Ian McDonald, co-founder of King Crimson + Foreigner, dead at 75

Ian McDonald, the English multi-instrumentalist best known as a co-founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner, died at the age of 75 on Wednesday February 9 at his New York home, as reported by Rolling Stone . The cause of death was cancer.

McDonald played saxophone, keyboards, guitar, flute and vibraphone. He played as a session musician in addition to his tenures in King Crimson, which recruited him as their first keyboardist in 1969, and Foreigner, which he co-founded with guitarist Mick Jones in 1976.

McDonald plays sax on the 1971 T. Rex hit “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”. He has also contributed to recordings by Steve Hackett, John Wetton, Ian Lloyd, McDonald & Giles, the 21st Century Schizoid Band and many others. He released two solo albums during his lifetime.

A McDonald’s representative confirmed that the musician passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family. The musician’s son, Max, wrote on Facebook: “I am deeply saddened to announce that my father passed away yesterday from cancer. He was incredibly brave and never lost his kindness or sense of humor , even when things were tough.” [via Prog]

He added, “My father was a brilliant and intuitive musician, a gentle soul and a wonderful father. He will live forever on his beautiful music and the love of his fans. Thank you all.”

With King Crimson, McDonald recorded the band’s influential debut album, 1969 At the Court of the Crimson King, contribution sax, clarinet and more. It is widely considered a defining document of early progressive rock.

“When we did this, and I was basically at the forefront of production, I wanted to make sure that if I could deliver everything that was on the record, it would withstand repeated listening and hopefully the, would stand the test of time,” McDonald said in a 2019 interview with UCR.

“Those first 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, sometimes quite wild.”

McDonald was born in England on June 25, 1946 and served five years in the British Army. Loudwire sends its condolences to the family, friends and fans of McDonald’s. Listen to clips and watch video of McDonald performing with King Crimson and Foreigner below.

King Crimson, “the schizoid man of the 21st century”

King Crimson, “The Schizoid Man of the 21st Century” (Live at Hyde Park 1969)

Stranger, “Cold as Ice” (Live at the Rainbow ’78)

T. Rex, “Bang a Gong (Go Ahead)”

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