Ian McDonald, Founding Member of Foreigner, Has Died at 75

by Maggie Schneider

Ian McDonald, the multi-instrumentalist and founding member of Foreigner, has passed away at 75 years old. The classic rocker died peacefully in his New York City home on February 9, 2022.

McDonald is known for leading both King Crimson and Foreigner to success. He co-founded King Crimson in 1968, playing nine instruments on the band’s debut LP, In the Court of the Crimson King. His expertise as both a musician and producer made the band stand out from many others in the prog-rock space.

“When we made it — and I was basically at the forefront of the production — I wanted to make sure if I could deliver everything that went into the record would bear repeated listening and hopefully stand the test of time,” he said in an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock.

From ‘King Crimson’ to ‘Foreigner’

After King Crimson, McDonald went on to start his new project, Foreigner. Fans remember the band’s initial lineup fondly. Mick Jones, Lou Gramm, Dennis Elliott, Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi all worked with Ian MacDonald on the band’s strong introduction. MacDonald plays rhythm guitar, keys, and woodwinds on the band’s first three records. Fans can hear his work on songs such as “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold As Ice.”

The musician worked with the band through their first three releases, all of which are now multi-platinum records. After a good run, MacDonald left the band in 1980 to pursue other projects. He became a session musician for many various acts, including Asia and T. Rex. He also was a part of a few Foreigner reunion shows in 2017 and 2018.

Ian MacDonald will be missed by both family and music fans alike. Catch a clip of Foreigner’s original lineup performing “Hot Blooded” in 1978 below.

The ‘Foreigner’ Musician’s Thoughts on The Beatles

In a 2019 interview, Ian MacDonald sat down with SuproUSA to talk about his musical journey. He also shares his thoughts on progressive rock as a genre. He says that The Beatles played a key role in changing music for good.

“We’ve [King Crimson] been labeled as the original prog-rock band, you know I don’t know about that,” he began. “But I do know that music was expanding. Hearing the song ‘Yesterday’ [The Beatles] for the first time, to me that was the birth of so-called ‘progressive rock,’ because it was like a voice and a string quartet from a standard sort of rock band liner. I realized hearing that that something new was opening up.”

What do you think about MacDonald’s takes on rock music? Watch the full clip below and let us know your thoughts on social media.