Ian McDonald Has Passed Away at 75 – Founding Member of King Crimson & Foreigner

Ian McDonald death dies
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Ian McDonald death dies
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Photo Credit: Richard Bourgerie / CC by 2.0

English musician Ian McDonald has passed away at age 75 after a battle with cancer.

The multi-instrumentalist is best known as a founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner. His son Maxwell announced his death on social media. McDonald was an original member of King Crimson, founded in 1969. The band appeared alongside the Rolling Stones in a concert in Hyde Park in July of 1969, with their debut album dropping later that year.

After the group broke up, McDonald found work as a session musician. He appeared on T. Rex’s 1971 album Electric Warrior and its breakout hit, “Bang a Gong (Get It On).” In 1976, McDonald co-founded the band Foreigner with guitarist Mick Jones and singer Lou Gramm. The group found huge commercial success throughout the world, with McDonald appearing on the band’s first three albums. McDonald was fired from the band in 1980.

“I wouldn’t have left,” McDonald told Big Bang Magazine at the time. “I loved the group, it was not my decision.” Despite departing Foreigner, McDonald did occasionally play with the band again at reunion shows. Between his work with King Crimson and Foreigner, McDonald appeared on four of the biggest-selling albums of the ’70s decade.

Ian McDonald was a multi-talented musician known for playing saxophone, flute, keyboards, and other instruments. McDonald spoke about his musical influences like Les Paul and Mary Ford.

“We had a record player, and thinking about it, I’m really glad. We had Les Paul and Mary Ford records and classical records and things like Scheherazade and things like that, so I did grow up listening to music,” McDonald says in an interview.

“When rock & roll appeared, I got really interested and decided that’s what I wanted to do. People like Chuck Berry and Little Richard and others like Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, and even Ricky Nelson. I got interested from that point of view, and then, of course the Beatles came along, and I was about sixteen years old – that was it.”

McDonald released his first solo album, Driver’s Eyes in 1999. The album features contributions from Peter Frampton and Steve Hackett. In 2017, McDonald formed the band Honey West with his son Maxwell.