What were once vices are now habits

Aug 30, 2006 at 12:00 am

Michael McDonald's market value has fluctuated mightily during his 40-year migration from the sock hops of St. Louis to the "snow"-capped hills of Hollywood. But little can be written about McDonald without mentioning the silken bellow that defined an era when men were men (albeit often in women's blouses), resplendent patches of knotty body hair were a barometer of sexual virility, and the world finally realized that soul singers could occasionally have cerulean eyes.

The career index of Michael McDonald (NASDAQ symbol: MMcD) might be a jagged line, but it seems only fair that his stock is seeing strong growth in the last quarter of his career. Most analysts agree: Even though the time have been challenging for McDonald, his singular croon has always been kind to us.

1966: Privately held entity

COMPANY NEWS: While St. Louis sector is generally weak, speculation suggests Michael McDonald may be positioned for growth.

MARKET FACTORS: Interest in 17-year-old frontman of the Guild is accompanied by the singer's first bushy thatch on the lower part of his face, which sees startling, aggressive growth. Facial hair will be a continued trend over lifespan.

1972: Goes public (NASDAQ symbol MMcD): 73.35 (+64.41)

STOCK NEWS: While struggling to make ends meet as a musician in Los Angeles, McDonald meets Jeff Porcaro at a casual jam session on board the Toto drummer's yacht.

MARKET FACTORS: Porcaro introduces the aggressive young McDonald to future associates, including Donald Fagen and members of the Doobie Brothers. McDonald's entrée as a rising star in the L.A. marketplace is established.

1979: MMcD: 1,526.55 (+1,453.20)

STOCK NEWS: McDonald's distinctive, yowling singing voice sees record growth over the last two years, as an ubiquitous ingredient of smooth, strutting, late '70s hi-fidelity. His partnership with Steely Dan (NASDAQ: SLDN) and leadership of the Doobie Brothers (NASDAQ: DOOB) helps achieve peak value with an auditory orgasm on "Peg," from the Dan's Aja.

MARKET FACTORS: When Tommy Johnston, CEO of popular California group the Doobie Brothers, suffers a mysterious stomach ailment and is unable to tour, Creem magazine reports McDonald as the band's new figurehead, causing a rise in the street value of both MMcD and DOOB. Now in charge of the Doobies, McDonald reforms their business strategy in sectors of roughneck California country in favor of the shimmering strut of blue-eyed R&B, and their first commercial enterprise, "Takin' It to the Streets," assists in the rapid disappearance of white lines from glass coffee tables over the next two years. 1979's "What a Fool Believes" continues growth pattern with four Grammys. That year McDonald performs at the infamous "No Nukes" concert alongside James Taylor (NASDAQ: PSSY) and Graham Nash (NASDAQ: BTCH), who joined the summit after abandonment of its original theme, "No Wife Beaters."

1982: MMcD: 1,209.82 (-316.73)

STOCK NEWS: MMcD slides with McDonald's alarming departure from Doobie Brothers (NASDAQ: DOOB) and his inevitable solo startup, If That's What It Takes.

MARKET FACTORS: Quarter driven by the single "I Keep Forgettin'," though success of single never reaches peak profitability of DOOB. McDonald enters joint(s) venture with James Ingram, producing a short-lived buzz for "Yah Mo B There." Ultimately enterprise is abandoned amid confusion about who exactly "Yah Mo" is, where exactly "Ya Mo B," and when he or she will be there. The song becomes a founder of 1980s genre Quiet Storm (NASDAQ: SHIT).

1985: MMcD: 990.11 (-219.71)

STOCK NEWS: After starving consumers for three long years, offering only a paltry showing with guest vocals on Christopher Cross' (NASDAQ: CROC) self-titled enterprise, McDonald releases a limpid sophomore project entitled No Lookin' Back.

MARKET FACTORS: No Lookin' Back produces only a minor hit in its title track, causing stock to spiral and analysts to wonder if this is the end of MMcD's profitability.

1986: MMcD: 1,258.64 (+268.53)

STOCK NEWS: Venture with bullish R&B market-leader Patti Labelle, "On My Own," ascends to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart and holds the top spot for six weeks.

MARKET FACTORS: Revitalization of McDonald's stock price is complete with the release of "Sweet Freedom," the single from the sound track to the 1986 motion picture Running Scared, in which Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal portray Danny and Ray, two wise guy cops loose on the cold streets of the Windy City.

1990: MMcD: 112.21 (-1,146.43)

STOCK NEWS: McDonald re-emerges with "Take it to the Heart," his mane fully white.

MARKET FACTORS: Price plummets with disastrous effort that doesn't even enter the Top 100. Perhaps as a self-imposed castigation for the hitless record, the mulleted McDonald tours with Boz Scaggs (NASDAQ: SCAG) and Phoebe Snow (NASDAQ: SNOW). MMcD is downgraded, and some shareholders begin to trim their holdings.

1993: MMcD: 88.14 (-24.07)

STOCK NEWS: The feared all-time low for McDonald's stock comes with the release Blink of an Eye, which is ignored by the public, panned by the critics, and danced on drunkenly by Gregory Hines.

MARKET FACTORS: McDonald consoles himself about his fading career by enjoying copious amounts of a fast food chain with which he feels a particular kinship.

1997: MMcD: 89.67 (+1.53)

STOCK NEWS: The Doobie Brothers (NASDAQ: DOOB), motivated by high-dollar mortgages and high-alimony exes, make a late-career rally to "get the band back together."

MARKET FACTORS: Slight rise in MMcD, as McDonald, now a bloated ringer for George Lucas, spends the tour parked at center stage behind an electric piano. Two years later, he emerges with Blue Obsession, an ill-advised venture that braves a soft rock cover of Neil Young's "Down by the River."

2003: MMcD: 547.66 (+457.99)

STOCK NEWS: A slimmer, remade McDonald rises from the ashes with Motown, a collection of covers.

MARKET FACTORS: An instant hit with his maturing consumers, McDonald is invited to perform at John Travolta's (NASDAQ: GRSE) 50th birthday gala and inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. The same year McDonald becomes the only inductee featured prominently on commercial advertisements for telecommunications giant MCI, with his baritone wind rendition of Ashford and Simpson's (NASDAQ: ASS) "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

2006: MMcD: 1,256.87 (+709.21)

STOCK NEWS: Michael McDonald's stock once again soars as he becomes the central figure in "Yacht Rock," an online short film series that is awash in hipster irony.

MARKET FACTORS: Drawing inspiration from the moment in the 1970s when soft rock's platinum reign was challenged by the onset of factors like Nicaraguan party drugs and Hall & Oates, the "Yacht Rock" series becomes an Internet phenomenon. The series pilot, in which McDonald struggles to write hits for the Doobie Brothers, enjoys 138,000 downloads and — within the disorienting labyrinth of hipster irony — sparks renewed interest in McDonald among the sideways haircut set. MMcD is upgraded to "buy" by analysts in big glasses and American Apparel mesh shirts. Factors in the rise include McDonald's sudden and scattered pop cultural relevance, including frequent mentions in "South Park," his DVD cameo in The 40-Year Old Virgin, and an off-off-off-Broadway (as in Santa Monica, Calif.) soft rock-inspired production called "Much Adoobie Brothers About Nothing."


Saturday, Sept. 2, at DTE Energy Music Theatre, 7774 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston; 248-645-6666. With Steely Dan.

Nate Cavalieri is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]