A keyboardist and singer in the band Cherokee, this artist should not be confused with several musicians named Bobby Donaldson, one a jazz drummer and the other a guitarist and producer in the beach music genre. Robert Donaldson is already crowded out enough by his brothers: the front line of Cherokee consisted of David Donaldson and George Donaldson. These bros were almost constantly drowning out the keyboards, something they were able to accomplish in several different ways as they each played electric guitar as well as harmonica and guitar, respectively.
The band itself is not that well known; in fact, its name is most likely to be mistaken for the title of a bebop tune. Some listeners may come across the band's self-titled album in the search for spin-off projects relating to various members of the Byrds. Violinist Gib Guilbeau, bassist and mandolinist Chris Hillman, and the fine pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow all play on this record. As attractive as this branch of American folk-rock vegetation is, the legacy of Donaldson actually deserves its own share of attention. By the time Cherokee came along, the brothers had already been performing for more than a decade, having gone through the imagined series of band names and even a set of kooky personal aliases.
The Donaldson brothers and drummer Craig Krampf, who also played in Cherokee, gelled in the '60s with a group called the Robbs, at the time considered Milwaukee's answer to the Monkees or Paul Revere & the Raiders. Krampf became Craig Robb. Robert Donaldson was Bruce Robb. George Donaldson was Joe Robb, and so forth. Somehow the guitarist Dick Gonia kept his own name, robbed of his right to be a Robb. Other drummers that wandered in and out of the group kept their own names, some such as Salvatore Peplinski for obvious reasons. The Robbs was the subject of an essay in the book Do You Hear That Beat by Gary Myers.