1949 (age 68–69)|
|Genres||R&B, hip hop,blues, industrial,dub|
Musical string arranger
|1973 - present|
|Labels||Sugar Hill, Wired, Real World, Fat Possum, Okeh|
|Tackhead, Adrian Sherwood, Bernard Fowler, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, The Process|
Grounded in blues music learned from his father, McDonald spent his early days playing jazz, doo-wop, and gospel, and eventually relocated to New York City as a teenager with his band of friends, called The Entertainers.
McDonald formed the group Wood Brass & Steel in 1973 with bass guitarist Doug Wimbish and drummer Harold Sargent. The group recorded two albums before their 1979 breakup. He then became part of the house band for Sugarhill Records and appeared as a session player on many early rap albums, including "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five.
After leaving Sugarhill, McDonald, Wimbish, and drummer Keith LeBlanc began working with Adrian Sherwood, and eventually formed the trio into the industrial/dub group Tackhead, initially fronted by Gary Clail and later Bernard Fowler. McDonald would also collaborate with Sherwood on other projects, including albums by African Head Charge and Mark Stewart.
In the 1990s, McDonald assumed the moniker "Little Axe" and began moving from hip hop to a form of blues that drew from an array of musical influences, including dub, R&B, gospel, and jazz. He has been working steadily as a studio musician, recording both his own blues albums, continuing to appear as a guest act on other artists' albums as well. His most recent albums have been released on Real World Records. Alan Glen is often featured on harmonica on these albums.
As of 2016, he still tours and gigs regularly, has a loyal following and is in regular demand for session work as a guitarist.