...

 over his signature song, specifically the "One, two, three, what are we fighting for?" chorus part, as derived from the 1926 early jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 classic "Muskrat Ramble
Muskrat Ramble
"Muskrat Ramble" is a jazz composition written by Kid Ory in 1926. It was first recorded on February 26, 1926 by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, and became the group's most frequently recorded piece...

", co-written by Kid Ory
Kid Ory
Edward "Kid" Ory was a jazz trombonist and bandleader. He was born in Woodland Plantation near LaPlace, Louisiana.-Biography:...

. The suit was brought by Ory's daughter Babette, who held the copyright at the time. Since decades had already passed from the time McDonald composed his song in 1965, Ory based her suit on a new version of it recorded by McDonald in 1999. The court however upheld McDonald's laches
Laches (equity)
Laches is an "unreasonable delay pursuing a right or a way that prejudices the [opposing] party" When asserted in litigation, it is an equitable defense, or doctrine...

 defense, noting that Ory and her father were aware of the original version of the song, with the same questionable section, for some three decades without bringing a suit. In 2006, Ory was ordered to pay McDonald $750,000 for attorney fees and had to sell her copyrights to do so.

In 2004, Country Joe regrouped with some of the original members of Country Joe and The Fish as the Country Joe Band – Bruce Barthol
Bruce Barthol
Bruce Barthol, , is an American bass player.Born at Alta Bates Hospital, Berkeley, California, he was the original bass player with Country Joe and the Fish through to November 1968...

, David Bennett Cohen
David Bennett Cohen
David Bennett Cohen is an American musician best known as the original keyboardist for the late-1960s psychedelic rock and blues band Country Joe and the Fish.-Early Life and Influences:...

, and Gary "Chicken" Hirsh. The band toured the United States and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

In the spring of 2005, McDonald joined a larger protest against California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

's proposed budget cuts at the California State Capitol Building.

In the fall of 2005, political commentator Bill O'Reilly
Bill O'Reilly (commentator)
William James "Bill" O'Reilly, Jr. is an American television host, author, syndicated columnist and political commentator. He is the host of the political commentary program The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel, which is the most watched cable news television program on American television...

 compared McDonald to Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

n President Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

, remarking on McDonald's involvement in Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Lee Miller Sheehan is an American anti-war activist whose son, U.S. Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, was killed by enemy action during the Iraq War. She attracted national and international media attention in August 2005 for her extended anti-war protest at a makeshift camp outside President...

's protests against the Iraq War
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...



  • Tonight I'm Singing Just for You (1969)
  • Thinking of Woody Guthrie
    Thinking of Woody Guthrie
    -Performers:*Vocals, Guitar, - Country Joe McDonald*Guitar - Grady Martin, Ray Edenton, Samuel Charters, Harold Rugg*Sitar - Grady Martin*Drums - Buddy Harmon*Dobro - Grady Martin*Bass - Harold Bradley*Piano - Hargus "Pig" Robbins...

  • War War War
    War War War
    -Reception:The album did decently well taking 185th Position on the 1971 Billboard 200 list -Useful Links:***

  • Hold On It's Coming (1971)
  • Paris Sessions (1972)
  • Incredible! Live (Live Album) (1972)
  • Country Joe
    Country Joe (album)
    Country Joe was the 7th album of Country Joe McDonald, released in 1975. It was reissued on CD in 1996 on the One Way Records label.- Track listing :# "Dr...

  • Love Is a Fire (1976)
  • Paradise With an Ocean View (1976)
  • Goodbye Blues (1977)
  • Rock N Roll from Planet Earth (1978)

  • Leisure Suite(1979)
  • On My Own (1980)
  • Into The Fray (1982)
  • Child's Play (1983)
  • Peace On Earth (1984)
  • Best of Country Joe—on Vanguard(1986)
  • Classics Best Of (1989)
  • Superstitious Blues (1991)
  • Vietnam Experience (1995)
  • Carry On (1996)
  • Eat Flowers And Kiss Babies—Country Joe and Bevis Frond at the QEH-Live (1998)
  • Something Borrowed, Something New (The Best Of) (1998)
  • (2000)
  • A Reflection On Changing Times The Best Of (box) (2003)
  • Natural Imperfections—Joe McDonald and Bernie Krause (2005)
    • Vanguard Visionaries
      Vanguard Visionaries
      Vanguard Visionaries is a compilation album by American banjoist Alison Brown, released in 2007.-History:Vanguard Records had a high profile during the 1960s folk revival and released music by many folk artists such as Doc Watson, Odetta, John Fahey and many others...

  • Country Joe Live At The Borderline(2007)
  • Tribute To Woody Guthrie (2007)
  • War, War, War (Live) (2007)

External links

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