The multi-instrumentalist and a founding member of King Crimson, Ian McDonald was born today, on 25th of June 2020.
Apart from King Crimson, he is also known as a founding member of Foreigner and a session saxophonist. But he also plays keyboards, clarinet, flute, vibraphone and guitar. This range of musical instruments came from his capability in many forms of music, ranging from classical orchestra to dance bands and finally to rock. Originally born in Middlesex, England, he served five years in the British Army as a bandsman.
Though his name was only associated with King Crimson for an album (and some composition credits in their second album), his influence in the sound that we now call the birth of progressive rock is undeniable. ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ is a milestone in musical expression and boundaries, thanks to McDonald’s contributions. In order to achieve the iconic orchestral and rich sounds on the album, Ian McDonald spent many hours overdubbing layers of Mellotron, other keyboards and various woodwind and reed instruments.
“I think the driving force was Ian McDonald, really,” poet Peter Sinfield said in an interview with Louder. “Greg wasn’t really capable enough as a musician, or even as a writer. Not that he didn’t contribute anything at all, because obviously he did. Fripp was very steady and Robert-ish. Michael Giles always wanted to do it as difficult as possible and as jazzy as possible. Ian was the one who just wanted to do anything that we could possibly do within the scope and yet still have people listen to it.”
Today, on his birthday, we want to celebrate his remarkable contributions to progressive rock and music in general.