O R E I G N E R
JONES: Guitar / Piano / Background Vocals
LOU GRAMM: Lead Vocals / Background Vocals
BRUCE TURGON: Bass Guitar Background Vocals
JEFF JACOBS: Piano / Organ / Keyboards / Vocals
THOM GIMBEL: Sax/ Guitar
MARK SCHULMAN: Drums
the Los Angeles riots in the spring of 1992, while one war was
breaking out in the streets of America's largest city, another
war was ending. Inside the confines of the Sunset Marquis hotel
in downtown LA, singer Lou Gramm and guitarist Mick Jones were
sequestered due to a city curfew. They decided to use their time
together putting a two year feud to rest and resurrecting their
platinum act, Foreigner.
flew to Los Angeles, during the riots," says Gramm. "We
got flown to John Wayne airport instead of LAX because they were
shooting at the planes. Mick and I were holed up in the Sunset
Marquis in LA, with armed security guards walking around on the
roof. It was a little weird, to say the least."
a soft-spoken, but hard rockin' vocalist from Rochester, NY and
Jones, a British guitarist who has also established himself as
a producer for the likes of Billy Joel, Van Halen, Bad Company
and others, decided to bury the hatchet and revive one of the
world's best loved rock'n'roll bands.
Lou and I met in Los Angeles that's what it was all about, "
says Mick Jones. " We had to see if we could put the rough
patch beyond us and talk things out. Which, fortunately, we did."
Today, Foreigner is back again, this time with a leaner line-up
and slightly harder edge to its music. Six years after their LA
peace talks, several tours, and the release of a greatest hits,
live album and a new album of studio recordings entitled Mr. Moonlight,
Foreigner is going stronger than ever, despite a life threatening
illness that afflicted singer Lou Gramm a day before the band
was leaving for its 1997 tour of Japan.
American tour marks the return to public life of lead singer Lou
Gramm, who has spent the last year recuperating in Upstate New
York after the removal of a benign brain tumor. Lou was diagnosed
in April 1997, with the tumor, just one day before the band was
set to leave for a tour of Japan.
tumor was removed by surgery, which was followed by a year of
rehabilitation at his home and a concentrated period of radiation
treatment at Boston's Brigham & Woman's Hospital, under the
care of Dr. Peter Black earlier this year.
tumor was non-cancerous," says Lou, "but it was certainly
life threatening. It was growing adjacent to my optic nerve in
the base of my brain and it was blocking the signals my brain
was sending out to my body. I was losing my memory, getting headaches
and seeing with double vision. Fortunately, everything turned
out OK, and I'm back to work with the band. I'm very grateful
to the Lord, my wife and family, and all my friends, who got me
through this difficult time."
and raised in England, Mick Jones began his musical career as
the "24th guitar player" in a unit known as Nero and
the Gladiators. He wrote songs and played sessions for French
pop idol Johnny Halliday and recorded with such artists as George
Harrison and Peter Frampton. Jones formed Wonderwheel with Gary
Wright and they eventually reformed noted U.K. band, Spooky Tooth.
In 1974, he moved to New York; Spooky Tooth broke up, and Jones
went on to serve as A&R rep for a British record company.
He assembled Foreigner in 1976.
Jones had dreamed of forming his own unique synthesis of rock,
progressive and R&B elements since his days touring as a support
act for the Beatles, whose luminous energy literally moved the
young Englishman to tears. He joined forces with ex-King Crimson
hornsman Ian McDonald and a soulful vocalist named Lou Gramm,
ace British drummer Dennis Elliot (formerly with If and Ian Hunter),
and New Yorkers Al Greenwood (keyboards) and Ed Gagliardi (bass)
Gramm was born and raised in Rochester, New York. He formed the
group Black Sheep in 1971, initially handling both vocals and
drums. Black Sheep released two albums in the mid-70's and these
discs attracted the attention of Mick Jones who invited Gramm
to try out for a new (as yet unnamed) band he was forming in 1976.
Gramm became a founding member of the band that was eventually
named Foreigner. The tape of Lou Gramm's very first audition served
as a demo which helped the group make the connection to Atlantic
Gramm/Jones writing chemistry clicked immediately. The driving
"Cold As Ice" became the first of their hybrid collaborations.
self-titled debut album was released in 1977. Foreigner went on
to cross the quadruple platinum sales mark. During its two year
run on the national charts, the hits kept coming, beginning with
"Feels Like The First Time" and continuing with "Cold
As Ice" and "Long, Long Way From Home." At the
end of 1977, Foreigner walked away with the #1 spot in every major
consumer and trade publication.
next year they road tested the verse and chorus of "Hot Blooded"
before a few hundred thousand close friends at the Cal Jam II
Festival. Their enthusiastic response to the crunch and grind
of this worthy successor to the "Honky Tonk Women" /
"All Right Now" tradition assured its place on the next
album, Double Vision.
Vision, was released in 1978. Shipping platinum, it surpassed
its predecessor with more than five million albums sold in the
U.S, alone. It remained in the Top Ten for six months and became
the #1-selling rock 'n' roll album of the year. Two gold-selling
singles were released from Double Vision -- "Hot Blooded"
and the album title track.
released their third album, Head Games, in 1979. Again, it was
a multi-platinum success, producing the hit singles, "Dirty
White Boy" and "Head Games." Foreigner then went
back to basics with Head Games , which Gramm refers to as their
"grainiest" effort. It also marked the band's first
personnel change, when Rick Wills (ex-Peter Frampton and Roxy
Music, among many others) became Foreigner's new bassist.
the band knew a quantum leap was needed. With the help of producer
Mutt Lange and synth-texturalist Thomas Dolby, they entered their
second "fertile" period with 4, which found the band
streamlined to the quartet of Jones, Gramm, Elliot and Wills.
The album was highlighted by the pulsating roar of "Jukebox
Hero" and the churning, futuristic hyper-funk of "Urgent"
which included the critically acclaimed soaring sax solo of Junior
marked the release of their next album of new material, Agent
Provocateur which debuted one of Foreigner's most enduring and
remarkable ballads. Mick Jones went through a period of earnest
soul-searching about his life and relationships that resulted
in the words and music to the magnificent "I Want to Know
What Love Is", which Gramm drives home with heartfelt intensity.
who had snubbed Foreigner early on, halted the recording of his
Blue Turtles album one afternoon to find out just who had created
this irresistible cry from the heart.Bringing the energy of rock
face to face with the emotional/spiritual power of gospel, the
single featured the extraordinary talents of Jennifer Holiday
and the New Jersey Mass Choir. This #1 single was also the subject
of Foreigner's first full-scale video production.
1985, Foreigner also embarked on a nine-month world tour. Wrapping
up two years of virtual non-stop activity, they took a break in
1986. During this hiatus, Mick Jones co-produced Van Halen's smash,
5150 album and served executive producer of the re-formed Bad
Company's Fame and Fortune project. Lou Gramm also released his
debut solo album, Ready Or Not, in 1987, which featured the hit
single, "Midnight Blue."
1987 Foreigner returned to the studio to record Inside Information
, marking the first album to be produced solely by Mick Jones.
The album delivered two hits for the group, "Say You Will"
and "I Don't Want To Live Without You"
then, the band shifted its musical focus from uptempo rockers
to more commercial "power ballads." His solo album yielded
a Top 10 hit, but Gramm was not able to actively tour as a solo
act because of the continual demands of Foreigner. When Gramm
saw this change in direction, and the restrictions on his own
career, problems within the group began.
had felt the creative equity had diminished as we went along,"
says Gramm. "It was very open in the beginning for the first
three or four albums. But at one point, I felt my input diminishing,
I felt my ideas weren't good enough. It was a confidence shaking.
I questioned my own validity, and at the same time I was losing
interest in the direction of the music of the band. It was going
some place that I didn't want to go...and I was powerless to do
anything about it. "
if the rest of the band had fought harder to keep the band's music
harder, there was no arguing with the success of the ballads.
Wherever the bread was buttered, people were content to be of
that frame of mind...me, aside. There was no rockin' the boat."
rockin' the boat came when Gramm' s solo career was perceived
as a threat to the band. He and Jones began arguing and, in 1989,
Gramm left the group to form another band called Shadow King.
in turn, replaced Gramm with an unknown singer and carried on.
Neither band, however, saw much commercial success and both groups
broke up in 1991.
meeting two regroup came about as the result of an effort by Atlantic
Records, Foreigner's then-label, who were eager to see the two
main members of the group reunite when a European release of their
greatest hits sold nearly 700,000 copies in 1991.
asked me if I would be interested in either working on some tracks
that we had in the can that would be included in a U.S. released
Best Of compilation, or possibly, writing some new tracks.....
with no strings attached. And I figured it would be something
interesting, to see how it goes."
was a real interesting premise for a discussion," adds Gramm.
"It was like a couple secret agents meeting behind enemy
lines. We talked about old times, we talked about why things had
gone astray. The direction of the band, and creative input. We
both had a lot of things to say, but we didn't talk at each other...we
listened. And a lot of things were understood. We had two years
without being in each other's face to talk about how things had
been different if we had handled it different. Maybe that time
apart was the best for us. We had a chance to try things that
we normally wouldn't have done."
was just like talking to a brother or a friend again," recollects
Gramm. "It was less getting down to business and more talking
about old times." Jones concurs. "I was upset about
the split -- we both were -- I think we've realized that the partnership
we had between us is one of those rare things. We both felt that
we had some unfinished business together.
ineffable chemistry drew them back together to create the three
new tracks Foreigner...The Very best And Beyond, released in 1992.
Instead of tired retreads, these tunes are recognizable Foreigner
and yet vibrantly grounded in the present moment. "With Heaven
On Our Side" a track that further refined the intricacies
of the ballad form, as Lou's ever maturing voice explored its
lower registers. "Prisoner of Love" which had the textural
feeling of "progressive" Foreigner, and "Soul Doctor"
simply the hottest rocker they'd recorded with Mick's Beatlesque
riffing and modern voicings on guitar, up to that point.
went back on the road, had a blast and sold out everywhere and
decided it was time get the band back in the studio
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, in 1994, Foreigner proved
what a great rock and roll band can do with a few years downtime
and some creative reassessment. Plunging back into the rock arena
Mr. Moonlight, the band's first album reuniting guitarist Mick
Jones and vocalist Lou Gramm since 1987, Foreigner kicked into
the Nineties with unleashed abandon and ferocity-- and what may
well be their strongest album ever in a long line of multi-platinum
Moonlight became the first step in solidifying that unfinished
business. For this album, they decided to bring fresh blood into
the band and came up with a formidable lineup of backing musicians.
Bass player Bruce Turgon who had worked with Gramm for years on
solo projects and was a member of Gramm's early band, Black Sheep.
Also on board: keyboardist Jeff Jacobs who worked with Jones when
he was producing Bill Joel's award winning multiplatinum Stormfront
of the high points of Mr. Moonlight for Jones ("a childhood
fantasy come true") was having the chance to work with Duanne
Eddy in Nashville on the song "Until The End of Time."
"I think the last time something like that happened was when
Junior Walker played on "Urgent", says Jones. "It
turned out to be a beautiful song."
band was just about to leave for a tour of Japan in the spring
of 1997, when Gramm was diagnosed with his brain tumor.
surviving a dangerous operation, Gramm spent a year recuperating,
although he never stopped working with Mick Jones on songwriting
for the new album.
completion of a 1999 summer tour with Journey, Foreigner will
resume work on the new studio album, which many insiders feel
will be their strongest since Foreigner IV.
"It's the beginning again," says Jones, who created
the band in 1976, "and we're focusing on what we want to
achieve in this decade."
Two years since the phenomenal "arrival" of Foreigner,
the group has maintained a standard of musical quality and a level
of popular approval of equally enviable proportions. Their unprecedented
string of hits have become rock classics. While forging an unmistakable
"Foreigner sound," they have also taken risks and weathered
changes that would have fatally undermined most top-ranked units.
Listeners around the world have endorsed the band's progress with
outstanding sales -- a global total currently well in excess of
30 million records. Their sold-out concerts continue to be testimony
to their stature as one of the best live rock bands in the business.
in 1999, Foreigner has emerged stronger than ever.
still a market there for Foreigner," says Jones. "There's
people who grew up with us and I think there's a respect from
the young people who know we've been true to our roots. If people
remain genuine, they'll survive. And we plan on doing that."
* * * *
Written and/or edited from existing bios by Bruce Pilato. 1998