Foreigner playing at London's Wembley Stadium in May of 1982. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Foreigner was founded in New York City by musicians from two countries. Englishmen Mick Jones, Ian McDonald, and Dennis Elliott joined forces with Americans Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood, and Ed Gagliardi in 1976. Jones, the band’s lead guitarist, came up with their name. He reasoned that no matter where they were visiting, at least half of the band would be foreigners.

A year after forming, Foreigner released their self-titled debut. Their first three singles from the 1977 album were “Feels Like The First Time,” “Cold As Ice,” and “Long, Long Way From Home.” All of the songs were top-20 hits and remain radio staples to this day. Spurred by that initial success, Foreigner went on to populate the charts worldwide though the 1970s and ’80s.

Many rock fans, including yours truly, feel that Foreigner has been slighted. According to Blabbermouth, the band has had more Billboard top-10 hits than Journey, and just as many as Fleetwood Mac. However, Foreigner has never even been nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Something should be done about that.

UPDATE (2/10/24): Foreigner was finally nominated for the Class of 2024. Inductees will be announced in late April. You can see the full list of nominees HERE.

Mick Jones is the only original member still in the band. Fortunately, he has surrounded himself with other talented rock veterans such as Jeff Pilson (bass) and Kelly Hansen (lead vocals) so that Foreigner could continue to perform for their loyal legion of fans. They are currently on their farewell tour, which is scheduled to run through 2024 and includes a stop in Charlotte.

For this edition of the Throwback Threesome, we’re revisiting Foreigner’s first phase when Lou Gramm was the lead singer. Gramm fronted the band from 1977 to 1990 and again from 1992 to 2003. He also had a solo career, which spawned the 1987 hit “Midnight Blue,” and even put out an album of Christian rock in 2009.

  • Cold As Ice (1977)

    Released in 1977, “Cold as Ice” is what you might call an old school “diss track.” It’s about a woman who is materialistic and selfish, and she’s getting a warning that her behavior will come back to haunt her someday. The song was a strong sencond single from Foreigner’s debut album, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

  • Urgent (1981)

    The saxophone used to have a much bigger presence in rock music and it’s prominently featured in “Urgent,” the first single from Foreigner’s 1981 album 4. The rhythm saxophone part was performed by Mark Rivera, who regularly recorded and toured with the band. The iconic tenor sax solo was played by Motown star Junior Walker. However, only Rivera appears in the video. The song went to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and all the way to number 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.

  • I Want To Know What Love Is (1984)

    This emotional power ballad was by far the biggest of all of Foreigner’s many hits. “I Want To Know What Love Is” was released in 1984 as the lead single from the band’s fifth album, Agent Provocateur. It topped the charts in the U.S., UK, and half a dozen other countries. What really stands out in this song are the amazing backing vocals from the New Jersey Mass Choir, who are also seen in the video.

Sign me up for the K104.7 email newsletter!

Your favorite station is giving you exclusive access to some great content. Become a K 104.7 VIP Member and get exclusive access to music news, contests, quizzes, and MORE!

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.