Ian McDonald, founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner, dead at 75

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Ian McDonald, a multi-instrumentalist and founding member of King Crimson and Foreigner, has died at the age of 75.

The rocker “passed away peacefully on February 9, 2022 in his home in New York City, surrounded by his family,” according to a press release. A cause of death was not given.

McDonald co-founded King Crimson in 1968, alongside Robert Fripp, Michael Giles, Greg Lake and lyricist Peter Sinfield. He contributed saxophone, flute, clarinet, Mellotron, harpsichord, piano, organ, vibraphone, the band’s influential debut album In the Court of the Crimson King, as well as backing vocals and production. McDonald left the band after their first U.S. tour in 1969, although he later contributed sax to two songs from the group’s 1974 album, Red.

In 1976, Ian became a founding member of Foreigner, joining guitarist Mick Jones, singer Lou Gramm, drummer Dennis Elliott, keyboardist Al Greenwood and bassist Ed Gagliardi. McDonald played on the band’s first three albums: Foreigner, Double Vision and Head Games, all of which went platinum, and produced such classic songs as “Feels Like the First Time,” “Cold as Ice,” “Hot Blooded” and “Double Vision.”

McDonald also took part in several Foreigner reunion concerts alongside the band’s other surviving original members in 2017 and 2018.

McDonald was also an in-demand session musician, playing on numerous recordings by the likes of T. Rex, Steve Hackett and Asia. Notably, he played saxophone of T. Rex’s signature tune “Bang a Gong (Get It On).”

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