Foreigner is a hard rock band formed in New York City in 1976 by veteran musicians Mick Jones and Ian McDonald, along with then unknown vocalist Lou Gramm (Louis Grammatico).
The band is led by British journeyman rocker Mick Jones (former member of Nero and the Gladiators, Spooky Tooth, and The Leslie West Band) who in early 1976 met with ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald and formed Foreigner with Lou Gramm, Dennis Elliott, Al Greenwood, and Ed Gagliardi as a sextet. Jones came up with the name from the fact that he, McDonald, and Elliott were British, while Gramm, Greenwood, and Gagliardi were Americans.
The band's debut album Foreigner sold more than four million copies in the United States and stayed in the Top Twenty for a year with such hits as "Feels Like the First Time", "Cold as Ice", and "Long Long Way From Home". Their sophomore effort, Double Vision, topped their previous selling five million records and spawned "Hot Blooded" and title track "Double Vision". Their third album, Head Games, is a more back-to-basics effort, which Gramm refers to as their "grainiest" album. This album was also successful due to the thunderous "Dirty White Boy" and another title track hit "Head Games".
1980 brought personnel changes so that now the band was a quartet and Rick Wills played bass. Gagliardi reportedly fainted when he was dismissed from the band. He and Greenwood went on to the failed band Spys.
Foreigner's next album, aptly named 4, was their biggest hit containing "Jukebox Hero", "Waiting for a Girl Like You", and "Urgent". Their next album, Agent Provocateur, released in 1984, gave them their only #1 hit, a gospel-inspired ballad backed by the New Jersey Mass Choir, "I Want to Know What Love Is". In the late 1980s, Jones and Gramm each put out solo efforts and the band went on hiatus. But in 1987 Foreigner regrouped and released Inside Information; spawning hits such as "Say You Will" and "I Don't Want To Live Without you". But then, reportedly due to the egos of Gramm and Jones, the band dissolved again .
In 1990, Mick Jones reformed Foreigner with a new lead vocalist, Johnny Edwards. This edition of Foreigner released the album Unusual Heat in 1991. This was their worst selling album and only climbed as high as #117 on the Billboard 200, although "Lowdown and Dirty" was a minor mainstream rock hit reaching #4 on the chart. But by 1992, however, Lou Gramm rejoined Foreigner and produced the band's second greatest hits album, "The Very Best and Beyond". Three years later Foreigner released what was supposed to be the band's comeback album, Mr. Moonlight. This album fared even worse than Unusual Heat due to the rising popularity of alternative and grunge rock, although the ballad "Until the End of Time" was a minor hit hitting #42 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was to be the last time to date that Foreigner charted on a Billboard singles chart of any kind. The reformed band stayed together through the hard times and toured throughout the United States until 2002.
In 2001, the Warner Music Group selected Foreigner and 4 to be among the first group of albums from their catalog to be remastered, enhanced and released in the new DVD Audio format. In 2002, the 25th Anniversary Year brought affirmation of the enduring respect for Foreigner recordings with Rhino Entertainment re-issuing the 1977 - 1981 multi-platinum albums in special enhanced formats. Foreigner, Double Vision, Head Games and 4 received the loving attention of Rhino's staff and bloom again with new photos and liner notes and bonus tracks of previously unreleased material. New Greatest Hits albums were also produced in the U.S. and in Europe. The U.S. version reached #80 on the Billboard 200 Album chart.
In late 2002, Foreigner played in the Netherlands at the annual Night of the Proms festival. It was the last time to date that Gramm and Jones played together. Gramm would leave the group in 2003, Jones stated that he and Gramm split because they weren't communicating: "We weren't really communicating. I think we really tried hard to save it, but it got to the point when we both realized that to go on would be detrimental for both of us."
Jones, the founder and only remaining original member of Foreigner, decided to take some time off before looking to form a new lineup in 2004. On July 25, 2004, in Santa Barbara, California at Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort, Jones appeared with a brand new version of Foreigner that included: Jeff Jacobs, Thom Gimbel, former Dokken bass player Jeff Pilson, current UFO drummer Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, who had also played with the brief Led Zeppelin reunions and his own band Bonham) and Bonham singer, Chaz West. West was hired for that show only and was eventually replaced by former Hurricane singer Kelly Hansen in 2005.
Foreigner joined Def Leppard along with Styx on tour in 2007. They also toured extensively in their own right in 2007 - the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the band.
Their album, Extended Versions, featured the new line-up playing all their classic hits live in concert in one of the most "studio like, clean sounding" live album recordings produced. They are currently working on a new album which will include a mix of both new songs as well as new takes on their old material.
In September 2007 it was announced that Foreigner would join Pete Townshend, Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings, and Paolo Nutini as openers for the one-night-only Led Zeppelin reunion show in memory of Atlantic Records' Ahmet Ertegun. The show took place on December 10, 2007, in London, England, having been postponed by 2 weeks due to Jimmy Page fracturing a finger.
The band released a greatest hits anthology on July 15, 2008 titled No End in Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner. The anthology included all of their greatest hits plus some new live recordings and a new studio track, "Too Late", which was their first new song release since 1994's Mr. Moonlight, and the first recorded output of the new lineup. "Too Late" was released as a single on June 17, 2008. In 2008, Bonham parted ways with Foreigner. Bryan Head was then brought in to fill the drum chair. But his tenure was short and he also departed to be replaced by the returning Brian Tichy.
In addition to touring small clubs and venues, the band frequently is engaged for private parties and conventions.
Foreigner released their new album on October 2, 2009 titled Can't Slow Down. It was one of several recent classic rock releases (AC/DC, The Eagles, Journey, and Kiss being four others) to be released exclusively through the Wal-Mart stores chain.