Englishman Mick Jones began his musical career as the "24th guitar player" in a unit known as Nero And The Gladiators. He wrote songs and played sessions for French Pop idol Johnny Halliday and recorded with such artists as George Harrison and Peter Frampton. Jones formed Wonderwheel with Gary Wright and they eventually reformed the noted U.K. band, Spooky Tooth. In 1974, he moved to New York; Spooky Tooth broke up, and Jones went on to serve as A&R rep for a British record company. He assembled Foreigner in 1976. Jones had dreamed of forming his own unique mixture of Rock, Progressive and R&B elements since his days touring as a support act for the Beatles. He joined forces with ex-King Crimson horns man Ian McDonald, vocalist Lou Gramm (ex-Black Sheep), drummer Dennis Elliot (ex-If/Ian Hunter), and New Yorkers Al Greenwood (keyboards) and Ed Gagliari (bass).
The Cold As Ice single became the first of their many successes. The self-titled debut album followed in 1977 and went quadruple platinum. It boasted a two year run on the charts on the power of the mega-hits Feels Like The First Time, Cold As Ice and Long, Long Way From Home. The next year they tested their a song, Hot Blooded, at the Cal Jam II Festival. The song was so warmly received that it made its way onto their follow-up release Double Vision.
Double Vision (1978) went immediately to platinum status; it surpassed its predecessor with more than five million albums sold in the U.S alone. It remained in the Top Ten for six months and became the #1-selling Rock album of the year. Two gold selling singles were released from Double Vision, including Hot Blooded and the album title track. Their third release, Head Games (1979), also went multi-platinum, offering the hit singles, Dirty White Boy and Head Games. This album, however, was a more back to basics approach for them. It also featured their first set of personnel changes when Rick Wills (ex-Peter Frampton/ex-Roxy Music) took over on bass while McDonald and Gagliari left, trimming the operation to a quartet.
4 (1982) was a more streamlined effort, both in sound and membership, with tracks like Jukebox Hero and Urgent (featuring Junior Walker on Sax) and the membership of just Jones, Gramm, Elliot and Wills. It would be followed-up with their Records "best of..." album that same year.
Agent Provocateur (1984) debuted one of Foreigner's most enduring ballads, I Want to Know What Love Is. This song, as a single, would be their first music video. In 1985 the band engaged on a nine-month world tour and, on a break during 1986, Jones assisted in the production of Van Halen's 5150 album, and served as executive producer of the re-formed Bad Company's Fame And Fortune project. Lou Gramm also released his debut solo album, Ready Or Not, in 1987, which featured the hit single, Midnight Blue.
In 1987 Foreigner returned to the studio to record Inside Information, it was the first to be produced entirely by Mick Jones. Say You Will and I Don't Want To Live Without You were the two resulting hits. The album, however, saw the band drifting from their traditional up-tempo Rocker tracks to more commercial power ballads, while Jones' solo self-titled album yielded a Top 10 hit. But Gramm, experiencing less luck, became unhappy with his lot and wanted a creative change with more input so he left in 1989 to form Shadow King. A replacement singer was found but by 1991 both Shadow King and Foreigner had split.
It would be 'Atlantic Records', their label, who helped bring the band back together after the European re-release of a greatest hits album sold over 700,000 copies in 1991. Unusual Heat would follow that same year.
The Very best And Beyond (1992) featured three new tracks as well as old greats and served to re-launch the band; the new tracks successfully compromising between their new and old styles. A further cashing in on their classic era was achieved with their live set Classic Hits Live (1993). Their first full studio effort after reuniting would be Mr. Moonlight (1995). Bass player Bruce Turgon, who had worked with Gramm for years on solo projects and was a member of Gramm's early band Black Sheep, was now a member along with Gramm himself and Jones as well as keyboardist Jeff Jacobs, who worked with Jones when he was producing Billy Joel's award winning multi-platinum Stormfront album. Mark Shulman took over the drum spot.
The band was just about to leave for a tour of Japan in the spring of 1997, when Gramm was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumor, but after surviving the dangerous operation, Gramm spent a year recovering, although he never stopped working with Mick Jones on songwriting for the new 1999 album and has since made a full recovery.