With album sales of over 30 million and sold-out arenas some 25 years after first forming, Foreigner is one of the biggest adult rock acts in history÷and one of the most popular live acts ever. Even as Mick Jones, Lou Gramm and company stayed on the road for popular tours with REO Speedwagon and Journey, Rhino Records was helping bring their classics into the new century with reissues of Foreigner's first four albums and two new anthology/greatest hits compilations.
Born and raised in England, Mick Jones began his musical career as a guitarist for Nero and the Gladiators while also writings songs playing sessions for French pop idol Johnny Halliday, George Harrison and Peter Frampton. Jones formed Wonderwheel with organist/vocalist Gary Wright and they eventually reformed noted U.K. band, Spooky Tooth. In 1974, he moved to New York, Spooky Tooth broke up, and Jones went on to serve as A&R rep for a British record company. He assembled Foreigner in 1976, joining forces with ex-King Crimson hornsman Ian McDonald and a soulful vocalist from Rochester, NY named Lou Gramm, ace British drummer Dennis Elliot (formerly with If and Ian Hunter), and New Yorkers Al Greenwood (keyboards) and Ed Gagliardi (bass).
The Gramm/Jones writing chemistry, which began with "Cold As Ice," clicked immediately. Foreigner's self-titled debut album was released in 1977 and sold quadruple platinum. Double Vision, released the following year, surpassed its predecessor with more than five million albums sold in the U.S. alone.
In 1979 Rick Wills, another alumnus of King Crimson and ex-Peter Frampton, replaced Gagliardi. In 1980 McDonald and Greenwood departed to form Spys, leading to the guest appearances of Thomas Dolby and Junior Walker on the following year's U.S. chart-topping 4, produced by super-producer Mutt Lange. The single "Waiting For A Girl Like You" spent 10 weeks at #2 on the U.S. charts. On the slight downside, the song pigeonholed the group as purveyors of the epic AOR song. This reputation was only endorsed in December 1984 by the release of "I Want To Know What Love Is", which proved to be Foreigner's greatest commercial success. It topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and featured the New Jersey Mass Choir.
By the mid-80s, members of Foreigner were engaged in solo projects, and the success of Gramm's Ready Or Not in 1987 led to widespread speculation that Foreigner were about to disband. This was not the case, as Inside Information proved, though in other respects it was a poor record and a portent of things to come, despite containing the U.S. Top 10 hit singles "Say You Will" and "I Don't Want To Live Without You." In 1989 Gramm enjoyed success with another solo project, Long Hard Look, before officially leaving the band in May 1990 to form Shadow King. Jones refused to face the inevitable and, amid much press sniping, recruited Johnny Edwards (ex-King Kobra) to provide vocals for Unusual Heat.
In 1992 Jones and Gramm finally reunited, launching a re-formed Foreigner. The band was back on the road during the early part of 1995 to promote Mr. Moonlight. The album was only a moderate success, even though it was a typical Foreigner record. Gramm was successfully treated for a brain tumour before the band reconvened in 1999. Still going strong, Foreigner continues to epitomize the classic sound of "adult oriented rock".