Ian McDonald, co-founder of influential progressive rock band King Crimson and later Foreigner, has died aged 75.
The multi-instrumentalist, originally from in Osterley in Middlesex, died on Thursday after suffering from cancer, his son Max said in a statement.
He said: “I’m deeply saddened to tell you that my father 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.
I’m really sad to hear the news of Ian McDonald’s passing. He was a great friend and an incredible musician / songwriter. He will be very much missed.
— Steve Hackett (@HackettOfficial) February 11, 2022
“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. Thank you all.”
As part of King Crimson, McDonald helped define the burgeoning progressive rock sound of the late 1960s, playing saxophone, flute, guitar and vibraphone across tracks such as 21st Century Schizoid Man and Starless.
Their debut album released in 1969, In The Court Of The Crimson King, combined genres as varied as folk, jazz, classical and symphonic music and won fans such as Pete Townshend of The Who.
The band’s original line-up split later that year, with McDonald and drummer Michael Giles releasing one album together exploring a brighter and more pop-orientated sound.
McDonald briefly rejoined King Crimson in 1974 before guitarist Robert Fripp put the band on hiatus.
In 1976, McDonald formed Foreigner with British guitarist Mick Jones and American singer Lou Gramm in a departure from his experimental roots.
He appeared on their first three albums, which all charted within the top 10 in America, delivering a more commercial style of hard rock, but was fired in 1980 as Jones sought to establish greater creative control over the sound.
He also worked as a session musician on hit releases such as Get It On by T Rex.
Kanye West sampled the King Crimson track 21st Century Schizoid Man on his 2010 single Power, introducing a new generation to the band.
Former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett, who first met McDonald around 1970 and worked with him across the years, was among those paying tribute.
He said: “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.”