Foreigner’s 1977 debut album made Billboard’s Top 5 and sold over five million copies. A song that Mr. McDonald helped write, “Long, very far from home” became a Billboard Top 20 hit. He was co-producer on all three albums he recorded with Foreigner, including “Double Vision” (1978) and “Head Games” (1979).
Ian Richard McDonald was born on June 25, 1946 in Osterley, Middlesex, England to Keith McDonald, an architect, and Ada (May) McDonald, a housewife. His father played banjo and piano, and in a house full of music, Ian played guitar and piano.
His multi-instrumental approach widened at age 15, when he left school and joined the British Army as a musician. “I was taught clarinet, and from there I learned flute and saxophone,” he told Big Bang Magazine in 1999. “I was exposed to a number of different musical styles.
After leaving the army and moving to London, he met Mr. Fripp, who had a fancy band called Giles, Giles and Fripp, including Michael Giles and his brother Pete. Mr. McDonald recorded songs with them before they became King Crimson, with vocalist and bassist Greg Lake replacing Pete Giles.
Almost immediately, a buzz developed around them, leading to an invitation to perform at a free London Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park; the event was originally intended to introduce new Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, but ended up serving as a salute to the musician he had replaced, Brian Jones, who had died two days earlier. Viewership estimates for the show range from 250,000 to 500,000. In 2013, The Guardian reported that “King Crimson nearly stole the show”.