Foreigner

  • New York city based rock band formed in 1976. The original members were Americans Lou Gramm (lead vocals), Ed Gagliardi (bass guitar) and Al Greenwood (keyboards), along with Brits Mick Jones (guitar, vocals), Ian McDonald (guitar, saxophone), and Dennis Elliott (drums).
  • The band started when Mick Jones’ previous band, The Leslie West Band, broke up. The manager of that band encouraged Jones to continue writing songs, and to form a new band. He started jamming with several musicians, including Greenwood. After some sessions with potential members, Jones connected with McDonald and Elliott. He searched for a lead vocalist for some time, auditioning over 40 singers, but he could not find the sound he wanted. When the band Black Sheep broke up, the lead singer Lou Gramm became available, and Jones invited him to join. Finally, Gagliardi was chosen to play bass, and the band was formed.
  • Initially, they went with the name Trigger, and their demo tape identified them with that name. Only one record company showed interest, but they needed to change the name of the band, since Trigger was already taken. They chose Foreigner, since no matter where they played, there would be at least 3 foreigners on stage.
  • The band’s debut album, the self titled Foreigner, was released in 1977. It was a huge hit, selling over 5 million copies in the U.S. It included their first hits in a string of rock classics – Feels Like the First Time and Cold As Ice. Only 2 months after the album’s release, they were already headlining major arenas for their concerts. They were nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist – but lost to Debbie Boone. Seriously…Debbie Boone?!
  • Their second album in 1978 did even better, becoming their biggest selling album, selling 7 million records. Double Vision had 2 mega hits – the single titled Double Vision and Hot Blooded as well as Blue Morning, Blue Day which also hit the charts.
  • Their last album in the 70s, Head Games, continued their string of multi-platinum records, selling over 5 million copies. Two songs made it into the top 15 – the single Head Games and Dirty White Boy. 
  • By now, the band started to make changes to the band’s lineup. Gagliardi was replaced on bass, and McDonald and Greenwood were let go, leaving the band as a quartet, with session musicians added as needed for concerts and recordings.
  • Their 1981 album was their only album to peak at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Classic rock fans love this album – it contains the songs Juke Box Hero, Urgent and Waiting for a Girl Like You. 
  • Their last multi-platinum album was 1984’s Agent Provocateur. While the band had 4 #1 songs on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, they only had 1 #1 song on the Hot 100 chart – I Want to Know What Love Is, from this album.
  • Foreigner’s last album of the 80s, Inside Information, was the beginning of the end of their run of big sellers. Still, this album sold over 1 million copies, with 2 top 10 singles – Say You Will and I Don’t Want to Live Without You. 
  • By 1990, Gramm was focusing on a solo career, and he left the band. One album was released with a new lead singer, which did not do well. Gramm returned in 1992, and in 1994, another album was released, which also sold poorly. Gramm left again in 2002. One final studio album was released, in 2009.
  • Foreigner continues to tour extensively – a very popular nostalgia band for the baby boomers, as well as younger music lovers that have learned to love rock from the 70s and 80s. Recent concerts have included some of the original members participating in the encores.
  • From a classic rock perspective, Foreigner is solid – I count at least 10 songs that are legitimate to be called classic rock. Looking at clips on YouTube, I needed to find something that includes Lou Gramm – this man is one of the best rock vocalists ever. Check out Feels Like the First Time. 

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