Ian McDonald, King Crimson + Foreigner Co-Founder, Dead at 75
Ian McDonald, the English multi-instrumentalist best known as a co-founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner, died at 75 from cancer on Wednesday (Feb. 9) in New York City, as Rolling Stone reported.
McDonald played saxophone, keyboards, guitar, flute and vibraphone. He performed as a session musician on top of his tenures in King Crimson, who recruited him as their first keyboardist in 1969, and Foreigner, who he co-founded with guitarist Mick Jones in 1976.
McDonald plays sax on T. Rex's 1971 hit "Bang a Gong (Get It On)." He also contributed to recordings by Steve Hackett, John Wetton, Ian Lloyd, McDonald & Giles, the 21st Century Schizoid Band and several more. He released two solo albums in his lifetime.
McDonald's son Max wrote on Facebook, "I'm deeply saddened to tell you that my father passed away yesterday from cancer. He was incredibly brave, and never lost his kindness or his sense of humor even when the going was rough." [via Prog]
He added, "My father was a brilliant, intuitive musician, a gentle soul, and a wonderful dad. He will live on forever through his beautiful music and the love of his fans."
With Crimson, McDonald recorded the band's influential debut album, 1969's In the Court of the Crimson King, contributing sax, clarinet and more. It is widely seen as a defining document of early prog rock.
"When we made it, and I was basically at the forefront of the production, I wanted to make sure if I could deliver everything that went into the record would bear repeated listening and hopefully stand the test of time," McDonald said in a 2019 interview with UCR.
"Those early shows were fantastic," he continued. "They were a mixture of arranged songs and group improvisations. One of the songs, [Donovan's] 'Get Thy Bearings,' was a vehicle for improvisation. ... They could be quite adventurous, quite wild sometimes."
McDonald was born in England on June 25, 1946, and served for five years in the British Army. Loudwire sends condolences to McDonald's family, friends and fans. Hear clips and see video of McDonald performing with King Crimson and Foreigner below.