Foreigner

1976-
Mick JonesGuitar, vocals1976-
Lou GrammVocals1976-1991; 1992-
Ian McDonaldFlute, keyboards, reeds, guitar, vocals1976-1980
Al GreenwoodKeyboards, synthesizers1976-1980
Ed GagliardiBass1976-1979
Dennis ElliotDrums1976-1992
Rick WillsBass1979-1992
Johnny EdwardsVocals1991-1993
Mark SchulmanDrums1993-1995, 2000-2002
Jeff JacobsKeyboards1994-
Bruce TargonBass1994-
Jason BonhamDrums2006-2008
Jeff PilsonBass2004-
Kelly Hansen Vocals2005-
Thom Gimbel Guitar, flute, saxophone1992, 1995-

Foreigner Artistfacts

  • Not the same Mick Jones from the Clash, this one played with Nero and the Gladiators, which had British success. He also worked with French star Johnny Hallyday and Spooky Tooth.
  • Jones and Gramm wrote most of their songs together. They had a very fruitful songwriting partnership, with each bringing a range of musical influences to their compositions. Their songs typically deal with relationships and feelings, staying clear of politics or any kind of social commentary.

    In 2013, they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, where they performed Jones and Gramm performed together for the first time since 2003.
  • Gramm had been the lead singer of Black Sheep, a Free and Bad Company cover band based in upstate New York; Wills had played with Peter Frampton, Small Faces, and Roxy Music. McDonald had played with King Crimson.
  • In his Songfacts interview, Lou Gramm explained their philosophy on writing songs: "We try to make things simple, catchy, and timeless."
  • After leaving Foreigner, Gagliardi and Greenwood formed a short-lived band called Spys.
  • Jones produced much of the band's material, and also did production work for other artists. He co-produced Billy Joel's 1989 Storm Front album with Joel, and produced Van Halen's 5150, their first with lead singer Sammy Hagar. In our interview with Jones, he said that his main contribution to that album was drawing stirring vocal performances out of Hagar.
  • The name of the band came from the fact that half the members were from England and half from the US. No matter where they were, someone would always be considered a foreigner.
  • In 1997, lead singer Lou Gramm was diagnosed with a non-cancerous but life threatening brain tumor called a craniopharyngioma. Most of the tumor was removed in delicate laser surgery, but it took a toll on Gramm, who had to take a wide range of medications and could only perform in a limited capacity. In 2003, he and the band parted ways.
  • Foreigner has dissolved and re-formed several times over the years. Mick Jones is the only original member of the band who has remained with the group since the beginning. Their last studio album with Gramm was 1994's Mr. Moonlight. In 2006, they released an album of live performances called Extended Versions, which was recorded in Las Vegas during their 2005 tour. In 2009, they released a new album called Can't Slow Down with lead singer Kelly Hansen.
  • Their 1981 album 4 was a staggering success, spending 10 weeks at #1 in the US. Mutt Lange, who had recently worked on AC/DC's Back In Black, co-produced 4 with Mick Jones. The sessions were not always smooth, as Lou Gramm made it very clear that he didn't want Lange to rehash the same production elements he employed with AC/DC.
  • Jason Bonham, who is the son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, claimed he left the band to spend more time with his family. This sparked rumors that he would tour with a re-formed Zeppelin. In August, 2008, Bonham told the Detroit radio station WCSX that he was doing some work with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 3
  • Lou Gramm's father, Bennie Grammatico, was a band leader and trumpeter and his mother Nikki (Masetta), a singer in Bennie's Big Band.

Comments: 5

  • Randy from Fayettevile, ArWhen I was a kid, I recall that Foreigner was BIG. My older brothers were fans before I was. I absolutely go wild over the sax break by Jr. Walker in "Urgent." In early 2014, Rhino & Atlantic Records have recently released a box-set of Foreigner's biggest 5 albums & the sound is fantastic! I didn't know they sold over 50 million records, until I read it in Songfacts.com, but hey, it's still a lotta records. And count me in with the millions of fans who still love their music!
  • Raunchy from Tulsa, OkI'm a Foreigner fan from way back. They performed a medley of their big hits on Jay Leno's Tonight Show on January 16, 2014 the other night. It was awesome! They were really tight. And I hear that they are going on tour again this year (2014). What a band!
  • Don from Atlanta, GaI think the great sax solo on Urgent was done by Junior Walker (from Junior Walker and the All-Stars). He was a guest musician who nailed it on the first take.
    -Don Jr., Atlanta, GA
  • Nate from Fort Collins, CoJones grew up in England and spent much of his adult life working and supporting and touring in bands outside his home country. This is the reason the band is called Foreigner, he has spent so much time abroad that he feels like a foreigner.
  • Janet from Perth, AustraliaLou Gramm has a great voice and "Urgent" is a great song.
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