The architect behind Foreigner’s extraordinary catalogue of smash hits, Mick has crafted some of rock music’s most enduring songs and produced 10 multi-platinum albums. Grammy and Golden Globe nominated songwriter, performer and producer and winner of the prestigious Ivor Novello songwriter award in Britain in 1998, Mick first began playing guitar in his early teens. "I knew early on that I could never hold a regular job. I had to play guitar. I had to somehow make my way into music" he says.
After starting his own Blues/Rock band and opening for the Rolling Stones in pubs across South London, Mick’s first big break came in 1964 when he moved to Paris and was hired to play with French singer Sylvie Vartan and later hired to work as musical director for French rock icon, Johnny Hallyday. Jones returned to his native England in the early 70’s to reform the band Spooky Tooth with Gary Wright. After Spooky Tooth broke up, Mick moved to New York City and, in 1976, formed Foreigner with fellow Brits Ian Mc Donald and Dennis Elliott, and Americans Lou Gramm, Alan Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi.
In his own words:
"My initial musical vision for Foreigner was to combine Blues and R&B with British Rock and make it sound soulful and authentic. I?d grown up in England and had the English influence but I was also inspired by many elements of American music, from Mississippi Blues to Country and Western. Foreigner was the vehicle to get that musical blend across."
"I’m grateful to be surrounded by the talented musicians that make up Foreigner today. Now each night on stage brings Foreigner’s music alive with energy and excitement. Thanks guys for making it all new again!"
Quotes from Mick talking about Foreigner and the new "Feels Like The First Time" 3-Disc Album:
"When doing the ‘Hot Blooded’ solo I did my damnedest to set the amp on fire, which is what originally happened," Mick says laughing, "I turned it up to 11, I kicked it. . . "
"My feeling over the years is that if you can write a song on an acoustic instrument, and it sounds good, you know you have a good song," Mick explains. "The first time we approached these songs this way I was flabbergasted about how well they adapted back to their nucleus. It’s been an eye opener how stripping the songs bare brings fresh meaning and emotion out of them. The reaction has been so strong that it made me rethink the whole thing and put more attention to the unplugged show. People feel the intimacy, I talk about the songs and how they came about."
"Its' been 6 years since the new line-up has been in place. The success, for me, merited giving the public studio recordings of songs by the new band," Mick Jones asserts. "People know the new Foreigner, so the Foreigner they see live is the same Foreigner they can get on record."
Answering an ad seeking a lead vocalist, Kelly joined Hurricane in 1985. Signed to Enigma/Capitol during the late eighties and early nineties, Hurricane recorded three critically acclaimed albums, racked up five Top 20 MTV videos and landed the top 35 single, "I’m On To You".
After Hurricane disbanded, Hansen worked in a group with Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille, toured as a vocal group arranger and backing vocalist with Liane Foly for her album, CamÃ©lÃ©on and composed music for television.
As the new lead singer in Foreigner, Hansen explains, "the best part about being in this band is getting the chance to do something I feel I was meant to do. I feel extremely fortunate to be given this wonderful opportunity to play with such a substantial group of people, and it just keeps getting better. I think there are times in life where the right combination of people come together at the right time, through luck, timing or for some other unknown reason to create something magical. What happens onstage with this group of guys is something that is rare and palpable. It’s like the old saying, "if I have to describe it, you wouldn’t understand."
Kelly reflects on his tenure in Foreigner:
"I think we’ve done an amazing amount of work since 2005—we worked our asses off for 6 years and people have rediscovered us. I’m told there has been a huge increase in radio airplay that has propelled us into the Top 10 at Classic Rock Radio. Our appearances on video games such as Rock Band and parents turning their kids on to music they love have been a big help. When people come to our show we give them an energetic, action-packed show, which is fun to experience."
Quotes from Kelly talking about the new "Feels Like The First Time" 3-Disc Album:
"This is an extra rubber stamp on our claim to these songs You are constantly having to re-establish yourself. There was a time in the late 90s when the band suffered in reputation, and I think we've spent a good part of the last six years going all over the world to re-establish that this band is very strong and relevant and full of great songs."
"We were doing these live acoustic shows that were being broadcast," he recalls, "and we got a huge response. It was kind of shocking and surprising, and also something that was really new for us. We've never really done that, kind of laying yourself out naked, without lights and amps or anything. It was a real different feeling and a challenge, so we came back and decided to record it. We're still working out the details for touring but it should be interesting."
A multi-instrumentalist, Tom plays rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax, and flute. It was the music of Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago that truly fired his interest in the sound of horns. Equally influenced by progressive rock bands, it was the groundbreaking work of big band trumpet player, Maynard Ferguson, that changed his life. “When I started playing sax I tried to sound like him, learning to nail the high notes,” reveals Gimbel. “This was good training to play the solo on “Urgent” years later!”
After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Tom began touring with Aerosmith playing keyboards and saxophone. With them, he did two world tours, numerous TV and film appearances including Woodstock 2, Wayne’s World 2, Saturday Night Live and MTV unplugged.
“Foreigner just seems to keep getting better. These songs still resonate beautifully. Mick is really wailin’ and Kelly is a phenomenal singer. Mark and Jeff Pilson are like a freight train. The sound is tough.”
In his own words:
As a little, tiny kid I liked Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, the Supremes/Temptations and of course, The Smothers Brothers!
Then later, I heard Elvis, Motown, The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Broadway Musicals and "two older sisters who incessantly played classical piano music!"
But I always loved The Who. Pete Townsend's playing/writing/singing is why I wanted to someday be a rhythm guitarist/writer/singer.
In the early 70s I went through a Jethro Tull phase, which got me started on the flute which then led to the sax and... jazz, baby!
Graduated Berklee College Of Music in 1982, and started working with Jon Butcher Axis, with whom I recorded 3 albums for Capitol Records. Then in 89 I was hired by Aerosmith to play keyboards, sing and play sax.
With them I did two world tours and several SNLs, Wayne's World Two etc...(see old bio)
I first met MIck and Lou in '92.... We had so many great years of touring throughout the 1990s and up until 2002. I cherish those memories.
When the band took a break between '02 and '05, I got extremely into golf and I am now a certified golf instructor. Thanks to Mick and Foreigner, I played in a bunch of celebrity tournaments during that time, and still have a healthy love/passion for the game.
After Mick reformed the band in '05, a new phase of Foreigner began, which has just been magnificent to be a part of. It feels like the band is truly kicking into overdrive now and the recent shows in the UK, Europe and the USA have been the best I can ever remember. The really cool news is, it feels like we are just getting started!
Though best known for his work as an original member of seminal 80’s rock band Dokken, Jeff has played bass and sung with a host of groups including rockers Dio and MSG, and his own bands War and Peace and Lynch/Pilson. Jeff also had a principal role, along with band mate Jason Bonham, in the 2001 Warner Brothers film Rock Star, alongside actors Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston.
Jeff sums up his experience with Foreigner: “It all feels so natural because I was a big fan of the band, and the music and style are a part of my blood. Foreigner, to me, was always the perfect combination of strong songs, great singing, intense heavy rock musicianship, with a touch of R&B added in. Plus the band has great chemistry. There’s just no feeling in the world like going out and kicking butt every night. I feel like I’ve finally found my home!”
Michael Bluestein began piano studies at age 9. Growing up he was exposed to a wide range of artists including Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Boston, Mozart, The Who, and jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. After studying at Berklee College of Music, Michael made his way out to Los Angeles where he has played with Boz Scaggs, Stevie Nicks, Enrique Iglesias, Anastacia, and with the house band on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Michael describes the experience of playing all the classic Foreigner songs as “truly surreal. I grew up hearing and loving all these songs, and never dreamed that I would have the chance to be in the band playing them! The energy on stage is amazing and I love looking out and seeing everyone singing along with every word”.
Bruce Watson is a self-taught guitarist who beginning in the early 90’s found himself smack dab in the middle of the L.A. session scene. Over the next 20 years he had the honour and pleasure to work with artists like B.B King, Rod Stewart, Christina Aguilera, Elton John, Sara Bareilles and Gavin Degraw to name a few as well as hundreds of TV shows, films and commercials. “The range of musical styles I get to play doing that kind of work is really challenging and really fulfilling not to mention the opportunity to play with so many great musicians.”
When asked to describe what it’s like to be a full member of a band like Foreigner Bruce replies, “The level of musicianship and commitment to excellence in this band is very very high. Every single day we’re trying to find little ways here and there to improve the performance of this unbelievable catalogue of songs and I LOVE that. No one’s kicking back AT ALL.” He goes on to add, “I’m blown away every single night to see the power of these songs and the impact they’ve had and continue to make on peoples lives. It’s unbelievable.
Chris Frazier was born in Washington DC and lived in Massachusetts as a boy, and Wyoming as a young man, before moving to L.A. to pursue a career in music. He came from a musical family and began playing drums at the age of 5. Through his childhood and early adulthood, Chris played in school bands and various garage bands before moving to L.A. Over the years, he has recorded and performed with Steve Vai, Edgar Winter, Eddie Money, Whitesnake, Carole King, Tiffany, Eddie Van Halen, Ted Templeman and Gene Simmons, to name a few, before joining Foreigner.
When asked how he feels about performing and touring with Foreigner: "A dream come true. I've always been a fan ever since I heard Double Vision on the radio. That song is going somewhere right from the beginning. Great groove, cool riffs and saxophone? In Rock? Who does that??? Anyway, I had all the albums and the thing that's so cool is that Mick managed to fuse Rock, R&B and pop into one sound. For me that covers a broad spectrum of rhythmic feels that I love to explore. I'm also honored to be working with such talented and down to earth people. Normally you get one or the other."
With ten multi-platinum albums and sixteen Top 30 hits, Foreigner is universally hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world with a formidable musical arsenal that continues to propel sold-out tours and album sales, now exceeding 75 million. Responsible for some of rock and roll’s most enduring anthems including Juke Box Hero, Feels Like The First Time, Urgent, Head Games, Hot Blooded, Cold as Ice, Dirty White Boy, Waiting For A Girl Like You, and the worldwide #1 hit, I Want To Know What Love Is, Foreigner continues to rock the charts more than thirty years into the game.
At Foreigner’s core is founder and lead guitarist Mick Jones, the visionary maestro whose stylistic songwriting, indelible guitar hooks and multi-layered talents continue to escalate Foreigner’s influence, along with lead vocalist Kelly Hansen, bass guitarist Jeff Pilson and multi-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel.
Founded in 1976, Foreigner’s debut album produced the hits Feels Like The First Time, Cold As Ice and Long, Long Way From Home. The album Double Vision followed, as did a string of hits like Urgent, Juke Box Hero and Waiting For A Girl Like You. Those songs helped give Foreigner’s next album, 4, its impressive run at #1 on the Billboard chart. At the zenith of 80’s sound, Foreigner’s fifth album, Agent Provocateur, gave the world the incredible #1 global hit, I Want To Know What Love Is. This musical milestone followed the record-breaking song Waiting For A Girl Like You.
An unprecedented new level of energy commenced in 2002 when Mick Jones decided to take Foreigner to the next level. He was joined by the astonishing Kelly Hansen on vocals, and continues as they lead the group in a re-emergence of astounding music that speaks to long time foreigner fans and younger generations. With renewed energy and direction, Foreigner hit the Billboard charts again with the 2005 release of their live greatest hits album, Extended Versions. Can’t Slow Down followed in 2009, and entered the Billboard chart in the Top 30, driven by two Top 20 radio singles, “In Pieces” and “When It Comes To Love.” To follow was the release of the band’s 3-disc set, Feels Like The First Time, which included an acoustic CD with an intimate and unique re-interpretation of many Foreigner classics, studio re-records by the new lineup and a live performance DVD showcasing the group’s exceptional live energy.
Foreigner experienced another surge in popularity when several of their hits were featured on the Rock Of Ages soundtrack, including “I Want To Know What Love Is,” “Juke Box Hero” and “Waiting For A Girl Like You” – more songs than any other one band on the soundtrack. Hollywood quickly took note, and several more tracks were featured in hit films “Anchorman 2,” “Magic Mike” and “Pitch Perfect,” sending Foreigner downloads up 400%. The video game industry was soon to follow. The blockbuster release, “Grand Theft Auto V,” features Foreigner’s “Dirty White Boy,” and “Hot Blooded” is included in the November 2013 release of “BandFuse”. The high visibility of Foreigner’s songs continues to introduce the band’s music to a whole future generation of fans.
Juke Box Heroes, a new compilation of digitally recorded Foreigner hits, spent over thirty weeks in the Billboard Top 200 in 2013/2014. In September 2013, it hit #4 in the Nielsen SoundScan Top 200 Catalog chart, an astonishing feat that allowed Foreigner’s catalog sales that week to eclipse those of AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Van Halen and most of their Classic Rock peers (Source: Nielsen SoundScan Top 200, September 15, 2013).
In June 2013, Mick Jones was inducted to the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. A multi-talented and multi-dimensional “musician’s musician,” Jones has also written songs such as “Bad Love” with Eric Clapton and “Dreamer” with Ozzy Osbourne, and produced records for others including Billy Joel’s Storm Front and Van Halen’s 5150. A Grammy and Golden Globe-nominated songwriter, Jones is the winner of the prestigious British Ivor Novello Songwriter Award for “The Flame Still Burns”, the soundtrack music for the film Still Crazy.
In May 2014, Atlantic Records Chairman Craig Kallman presented Mick Jones with RIAA gold and platinum digital awards for six Foreigner songs. These awards signify 500,000 and 1,000,000 downloads of Foreigner hits. That is more individual awards than any other heritage rock band, and an illustration of Foreigner’s resonance in the digital era.
The year continued with Foreigner’s headline run in The Soundtrack of Summer US amphitheater tour. The hits compilation album of the same name was released to coincide with the tour and immediately hit the Billboard Top 200 chart, peaking at #64. For most weeks during the tour, Juke Box Heroes joined The Soundtrack Of Summer in the Billboard Top 200 making Foreigner the only Classic Rock band to have such a remarkable presence in today’s chart.
Foreigner’s latest release is entitled The Best Of Foreigner 4 & More, a high-definition live recording from the Borgata in Atlantic City, NJ in October 2014, celebrating the band’s most successful album of all time. The set features some of the band’s best-known hits including I Want To Know What Love Is, Feels Like The First Time, Cold As Ice and Hot Blooded, along with a selection of best songs from ‘4’, such as Waiting For A Girl Like You, Juke Box Hero and Woman In Black.
Foreigner is one of the most viewed YouTube artists with anywhere between 700,000 and 900,000 weekly viewings of their songs (Source: Next Big Sound).
Foreigner have 9 Top 10 hits (that’s just one less than The Eagles, as many as Fleetwood Mac, more than Journey and most of their Classic Rock peers).
YouTube views of Foreigner’s hits have passed the 100 million mark. ‘Juke Box Hero’ alone has had over 40 million views, driven by such events as a Glee episode and Jimmy Fallon’s incredible Lip Sync Battle.
Their hit single, ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’ was #2 in the Top 100 for a total of 14 weeks. This is a record in the history of Billboard magazine. It helped drive Foreigner to #49 on Billboard’s Hot 100 All Time Top Artists Chart. To put that in perspective, The Eagles are #54, Fleetwood Mac are #73 and Aerosmith are #90.
Foreigner ‘4’ spent more weeks on the Billboard chart at #1 than any album by AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, U2, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and any artist in Atlantic Records’ 60 year history.
The band is consistently in the Top 20 at Classic Rock Radio. As a result of the depth of the catalog, the band gets more airplay at this important format than Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Def Leppard, U2, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Heart and more.
Foreigner’s leader and founder, Mick Jones, wrote or co-wrote every Foreigner song, and produced or co-produced every album. He was inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013. He produced Billy Joel’s ‘Storm Front’ and Van Halen’s ‘5150’, the career best selling albums of both artists, and he has written songs with artists as diverse as Ozzy Osbourne and Eric Clapton, with whom he wrote ‘Bad Love’. Eric received a Grammy for that one!
In April 2012, NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart presented Mick Jones with an RIAA award for digital downloads. ‘Juke Box Hero’ and ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ are both platinum, representing over a million downloads, and four other titles have exceeded the gold half million download standard, demonstrating Foreigner’s resonance in the digital era.
The Foreigner catalog has sold more than 75 million albums. Foreigner have sixteen Top 30 hits.
I Want To Know What Love Is - 1
Waiting For A Girl Like You - 2
Double Vision - 2
Hot Blooded - 3
Urgent - 4
Feels Like The First Time - 4
I Don’t Want To Live Without You - 5
Say You Will - 6
Cold As Ice - 6
That Was Yesterday - 12
Dirty White Boy - 12
Head Games - 14
Blue Morning, Blue Day - 15
Long, Long Way From Home - 20
Juke Box Hero - 26
Break It Up - 26