Progressive rock veteran Ian McDonald, who helped co-found King Crimson and Foreigner, died on Wednesday (2/9). He was 75. Rolling Stone reports:
Ian McDonald, a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter best known for his co-founding roles in both King Crimson and Foreigner, died Wednesday at the age of 75. A rep for McDonald confirmed the musician’s death, adding that McDonald “passed away peacefully on February 9, 2022 in his home in New York City, surrounded by his family.” His son reported on Facebook that the cause was cancer.
McDonald was known as one of the key architects of progressive rock, playing both saxophone and keyboards in King Crimson and co-writing its iconic 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson King. The record’s opening track, “21st Century Schizoid Man,” featured McDonald’s wild double-tracked alto-sax solo, which he performed the same year at a famous concert in London’s Hyde Park. He left King Crimson before the year was over, moving on to a duo project with Crimson drummer Michael Giles. He would also appear as a session musician on King Crimson’s 1975 classic, Red.
Rolling Stone also points to a post on King Crimson's website, which reads, "Ian's contribution to King Crimson was invaluable and profound. Writing in the sleeve notes to the Epitaph box set in 1997, Robert Fripp noted, 'Ian brought musicality, an exceptional sense of the short and telling melodic line, and the ability to express that on a variety of instruments.'"
Fellow prog veteran Steve Hackett of Genesis also penned a tribute, which reads:
I'm incredibly sad to hear of Ian McDonald's passing. I've known him and admired his work ever since I was in the teens when I was totally bowled over by the King Crimson show at the Marquee in London. A song which Ian had a particularly strong hand in, Epitaph, has remained a firm favourite of mine throughout the years. Ian was both a fabulous composer and an amazing multi-instrumentalist. I have always been full of admiration for his solo work as well as everything he did with Crimson and Foreigner amongst others.
I first met him at Pye Studios, London at age twenty when I was working with Quiet World. Over the years we remained great friends and later on we worked together. In 1996 he joined me to play in Japan with a band including Chester Thompson, along with another close friend John Wetton who very sadly passed on in 2017. Ian and I have also played on each other's albums.
The last time I saw Ian was two years ago in his home city New York, just one week before the first big Lockdown. I was hoping to see him again soon and I will be very much thinking of him when I return to NYC in April.
My thoughts are very much with Ian's family at this time. I will miss him enormously. He was a wonderful person with a big heart and the most extraordinarily talented artist who I believe was hugely instrumental in giving birth to progressive music.
Rest in peace, Ian.