At 81 years old, Country Joe McDonald has this physical status:
Early life and early career
McDonald was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in El Monte, California, where he served as student conductor and president of his high school marching band. He served in the US Navy for three years and was stationed in Japan at the age of 17. He attended Los Angeles City College for a year after being enlisted. He began busking on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, in the early 1960s. Worden McDonald, a father from Oklahoma, was of Scottish Presbyterian origins (the son of a minister) and worked for a telephone company. Florence Plotnick, his mother, was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and served for many years on the Berkeley City Council. Both were Communist Party members and named their son after Joseph Stalin before renouncing the cause.
McDonald has released 33 albums and has written hundreds of books in his 60-year career. Country Joe & the Fish, 1965 Monterey, became a pioneer psychedelic rock band with their eclectic appearances at the Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore Auditorium, the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, and both the 1969 and 1979 reunion Woodstock Festivals.
They're most well-known song is their "Fish" Cheer/I-Fixin's-to-Die Rag, a black comedy novelty song about the Vietnam War (1965), whose familiar chorus ("One, two, three, what are we fighting for?" The Woodstock generation and Vietnam veterans of the 1960s and 1970s are well-known. McDonald wrote the song in about 20 minutes for an anti-Vietnam War play. The "Fish Cheer" was the band's call-and-response with the audience, spelling the word "fish" first, followed by Country Joe's yelling, "What is this word?" "What is that spell?" the audience responds twice, and then, for the third time, "What is the word?" The song was immediately followed by the song.' After the Berkeley free speech movement, the "Fish Cheer" became the "Fuck Cheer." The applause came on the original recording of "I-Feel-Fixin'-To-Die Rag" that was being performed right before the song was on the LP of the same name. When the band performed live, the applause grew and the audience would spell out F-I-S-H. The band appeared on the Schaefer Music Festival tour in 1968. Gary "Chicken" Hirsh suggested before one of the shows that you spell "fuck" rather than "fish." Despite the fact that the crowd loved it, the Schaefer Beer Festival's stewardship was not happy and barred the band from attending the tour for life. The Ed Sullivan Show cancelled a previously planned appearance by the band, advising them to keep the money they had already been paid in exchange for not being on the show. The refurbished audience remained at the majority of the band's live shows, including Woodstock and elsewhere. McDonald was jailed in Worcester, Massachusetts, for profaning "fuck" in public.
McDonald then embarked on a solo career. In Christgau's Record Book: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau analyzed one of his solo albums, the 1973 Vanguard LP Paris Sessions, in which he said, "Amazing." The guy (repeat: guy) has written feminist songs that are both catchy and sensible. Despite the real/honest prison poem and the silly, outdated fan routines, his best in about five years was in around five years.
What are we fighting for? McDonald was sued for copyright infringement for his signature song, specifically the "One, two, three." Parts of the chorus were derived from Kid Ory's 1926 early jazz classic "Muskrat Ramble." Ory's daughter Babette, who held the copyright at the time, had the suit. Ory based her suit on a new version of it that was not released by McDonald in 1965 since decades had already passed since the time McDonald composed his song in 1965. The court upheld McDonald's laches defense, finding that Ory and her father were aware of the original version of the song, which had the same troublesome portion for three decades without bringing a lawsuit. Ory was ordered to pay McDonald $395,000 in attorney fees and was required to sell her copyrights to do so.
McDonald reunited with three of Country Joe and the Fish's original members (Bruce Barthol, David Bennett Cohen, and Gary "Chicken" Hirsh) in 2004 and joined the "Country Joe Band" in the United States and the United Kingdom.
McDonald participated in a larger movement against California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's planned budget reductions at the California State Capitol Building in 2005. Bill O'Reilly, a political analyst, likened McDonald to Cuban President Fidel Castro, remarking on McDonald's role in Cindy Sheehan's anti-Irm War protests.
McDonald (with support from Alec Palao) formed The Electric Music Band in 2015; the group's goal was to perform the early psychedelic content from the early career of Country Joe And The cheddar. The band has performed Electric Music For The Mind And Body in its entirety, with Palao, the Rain Parade's Matt Piucci, and Derek See of the Chocolate Watchband among the band's members.
McDonald's own Rag Baby label released 50 albums on his own Rag Baby label in 2017.
Mc Donald was supposed to attend Woodstock's 50th Anniversary festival in 2019, but it was postponed due to a lack of communication between the two parties.