Saturday, December 20, 2014

Foreigner, The #20 Artist of the Seventies*

In 1976, former Spooky Tooth guitarist Mick Jones and keyboardist Al Greenwood began jamming with drummer Stan Williams and bassist Jay Davis in New York City.  Ian Lloyd began singing with the group, but Jones retained only Greenwood and continued searching for the right mix.  While at a session for Lloyd's solo album, Jones met former King Crimson member Ian McDonald, and Jones met drummer Dennis Elliott at a session for another artist.

The group auditioned dozens of singers with no luck.  Then Jones remembered an album by Black Sheep that had been given to him backstage at a Spooky Tooth concert by the lead singer of Black Sheep, Lou Gramm.  Jones called Gramm, who proved to be the one the group was looking for, and when bassist Ed Gagliardi joined, the group had the right combination.

At first, the band called themselves Trigger, but the group's demo tape was rejected by all the major record companies in all their wisdom.  Then, John Kalodner, A&R man at Atlantic Records, saved the day for Atlantic.  He heard the tape and convinced president Jerry Greenberg to sign this group immediately.  Jones came up with the name Foreigner because, no matter what country the group was in, three would be foreigners ( Jones, McDonald and Elliott were British, while Gramm, Greenwood and Gagliardi were Americans.)

After six months of rehearsing, Foreigner began recording their debut album.  The group also made another important move, hiring manager Bud Prager, who would be with the group for the next 17 years.  In 1977, Foreigner released their self-titled debut album.  The first single, "Feels Like The First Time", rocketed up to #4 in the United States and #7 in Canada, and sold over one million copies.

The great song "Cold As Ice" peaked at #6 in the U.S. and #9 in Canada, and it too went Gold.

The album was a best-seller for a year and sold over four million copies.  The single "Long, Long Way From Home" was a bit underrated at #20 in the United States and #22 in Canada.

With the song "Fool For You Anyway", the group proved they could do a ballad, something that would serve them well in the 80's. 
Another worthy track on the album is "The Damage Is Done".

Foreigner toured to get their name and music out there, and in March of 1978, played before over 200,000 at California Jam II.  The group then toured Europe, Japan and Australia and released the album Double Vision.  "Hot Blooded" reached the identical position of #3 in both the U.S. and Canada, and also sold over one million copies.

Double Vision sold five million copies for Foreigner.  The title song was up next, going to #2 in the United States and #7 in Canada, and topping two million in sales.

Foreigner released "Blue Morning, Blue Day", and it peaked at #15.

"Spellbinder" is another solid track on the album.

A solid album track is "Love Has Taken Its Toll".

Gagliardi left the group, replaced by Rick Wills.  In 1979, Foreigner released another super album, Head Games.  The first single, "Dirty White Boy", landed at #12 in the United States and #14 in Canada.  

Head Games sold three million copies in the U.S. alone.  The title song made it to #14 in both the United States and Canada.

"Love On The Telephone" is another of many Top Tracks* on the album.

"Women" also received considerable airplay.

We want to feature two other tracks from the album--another fan favorite is "The Modern Day".

The track "Blinded By Science" also got considerable airplay at the time, and does to this day.

Foreigner scored the biggest album of their career with Four in 1980, but that classic is not included in these rankings--they get to #19* with only their 70's output.  The 1982 compilation album Records sold seven million copies, with 60% of the tracks being from the 70's.  The group continued to enjoy success after that until Gramm left for a solo career.  Foreigner later reformed, and a version of the group still tours today. 

In 2013, Jones and Gramm were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Foreigner sold over 20 million albums in the Seventies.  They had eight hits, with half of them going Top 10.    

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