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John H. Slate

Mikey Donaldson
Mikey Donaldson (right), a founder and bassist of the Offenders, was heralded in the punk metal subgenre for his aggressive speed-picking style and liberal use of bass chords. Photograph by John H. Slate.

DONALDSON, MIKEY (1961–2007). Michael (Mikey) Naohiko Donaldson, electric bass guitarist, was born on October 10, 1961, to Tokiko and Joseph Donaldson. Donaldson, the son of a military family, grew up in Killeen and attended the public schools there. He graduated in 1978 from C.E. Ellison High School. A voracious fan of both heavy metal and punk rock music genres, Donaldson took up the bass guitar in high school and was entirely self-taught. Deeply influenced by British bassists Lemmy Kilmister (founder of Motörhead) and Jack Bruce (founder of Cream), he developed a distinctive personal style that was fueled by the then-new hardcore punk and speed metal genres.

Donaldson formed the Offenders in Killeen with Patrick Doyle and Tony Johnson in late 1978. They soon hired Michael “Mick” Buck in the band. Donaldson and the Offenders moved to Austin by 1980 and were active in the Austin punk rock music scene from 1980 to their breakup in 1986. The recordings of the Offenders included the LPs We Must Rebel (1983) and Endless Struggle (1985). Donaldson frequently substituted in bands, performing regularly with Austin and San Francisco’s Millions of Dead Cops (MDC) in the early 1980s, and collaborated in a number of sideline projects, including the 1985 album Dealing With It! by the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (D.R.I.).

Following the Offenders, Donaldson moved to San Francisco in 1986 and briefly joined Sister Double Happiness before dropping out of the music world and developing a severe drug addiction. After a period of recovery he returned to Austin and reunited with the Offenders for a show in March 2002. In 2003 Donaldson rejoined MDC, recorded an album with them, and toured worldwide until his death in 2007.

Proud of his Japanese-American heritage, Donaldson was widely regarded in the punk and metal worlds as a master bassist and pioneered an aggressive speed-picking style and employed liberal use of bass chords. His work was praised in numerous music magazines, and his influence on the metal and punk genres merited a memorial notice on the MTV music channel upon his death announcement.

Besides Killeen, Austin, and San Francisco, Donaldson lived in Amsterdam, Holland, from 2003 to 2006 and in Barcelona, Spain, from 2006 to 2007. Donaldson was not married and had no children. He died in Barcelona, Spain, on September 22, 2007, in his sleep. His ashes were later interred at Forest Oaks Cemetery in Austin.


Austin American–Statesman, September 27, 2007. “Former The Offenders/MDC bassist Mikey Donaldson dead at 46,” Blabbermouth.net (http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=81675) accessed January 12, 2011.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, John H. Slate, "DONALDSON, MIKEY," accessed June 02, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdo68.

Uploaded on June 26, 2014. Modified on September 13, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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