Since 1976, Foreigner has been playing music, recording albums, and entertaining people all over the world. They have had great success over the years. The amazing thing is that the band changed artists many times over the years. The lineup changed so many times that people could not even keep up, but that did not matter. They all made the music of the band sound terrific and entertained millions of people all over the world at concerts with standing room only. And they continue today.
Mick Jones, an Englishman, is the only artist that has played on every album that Foreigner cut. The very first artist that formed the band was Mick Jones, Ian McDonald, Lou Gramm, Dennis Elliott, Al Greenwood, and Ed Gagliardi. Mick Jones chose the name for the band because Gramm, Greenwood, and Gagliandi were Americans and the others were English.
In 1977 Foreigner launched their first album “Foreigner.” The album stayed on the charts, Top 20, for a year selling more than four million records here in the U.S. The in 1978, Foreigner released the second album, “Double Vision,” sold over five million albums. The first two albums introduced us to great songs like “Feels Like a Good Time,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Bloodied,” “Double Vision, ” and “Blue Morning Blue Day.”
Right after the release of “Double Vision,” Foreigner released a third album named “Head Games.” Not only was the title track a big hit but also was the thunderous “Dirty White Boy.” The “Head Games” album was the start of a long changing of players routine that continued all the way up to 2010 when drummer and back up vocalist, Jason Sutter joined the group.
Mick Jones was born in December of 1944. Jones started his music career in 1960 playing in bands and scored a couple of minor hits in the British music industry. Jones played for various bands and even played temp shows for many artists. In 1972, he played on the album “Wind of Changed” with Peter Frampton. In 1974 Jones played with George Harrison on his “Dark Horse” album. Jones also co-wrote “Bad Love” with Eric Clapton. And at age 66, Jones can still play a mean guitar. But with all the success he has enjoyed playing music, it finally caught up with him with his family life. Jones was married to socialite/writer Ann Dexter-Jones for 25 years. In 2007 they got divorced.
Entertaining for over 40 years, Foreigner has had 26 different band members other than the members that are presently together. Many of them left and came back at different times, but Mick Jones was always there. Today’s band members are lead singer Kelly Hansen, guitarist and keyboard and vocals Mick Jones. Guitarist, saxophone, flute, and vocals Thom Gimbel played with the band in 1993 and left. He then returned in 1995 and has been with the band since. Michael Bluestein plays keyboards, synthesizers, and back up vocals. Bluestein joined the band in 2008. Jeff Pilson plays bass and back up vocals and has been with the band since 2004. Jason Sutter is the newest member of the band. He is the drummer, percussionist, and sings back up vocals.
A one-time event happened in Las Vegas, NV on May 22, 2010. “Whitesnake” guitarist Doug Aldrich, pitched in for Mick Jones at a Mandalay Bay Events Center concert. This was the first time since the band formed, that no original band members played in concert. The reason for Jones to be absent was not available, but I hope he is able to continue for a few more years.
Then October 2, 2009, Foreigner released another album. Titled “Can’t Slow Down”, this was the first album with lead singer Kelly Hansen and the first recording since 1994. The album debuted #29 on the Billboard 200 chart. Two of the songs on the album reached the Top 20 on Billboards Adult Contemporary charts in the U.S. The release was first exclusively sold at Wal-Mart stores in the U.S., but now the CD can be found at most music stores.
Marti Frederiksen, formally of Aerosmith, co-wrote the songs for “Can’t Slow Down” with Jones and Hansen. He also co-produced the album with Jones’ stepson Mark Ronson. Frederiksen has written music and mixed music for a long list of artists. He worked with Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Brother Cane, Meat Loaf, Bo Bice, Richie Sambora, Sheryl Crow, Scorpians, and many others. He produced the song “Cry” that Faith Hill won her Grammy for “Best Vocal Performance” in 2002.
Bands like Foreigner have entertained millions for decades. For those of us that enjoy the old “Classic Rock,” we are fortunate that these bands have continued to perform so that we can enjoy some “good” music instead of some of this new crap. Yes, I am older and can’t get into the groove of some of the newer sounds that are called music. For me much of it sounds like a dog that was run over by a car. I may not remember all the band names or names of the songs, but I do relate to most of the music that was born in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. Many groups were short lived and some have continued on like Foreigner.
This year I had the pleasure of seeing Foreigner in Concert at Silver Springs, Florida. My wife and I anticipated the upcoming concert, but realized that many old groups have lost some of their sound that they had when they were a younger group. To our surprise this was not true with this concert. The music was crisp and rockin’ and Kelly Hansen came alive with an outstanding sound and clarity. It was like the younger days when we went to concerts and the sound was strong and the atmosphere was electric. Some of that might be contributed by the fact that the usual concert was filled with marijuana smoke, but that was okay. The concerts were normally peaceful and we never saw a bad concert. Music is always better when it is live.
The sad part for me is that most of my favorite musicians are in their 60’s and some even older. Time will either end many bands forever, and hopefully many will carry on with new people, playing the old songs. Many of the fans of these groups are also getting older and too, we shall pass on with the music. But people do get too old to play and we all die. But music does live forever. As long as these older groups continue to play their music all over the world, it will live with the younger people and continue to be very popular. Too sad that many of the great artists have already passed on and now their music lives in memories.
As these groups play their music in today’s arena, they generally play smaller venues than they used to, which help many of the older crowd like me, to enjoy them in smaller and closer spots. But there are those occasion that these older groups band together and have a multi-band concert in some areas. These are what I wait for. If there is some producer out there that is bored, put together a concert with Foreigner, Def Leppard, Styx, AC/DC and bring back Led Zeppelin for another reunion. That will be a concert that this old fart would travel to.
Foreigners Official Website
Wkipedia Foreigner (band)