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Biography Dicography

Foreigner On Line Foreigner On Line
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While quite a few arena rock acts of the '70s found the transformation into the '80s quite difficult, several acts continued to flourish and enjoyed some of their biggest commercial success: Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, and especially Foreigner. Foreigner's leader from the beginning has been British guitarist Mick Jones, who first broke into the music biz as a "hired gun" of sorts, appearing on recordings by George Harrison and Peter Frampton, and as part of a later-day version of hard rockers Spooky Tooth. By the mid-'70s, Jones had relocated to New York City, where he was a brief member of the Leslie West Band and served as an A&R man for a record company. But it wasn't long before Jones felt the urge to be part of another rock outfit as he sought to put together a band that would be able to combine elements of rock, progressive, R&B, and pop into a single, cohesive style.

Jones soon assembled a group consisting of ex-King Crimson sax player Ian McDonald and ex-Ian Hunter drummer Dennis Elliot (both of whom were British), along with New York musicians Al Greenwood (keyboards), Ed Gagliardi (bass), and Lou Gramm (vocals), the latter of which was previously a member of an obscure '70s outfit called Black Sheep. Jones found immediate songwriting chemistry with Gramm (one of the first songs they wrote together was the eventual hit "Cold As Ice"), resulting in the newly formed band taking the name Foreigner and signing a recording contract with Atlantic Records. Foreigner's self-titled debut was issued in 1977 and became an immediate hit on the strength of the hit singles "Feels Like the First Time," "Long, Long Way From Home," and the aforementioned "Cold As Ice," as the album would eventually go platinum five times over.

Foreigner avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with an even stronger follow-up release, 1978's Double Vision, which spawned such further hit singles as "Hot Blooded" and its title track, and the album stayed in the Top Ten for a solid six months. As a result, the album's success established the sextet as an arena headliner and would go on to become Foreigner's best-selling album of their career (selling seven million copies in the U.S. alone by 2001). The group's third release overall, Head Games, followed in 1979 and marked the first of many subsequent lineup changes for the group, as Gagliardi was replaced by ex-Peter Frampton and Roxy Music bassist Rick Wills. While the album was another big seller and turned out to be their most straight-ahead musically, both Gramm and Jones felt that the album failed to break any new ground, something that they sought to correct on their next album.

The band's lineup was cut back to just a quartet consisting of Jones, Gramm, Elliot, and Wills as super-producer Mutt Lange (fresh off late-'70s success with AC/DC) was enlisted to oversee the proceedings. The ploy worked and the resulting 1981 release, 4, was another massive seller, spawning such further hit singles as "Urgent" (which featured a blazing sax solo from Motown vet Junior Walker), "Jukebox Hero," and the power ballad "Waiting for a Girl Like You." Although the latter tune was a massive hit, it confused some of the band's following as to whether Foreigner was a hard rock band or balladeers. In 1982, a stopgap best-of set, Records, was released and featured ten of band's biggest hit singles, remaining a steady seller to this day (becoming Foreigner's second album to achieve sales of seven million by 2001).

It took Foreigner three years to complete a follow-up to 4 with Agent Provocateur being issued in 1984. The band made the transition to the MTV video age without a hitch with the over-the-top, gospel-inflected ballad "I Want to Know What Love Is" (which featured the New Jersey Mass Choir) becoming one of the biggest MTV and radio hits that year. But despite the single's success, there was a noticeable dip in sales for Agent Provocateur when compared to their earlier albums due to the fact that the album wasn't as focused and strong overall as their previous recordings. After a mammoth nine-month tour wrapped up a year later, both Jones and Gramm focused on non-Foreigner projects during 1986. Jones produced Bad Company's Fame and Fortune and co-produced Van Halen's hit debut recording with Sammy Hagar, 5150, while Gramm worked on a solo debut. The release of both Gramm's solo album, Ready or Not, as well as Foreigner's sixth studio album overall, Inside Information, came in 1987. While both were successful and spawned Top Ten hits (Gramm with "Midnight Blue" and Foreigner with "Say You Will"), tension between Gramm and Jones came to a head regarding the singer's desire to focus on his solo career, which led to Gramm's split from Foreigner in 1989.

The same year as his split from Foreigner, Gramm issued his second solo album, Long Hard Look, which proved to be not as successful as its predecessor, while Jones produced Billy Joel's Storm Front and issued a star-studded self-titled solo debut. Jones, Elliot, and Wills tried to keep Foreigner afloat with a new singer, Johnny Edwards, issuing a largely ignored album in 1991, Unusual Heat, while Gramm fared no better with a new outfit, Shadow King, issuing a forgotten self-titled debut the same year. Seeing the error in their split, both Jones and Gramm listened to the advice of Atlantic Records and reunited for the recording of three all-new tracks to be included on a more extensive "hits" collection. Issued in 1992, the 17-track The Very Best...And Beyond was Foreigner's most commercially successful release in several years along with the band's first live release, Classic Hits Live, issued a year later.

The Gramm/Jones reunion soon turned permanent and new members Bruce Turgon (bass) and Jeff Jacobs (keyboards) were welcomed on board. The latest version of Foreigner issued an all-new studio recording in 1995, Mr. Moonlight, which failed to return the group to the top of the charts. Foreigner remained a popular concert attraction, but the band's future was thrust into doubt in 1997 when Gramm was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Luckily, the tumor was non-cancerous and was removed shortly thereafter. Gramm's recovery was slow and painful, but by 1999, the singer was well enough for Foreigner to team up with Journey for a summer tour. The early 21st century saw the release of several archival collections courtesy of the Rhino label: a pair of additional collections, Jukebox Heroes: The Foreigner Anthology and Complete Greatest Hits, as well as reissues of the group's self-titled debut and 4, both of which included extra bonus tracks. Can't Slow Down, a three-disc set that included a new studio album, a disc of remixed versions of the band's biggest hits, and a DVD documentary, arrived in 2009.

-- by Greg Prato, All Music Guide

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I Want To Know What Love IsI Want To Know What Love Is
Waiting For A Girl Like YouWaiting For A Girl Like You


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1978Double Vision
1979Head Games
1984Agent Provocateur
1987Inside Information
1991Unusual Heat
1995Mr. Moonlight
2009Can't Slow Down
2012Alive & Rockin' (Live At The Bang Your Head Festival, Balingen, Germany/2006)
2014An Acoustic Evening with Foreigner


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1977 Foreigner

01. Feels Like The First Time
02. Cold As Ice
03. Starrider
04. Headknocker
05. The Damage Is Done
06. Long, Long Way From Home
07. Woman Oh Woman
08. At War With The World
09. Fool For You Anyway
10. I Need You
11. Feels Like The First Time (Demo Version)
12. Woman Oh Woman (Demo Version)
13. At War With The World (Demo Version)
14. Take Me To Your Leader

1978 Double Vision

01. Hot Blooded
02. Blue Morning, Blue Day
03. You're All I Am
04. Back Where You Belong
05. Love Has Taken Its Toll
06. Double Vision
07. Tramontane (Instrumental)
08. I Have Waited So Long
09. Lonely Children
10. Spellbinder
11. Hot Blooded [Live Version]
12. Love Maker [Live Version]

1979 Head Games

01. Dirty White Boy
02. Love On The Telephone
03. Women
04. I'll Get Even With You
05. Seventeen
06. Head Games
07. The Modern Day
08. Blinded By Science
09. Do What You Like
10. Rev On The Red Line
11. Zalia


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1981 4

01. Night Life
02. Juke Box Hero
03. Break It Up
04. Waiting For A Girl Like You
05. Luanne
06. Urgent
07. I'm Gonna Win
08. Woman In Black
09. Girl On The Moon
10. Don't Let Go
11. Juke Box Hero [Nearly Unplugged Version]
12. Waiting For A Girl Like You [Nearly Unplugged Version]

1984 Agent Provocateur

01. Tooth And Nail
02. That Was Yesterday
03. I Want To Know What Love Is
04. Growing Up The Hard Way
05. Reaction To Action
06. Stranger In My Own House
07. A Love In Vain
08. Down On Love
09. Two Different Worlds
10. She's Too Tough

1987 Inside Information

01. Heart Turns To Stone
02. Can't Wait
03. Say You Will
04. I Don't Want To Live Without You
05. Counting Every Minute
06. Inside Information
07. The Beat Of My Heart
08. Face To Face
09. Out Of The Blue
10. A Night To Remember


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1991 Unusual Heat

01. Only Heaven Knows
02. Lowdown And Dirty
03. I'll Fight For You
04. Moment Of Truth
05. Mountain Of Love
06. Ready For The Rain
07. When The Night Comes Down
08. Safe In My Heart
09. No Hiding Place
10. Flesh Wound
11. Unusual Heat

1995 Mr. Moonlight

01. Hand On My Heart
02. I Keep Hoping
03. Running the Risk
04. Hole In My Soul
05. Rain
06. All I Need To Know
07. White Lie
08. Under the Gun
09. Real World
10. Big Dog

2009 Can't Slow Down

01. Can't Slow Down
02. In Pieces
03. When It Comes To Love
04. Living In A Dream
05. I Can't Give Up
06. Ready
07. Give Me A Sign
08. I'll Be Home Tonight
09. Too Late
10. Lonely
11. As Long As I Live
12. Angel Tonight
13. Fool For You Anyway


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2012 Alive & Rockin'
(Live At The Bang Your Head Festival, Balingen, Germany/2006)

01. Double Vision
02. Head Games
03. Dirty White Boy
04. Cold As Ice
05. Starrider
06. Feels Like The First Time
07. Urgent
08. Juke Box Hero / Whole Lotta Love
09. Hot Blooded

2014 An Acoustic Evening with Foreigner

01. Double Vision
02. Long, Long Way from Home
03. Say You Will
04. When It Comes to Love
05. Waiting for a Girl Like You
06. Dirty White Boy
07. That's All Right
08. Fool for You Anyway
09. Feels Like the First Time
10. Juke Box Hero
11. I Want to Know What Love Is
12. Hot Blooded

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graphics by YSM
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