Dirty White Boy

Album: Head Games (1979)
Charted: 12

Songfacts®:

  • This song was written by Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones and lead singer Lou Gramm.

    Who was the "Dirty White Boy"? Jones told us: "It was Elvis Presley. To me, he always was that dirty white boy who changed the shape of music completely. It was talking about the kind of heritage that he left, and I think that had an effect on all the musicians that came after, like Mick Jagger - he was also a dirty white boy. Elvis paved the way for all that." (Check out our interview with Mick Jones.)
  • This was the lead single from Head Games, which was the third Foreigner album. On the cover was a photo of a young woman backed into a urinal in a men's bathroom, trying to erase her phone number from the wall. This didn't go over well with some record store owners and radio stations, especially in the Bible Belt.

    "Dirty White Boy" was a bit controversial, since race was still a fairly taboo subject in popular music. The album didn't reach the highs of their first two releases and didn't produce any Top 10 singles, but it still eventually sold over 5 million copies. The group's next album, 4, was far less controversial and much more radio friendly.

Comments: 3

  • Rotunda from Tulsa, OkOoooo! I didn't know this song was about Elvis, until I read it on Songfacts. Anyway, back in '79 "Dirty White Boy" was high on the Tulsa rock radio charts & I loved it. Also, I had my first white boyfriend & this was "our song." I became a big Foreigner fan because of him ("Twinky" McGraw). We both love this song because the lyrics told a story that the dirty white boy is warning the girl that her reputation will be ruined if they get it on together. It also says "he's a loner--but he's never alone" which could mean he either runs with a lot of girls or a crowd or the girl he's "courting." Anyway, the lyrics were great & the guitar work is just loud and raunchy. Pure rock and roll!
  • Rocky from Fort Smith, ArBack in '79, I was a kid & bought the single "Dirty White Boy" & the album "Head Games." I was a Foreigner fan for a while. In my area at that time (Joplin, Mo.), the song got very good radio-play from local & area stations. Songfacts shows that Billboard had the song peak at #12, but in the Joplin area it peaked at #5. I know because I kept one of the old record chart leaflets given out by a Joplin radio station. Back then, I didn't know the song was about Elvis. Cool. Rock on, Foreigner! !
  • Robert from Houston, TxForeigner has been referenced multiple times on the show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Most notably was the episode in which the Mooninites won the Foreigner Belt at a local carnival, which according to Ignignokt, gives the wearer of the belt "all of the superpowers of '70s supergroup, Foreigner." For example, whenever the wearer of the Belt speaks the title of the Foreigner song, "Cold As Ice," an adversary would suddenly freeze up, rendering him/her powerless. The character Carl is also known to be a big fan of Foreigner, having seen them at the Meadowlands in '83. During this concert he copped a feel off a passed out "broad" and now whenever he hears the song "Urgent" he thinks of "her boobs covered in vomit". (from Wikipedia)
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