Country Joe McDonald

Country Joe McDonald Net Worth

$2 Million
Last Updated: November 8, 2023
Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$2 Million
Date of Birth:
Jan 1, 1942 (81 years old)
Place of Birth:
Washington, D.C.
Singer, Musician
United States of America
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What is Country Joe McDonald's Net Worth?

Country Joe McDonald is an American musician who has a net worth of $2 million. Country Joe McDonald is best known for being the lead singer of the 1960s rock band Country Joe and the Fish. He co-founded Country Joe and the Fish in 1965 with Barry Melton. The band is famous for performing at both the original and 1979 reunion Woodstock Festivals. Their best known single is "The "Fish" Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" from 1965. The band released six studio albums starting with their debut "Electric Music for the Mind and Body" in 1967. McDonald has also released many solo studio albums. He has appeared in a few films and television series. Country Joe dated Janis Joplin for a time which led to the song "Janis".

Early Life

McDonald was born on January 1, 1942 in Washington, D.C and given the name Joseph Allen McDonald. He was born to parents Worden McDonald and Florence Plotnick. His father was from Oklahoma and worked for a telephone company while his mother was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and served for many years on the Berkeley City Council. His parents were both Communist party members in their youth and named their son after Joseph Stalin, before ultimately renouncing the cause.

While in high school, McDonald was the student conductor and president of his school's marching band. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy for three years and was later stationed in Japan. After his enlistment, he attended Los Angeles City College for a year. In the early 1960s, he began busking on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California while trying to pursue a career in music.


In 1965, he co-founded the band Country Joe & the Fish with Barry Melton. The band became a pioneer in psychedelic rock. Their best-known song is one of their early releases – "The Fish Cheer/I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" which they released in 1965. The song is a black comedy novelty song about the Vietnam War. McDonald had written the song in about 20 minutes for an anti-Vietnam War play. The "Fish Cheer" part of the song involves the band performing a call and response with the audience. Originally, it involved spelling out the word "fish" a couple of times before the band would launch in to the song. However, it was later altered to spell the world "fuck." It became well-known as a chant to the Woodstock generation and Vietnam veterans of the 1960s and 1970s.

The band grew in popularity through notable performances at the Avalon Ballroom, the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, and at both the 1969 original and 1979 Woodstock Festivals. After a successful number of years with Country Joe & the Fish, McDonald embarked on a solo career. One of his solo albums, the 1973 "Paris Sessions" received very positive reviews. He continued releasing solo albums over the next decades including "Country Joe," "Love is a Fire," "Goodbye Blues," "Leisure Suite," "On My Own," "Child's Play," "Superstitious Blues," and "Time Flies By," among others.

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In 2003, McDonald was sued for copyright infringement over "The Fish Cheer." Specifically, the suit alleged that the chorus part of the song derived from the 1926 jazz class "Muskrat Ramble" which was co-written by Kid Ory. Ory's daughter brought the suit as she held the copyright at that time. Since decades had already passed since McDonald had composed his song in 1965, the daughter brought the suit based on a new version of the song recorded by McDonald in 1999. The court denied the claim, remarking that Ory and his daughter had been aware of the original version of the song for some three decades without bringing the suit. In 2006, Ory was ordered to pay McDonald $395,000 for attorney's fees and had to sell her copyrights in order to make the payment.

In 2004, McDonald got back together with three of the original members of Country Joe & the Fish. The group toured the United States and the United Kingdom as the Country Joe Band. In 2015, McDonald formed The Electric Music Band with the intention of performing the early psychedelic material of Country Joe & the Fish. The band has performed the album "Electric Music For the Mind and Body" in its entirety. The band members include Alec Palao, Matt Piucci, and Derek See.

In 2019, McDonald was scheduled to play on Woodstock's 50th Anniversary festival but it was cancelled after negotiations between partners of the festival failed.

Personal Life and Death

McDonald was married to Kathe Werum from 1963 to 1966. A year after his divorce from Werum, he married Robin Menken. In 1968, they welcomed their first child, Seven Anne McDonald, in San Francisco. Seven had a career as a child actor in the late 1970s and early 1980s and later became a manager for bands like Smashing Pumpkins. McDonald and Menken later divorced and he married Janice Taylor. They had two children together – Devin in 1976 and Tara in 1980. He then divorced Taylor and married Kathy Wright. He had two more children with Wright – Emily in 1988 and Ryan in 1991. McDonald lives in Berkeley, California.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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