The rock band Foreigner is still going strong after 42 years on the road – featuring original members and the current line-up, a reunion show for August has just been announced.
When Foreigner formed in 1976, Gerald Ford was president of the United States, Labour’s Jim Callaghan was the UK prime minister and Great Britain was gripped by a prolonged heatwave, which lead to a drought. In the North Atlantic Ocean, Icelandic and British vessels clashed over fishing rights in the famous Cod War.
In New York, three British musicians – guitarist Mick Jones, drummer Dennis Elliott and the multi-instrumental Ian McDonald – were collaborating with three Americans – singer Lou Gramm, bassist Ed Gagliardi and keyboard player Al Greenwood – to form a new band.
Initially, they called themselves Trigger and this is the guise under which they sent out demo tapes to record companies. One tape arrived on Atlantic Records’ president Jerry Greenberg’s desk. By chance, he had seen a band called Trigger recently and so he picked the tape up. He soon realised it wasn’t the same band, but he liked what he heard anyway.
The group soon changed their name to Foreigner because Trigger was already taken. They chose the name because they came from different countries – so wherever they were playing, even in the US or the UK, some of them would always be foreigners.
After winning a record deal with Atlantic, they released their first album, called Foreigner, in March 1977. It was a massive hit, rocketing them to overnight stardom.
Selling more than four million copies in America, it was in the top 20 for a year. By May 1977, the band was already playing sell-out gigs in massive stadiums and their debut album had gone gold.
Cold as Ice
Released from their first album, Cold as Ice went on to become perhaps their most famous hit and the song most associated with Foreigner. Released in July 1977, it reached number six in the Billboard Hot 100 and it also charted in the UK, Australia, Canada, Holland and Ireland.
Written by Lou Gramm and Mick Jones, the song was much-sampled on other musicians’ hits, including Scott Brown’s Ice Cold 2 in 2007, MOP’s Cold as Ice in 2000 and Kanye West’s Cold at Glastonbury Festival in 2015.
The lyrics weren’t describing someone’s physical state, but rather referred to their emotional attitude. It was a bitter love song about a lover who appeared unemotional, with the singer telling her, “You’re as cold as ice – you’re willing to sacrifice our love.”
He tells her that someday, she will “pay the price” for “throwing away a fortune in feelings”.
After their meteoric rise to success, the band went on to release 47 singles, nine studio albums, seven live albums and 20 compilation albums.
Their other most famous hit songs have included Feels Like the First Time in 1977, Blue Morning, Blue Day in 1978 (another song about the end of a relationship), Head Games in 1979, with its soaring operatic riff, and the classic rock song, Waiting for a Girl Like You in 1981.
There have been numerous personnel changes over the years, but founder member Mick Jones has remained with the band for the past 42 years. They still tour regularly and are planning a reunion gig on 4th August at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip club in Sturgis, South Dakota.
Many former band members including Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood, Dennis Elliott, Rick Wills and Ian McDonald will join Jones and the current line-up on the stage for a night to remember.
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