Ian McDonald, founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner, has died

The multi-instrumentalist died in his home of New York City at the age of 75.

Ian McDonald

Image: Steve Morley/Redferns

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Ian McDonald, founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner, has died. He was 75.

A press release confirmed the news of the English multi-instrumentalist’s death, stating that he “passed away peacefully on 9 February 2022 in his home in New York City, surrounded by his family”.

According to McDonald’s son Max, he passed away from cancer. In a note left on a fan page on Facebook yesterday  (10 February), Max wrote: “I’m deeply saddened to tell you that my father has passed away yesterday from cancer.

“He was incredibly brave, and never lost his kindness or his sense of humour even when the going was rough. 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.”

Al Greenwood, the founding keyboardist of Foreigner, has paid tribute to his former bandmate on social media. “He was like a brother to me,” he wrote. “A true musical genius, Ian’s musicianship was an integral part of launching both King Crimson and Foreigner into legendary status. His contribution to Foreigner’s success was immense. Ian was a dear friend, a kind and wonderful man, and I will miss him terribly.”

My bandmate and close friend Ian McDonald passed away peacefully yesterday. He was like a brother to me. A true musical…

Posted by Al Greenwood on Thursday, February 10, 2022

McDonald was part of King Crimson’s first line-up, in 1968, alongside Robert Fripp, Michael Giles, Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield, playing flute, keyboards, woodwinds and more on the band’s prog rock classic In The Court Of The Crimson King.

McDonald, along with drummer Michael Giles, departed the band in 1969, though McDonald later contributed to the group’s 1974 album Red. Fripp disbanded King Crimson later that year.

In 1976, McDonald co-founded the band Foreigner, playing guitar, keys and woodwinds. He left the band four years after but occasionally appeared with them as a special guest at anniversary events and reunion shows.

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