IAN McDONALD (25 June 1946 - 9 February 2022)
Following the release of McDonald And Giles, the pair went their separate ways. After appearances on records as diverse as T.Rex’s Electric Warrior, including the hit single Get It On, and, at the other end of the commercial spectrum, Septober Energy by Keith Tippett’s Centipede, McDonald went into production work including Canis Lupus by Darryl Way’s Wolf (1973). After McDonald’s guest spot on King Crimson’s Red, he went on to produce Fruup’s Modern Masquerades (1975) and American act Fireballet’s Night On Bald Mountain (1975).
Leaving the UK for the USA, McDonald settled in New York, teaming up with ex-Spooky Tooth guitarist Mick Jones and Ian Hunter associate drummer Dennis Elliot to help form Foreigner. Their 1977 self-titled debut was largely ignored in the then punk-fevered UK. However, the album went platinum in the US and Canada and a string of hit singles assured their success on the radio. McDonald co-produced the group’s first three albums, 1977’s Foreigner, 1978’s Double Vision, and 1979’s Head Games remaining a member until he was ousted in 1981, a victim of the band’s internecine politics. Happily, in later years there was a rapprochement between McDonald and Mick Jones.
After taking part in the Epitaph playbacks in London and New York in 1997, he teamed up with Steve Hackett in 1999 alongside John Wetton to play a series of gigs in Japan with a line-up that also included drummer Chester Thompson. The resulting album, The Tokyo Tapes, had McDonald revisiting The Court Of The Crimson King and I Talk To The Wind as well as material from Genesis and Asia and the solo album catalogues of Wetton and Hackett. McDonald released his first solo album, Drivers Eyes via Hackett's Camino label. With a broad range of styles that reflected McDonald’s wider musical interests, the album briefly reunited McDonald and Giles on Demimonde. Further ties to his past were found on Let There Be Light, which echoed early Crimson’s stately grandeur with lyrics by Peter Sinfield. McDonald wanted Greg Lake to sing but when Lake was unavailable the song was performed by Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker.
In 2002, McDonald joined Peter and Michael Giles, Mel Collins, and Jakko Jakszyk in the 21st Century Schizoid Band. Performing King Crimson’s music from In The Court Of The Crimson King to Red, the band also played Let There Be Light and part of the Birdman Suite from McDonald And Giles. In 2011, McDonald began an association with actor and singer Ted Zurkowski, scoring music for Zurkowski’s productions of Shakespeare’s plays – which led to McDonald joining Zurkowski’s group Honey West and resulted in their 2017 debut, Bad Old World. Ian's death from cancer in New York was announced by his family. He was 75.
Ian McDonald with Giles, Giles and Fripp
The Brondesbury Tapes / Metaphormosis
Ian McDonald with King Crimson
In The Court Of The Crimson King
The Young Person's Guide To King Crimson
In The Court Of The Crimson King 40th-anniversary box set
The Complete 1969 Recordings