Interview with Alex MacDougall
From early Maranatha bands like The Way to Daniel Amos, Richie Furay, Bob Bennett and Mark Heard, Alex MacDougall has played percussion and drums on countless albums over the years.
One-Way: Alex, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview. Your name has appeared on so many Christian albums over the years. Tell us a little about your musical beginnings.
Alex MacDougall: I liked pop radio and pedaled my bike to purchase my 45's (Ray Charles, Dick Dale, Bobby Rydell, Jimmy Dean, and others). Then I saw Ringo on Ed Sullivan and thought...... "that's it!"
One-Way: Which artists, secular or Christian, influenced you in the early years?
Alex: Lots and Lots. In the 60's, it was of course the British Invasion and the San Francisco "sound". I was fortunate to be in attendance at all 5 Monterey Pop Festival shows in '67. I even filmed them on the old 8mm format (no sound). My first real rock concert was the Grateful Dead with Buffalo Springfield opening up! Unbelievable. That was probably in '66. My favs were Buffalo Springfield (that was the beginning of my friendship with Richie Furay), The Mothers, John Coltrane, John Handy, Harry Partch, Cream, Modern Jazz Quartet, Pentangle, Willie Bobo, Airto Moriera and countless others.
One-Way: Tell us about your conversion experience.
Alex: Music was everything to me. I was a quiet, obese kid. I was sensitive to "church things" on the rare occasions that they crossed my path. In October of '69, just 4 months after graduating high school, I accepted Christ at a Billy Graham Crusade in Anaheim, CA. Billy preached on 2Cor. 5:14---"If any man be in Christ he is a new creation-old things are passed away." I wanted to be a new creation, so I went forward, and was never the same.
One-Way: You were one of the original members of Daniel Amos; any thoughts or funny stories from that time?
Alex: Actually, I was not an original member. I played on the first record (Daniel Amos Is), and also Shotgun Angel as well. Gradually, I started playing a bit with them as a sideman. We had so much fun, that it worked out for me to join. We had a unique live/stage persona, and were great friends as well. In spite of our craziness at times, the Lord moved, and lots of folks were saved and inpired during the various events. I was serving "double duty" at the time, working as Larry Norman's and Randy Stonehill's drummer. The connection happened between the "Solid Rock" family and DA during this time.
The infamous Daniel Amos Is cassette
"The tape duplicator apparently didn't understand that it was a self-titled album, then took one look at the LP's back cover, saw the phrase "Daniel Amos Is:" in large lettering, and decided that was the album's title! Of course, the band members' names and the instruments they played appeared under that heading, but it was too late: the cassettes and 8-tracks were already manufactured and out the warehouse doors...
The guys in DA were embarrassed and chagrined, of course, but they also saw the humor in the ludicrously-titled "Daniel Amos Is: Daniel Amos" tapes. We (Aslan) shared a lot of laughter with them over that fiasco--at least until "Shotgun Angel" was released!" ;) -- Bill Hoppe (Aslan keyboardist)
One-Way: Horrendous Disc is probably the favorite Daniel Amos album among fans. What was it like recording HD and how did the public respond to the change in musical style from the first two albums?
Alex: I remember that we recorded the basic tracks in our pajamas, which was a bit uncomfortable. But we reasoned that Laurel and Hardy and the 3 Stooges hung out together like that, and it was okay. We had a sign on the recording door..."Warning-Xenophobia", as we didn't want or allow anyone in the studio.
Alex (far right) with Daniel Amos circa 1980 Horrendous Disc period
One-Way: What kind of memories do you have of the Jesus movement years?
Alex: Great ones! Life was simple, and it took very little money to live, travel and minister. Church was the focal point, Lonnie Frisbee preached and Love Song sang. At times it was pretty legalistic doctrinally, because we all "knew so much" during our early 20's.
One-Way: Do you have any particular artist/record favorites from that period?
Alex: Malcolm and Alwyn-Fools Wisdom, Larry Norman-Upon This Rock, George Beverly Shea-I'd Rather Have Jesus, Airto-Natural Feelings, The Edwin Hawkins Singers-Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord.
One-Way: Tell me a little about your stint with the Richie Furay Band.
Alex: I had met Richie when I was in high school and would go see Buffalo Springfield play. He and Nancy were very gracious to the fans. My friends and I even visited their house several times, always being invited in. Fast forward eight years--I'm now a Christian, and meet Al Perkins at church, who was playing with Richie (Souther-Hillman-Furay Band), and had led Richie to the Lord. Al re-introduced us, and Richie asked me to be in his new band after I recorded percussion parts on the first album. I was already friends with the rest of the guys in the band (John, Jay, Tom, Bob/Virgil, Dave). Most of us moved to the Boulder, Colorado, area to be in the band. That was in '76.
One-Way: That was such a great album. How did the general public react to it and Richie's new found faith?
Alex: They really didn't care for it, which caused our set list to change over time. We started including Richie's past songs from the Springfield and Poco. The concerts were exciting to me, and the opportunity to tour and open for major acts was a treat (The Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Leon Russell, etc.)
One-Way: Do you still keep in touch with folks from those days?
Alex: I haven't seen Richie for a couple of years, and longer than that for the rest of the guys, except for Dave (Diggs) who I saw several months ago.
One-Way: What current music do you like to listen to?
Alex: Airto and Flora, lots of worship from a variety of lables and worship leaders, Miles Davis, Ian White, Morelenbaum/Sakamoto, Nora Jones, Willie Nelson, Neil Young.
One-Way: What do you think of today's Christian music industry and where it's headed?
Alex: There are A LOT of wonderful things happening beneath the surface. I think to some extent, things will get smaller-more regional.
One-Way: What are you doing career wise and musically these days?
Alex: Musically, I am teaching my daughter drums, and I play drums on a worship team at church. I now work independently as a marketing and product consultant/developer for a variety of labels.
One-Way: Do you have any special hobbies or interests?
Alex: I like drinking coffee and talking to my wife.
One-Way: Any parting words for our readers?
Alex: Find out what gifting you possess makes your heart skip a beat, and see where God is using those talents.