Musician Ian McDonald, a founding member of the bands King Crimson and Foreigner, has died at the age of 75.
McDonald co-wrote and played the keyboards and saxophone that were at the heart of King Crimson’s debut album In the Court of the Crimson King.
Rolling Stone described the 1969 LP as “prog rock’s big bang”.
He then formed Foreigner, with whom he also played guitar on classic songs like Cold As Ice, Feels Like The First Time and Double Vision in the late 70s.
But the Middlesex-born musician left before the group went on to enjoy hits in the 80s with Waiting for a Girl Like You and I Want to Know What Love Is.
As a session musician, McDonald also played on records including the T. Rex album Electric Warrior, including the hit Get It On.
Foreigner co-founder Al Greenwood was among those paying tribute, writing: “He was like a brother to me. 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.”
McDonald had been suffering from cancer, according to his son Max. “He was incredibly brave, and never lost his kindness or his sense of humour even when the going was rough,” he wrote on Facebook.
“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.”
US guitarist Steve Stevens recalled King Crimson’s debut as “the most important recording in progressive rock”, which was “at times dissonant chaos followed by aching beauty”.
Sid Smith, who wrote the book In The Court of King Crimson, tweeted that McDonald’s “contribution to King Crimson was invaluable and profound”.
The trailer for a new documentary about the band was released just last week, with McDonald seen apologising to co-founder Robert Fripp for leaving after their debut.