Ian McDonald, King Crimson and Foreigner Co-Founder, Dead at 75

    Ian McDonald, best known as the co-founder of King Crimson and Foreigner, has died at the age of 75. No cause of death was revealed, but a spokesperson for McDonald said that he “passed away peacefully on February 9, 2022 in his home in New York City, surrounded by his family.”

    McDonald was born in 1946 in Osterley, Middlesex, England. He served five years in the British Army, becoming a junior bandsman, and later a bandsman, while learning to read music and play the clarinet, saxophone, and flute. He went on to collaborate with Giles, Giles & Fripp, a trio featuring fellow Crimson co-founders Robert Fripp and Michael Giles, and McDonald’s jazz background influenced the early King Crimson sound; a part he wrote for the army band titled ‘Three Score and Four’ would be integrated into the midsection of ’21st Century Schizoid Man’. On the progressive band’s 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson KingMcDonald contributed saxophone, flute, clarinet, Mellotron, harpsichord, piano, organ, and vibraphone, as well as backing vocals and production. “Ian’s contribution to King Crimson was invaluable and profound,” read a statement on the website for the band’s record label, Discipline Global Mobile.

    In the 1970s, McDonald co-founded Foreigner with Mick Jones, Lou Gramm, Dennis Elliott, Al Greenwood, and Ed Gagliardi. He sang and played various instruments including rhythm guitar, woodwinds, and keys on the outfit’s first three albums – Foreigner (1977), Double Vision (1978), and Head Games (1979), all of which made the Top 10. In the following years, he continued his work as a session musician, playing with the likes of  T. Rex, Steve Hackett, and Asia. In 2002, he reunited with former King Crimson bandmate Michael Giles in the 21st Century Schizoid Band, and appeared live with Foreigner’s surviving original members in 2017 and 2018.

    Of his time in King Crimson, McDonald told Rolling Stone in 2019: “We were a good band, what can I say? It was really interesting music, and the live shows were a lot of fun. The improvisations, we just used to go off in really weird places and we’d support each other… We trusted each other.”

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

    Arts in one place.

    All of our content is free, if you would like to subscribe to our newsletter or even make a small donation, click the button below.

    People are Reading