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FOREIGNER



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The band circa 1977: From left to right: Lou Gramm, Ed Gagliardi, Ian McDonald, Al Greenwood, Mick Jones and Dennis Elliot
The band is led by British journeyman rocker Mick Jones, who played in the Sixties with Nero and the Gladiators, a Shadows-like group that had several hits in England, including "Hall of the Mountain King." He worked with French rock singer Johnny Hallyday, then with a latter-day version of Spooky Tooth. Jones had worked as an A & R man in New York before joining the Leslie West Band. A year later he decided to form his own band. In early 1976 he met ex-King Crimson multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald at recording sessions for Ian Lloyd, former lead singer of Stories. A few months later Jones and McDonald formed Foreigner with four unknown musicians, including lead vocalist Lou Gramm, founder and lead singer of Black Sheep, a Free and Bad Company cover band in upstate New York.

The group's 1977 debut sold more than four million copies in the U.S. and stayed in the Top Twenty for a year, on the strength of "Feels Like the First Time" (#4, 1977), "Cold As Ice" (#6, 1977) and "Long, Long Way From Home" (#20, 1978). Double Vision (#3, 1978), which sold five million records, spawned "Hot Blooded" (#3, 1978) and a #2 hit with the title track.

Late in the year Foreigner headlined the Reading, England, music festival. "Dirty White Boy" (#12) and "Head Games" (#14) hit in 1979. Several personnel changes occurred, so that by late 1980 the group was a quartet, with Rick Wills (formerly of Frampton's Camel, Small Faces, and Roxy Music) on bass. Gagliardi and Greenwood went on to form the group Spys.


The band circa 1981: From left to right, Mick Jones, Dennis Elliott, Lou Gramm, and Rick Wills

Foreigner's next album, 4 (#1, 1981), was its biggest ever, racking up six million in sales. It provided two Top Ten singles: a rare ballad, "Waiting For A Girl Like You" (#2), and "Urgent" (#4), which featured Junior Walker on sax. Agent Provocateur (#4, 1984) went platinum, yielding the #1 pop hit "I Want To Know What Love Is", an epic piece of AOR-gospel on which Gramm was backed by the New Jersey Mass Choir. The album spawned another hit in "That Was Yesterday" (#12, 1984). Inside Information (#15, 1987) also went platinum, featuring the hit "Say You Will" (#6, 1987).

In 1991, Johnny Edwards was selected as the new singer following Gramm's departure from the band in 1988. Unusual Heat was released under this new lineup. After a lukewarm sales response to this album, and a tour, Dennis Elliott retired from the band and Rick Wills left to join Bad Company. Jones and Gramm eventually had a meeting upon which they agreed to team back up. This lead to the writing and recording of 3 new songs to appear on a greatest hits release in 1992, The Very Best and Beyond.


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