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LOU GRAMM – founding member of Foreigner – one of the greatest singers in Rock music, LOU GRAMM’S unique vocals and hit songs have placed FOREIGNER™, among Billboard’s Top Artists of all time. Their 16 Billboard Top 40 Hit Songs defined an era.


  • “URGENT”


Pre-Foreigner Era

Gramm was born in Rochester, New York, and began his musical career in his
mid-teens, playing in local Rochester bands, including St. James Infirmary (later
The Infirmary), and PHFFT. He later sang harmony vocals in another local band,
Poor Heart. Gramm then went on to sing and play drums, and to eventually
become front man for the band Black Sheep. Black Sheep had the distinction of
being the first American band signed to the Chrysalis label, which released their
first single, “Stick Around” (1973). Black Sheep played in niteclubs in Rochester
and Buffalo, NY including McVan’s, formerly at Niagara Street and Hertel
Avenue. Soon after this initial bit of success, Black Sheep signed with Capitol
Records, releasing two albums in succession [Black Sheep (1974) and
Encouraging Words (1975)]. They were the opening act for KISS when an icy
accident with their equipment truck on the New York State Thruway suddenly
ended the band’s tour on Christmas Eve, 1975. Unable to support its albums with
live performances, Black Sheep came prematurely to a screeching halt.
A year earlier, Lou Gramm had the opportunity to meet his future bandmate Mick
Jones. Jones was in Rochester performing with the band Spooky Tooth, and
Gramm had given Jones a copy of Black Sheep’s first album (S/T). It was early in
1976, not long after Black Sheep’s truck accident, when Jones, in search of a
lead vocalist for a new band he was assembling, expressed his interest in
Gramm and invited him in a phone call to audition for the job of lead singer.

Foreigner Formation and Heyday

With the blessings of his Black Sheep bandmates, Gramm flew down to New
York to audition for the still-unnamed band. With his powerful vocals, he got the
job. Lou Grammatico then became Lou Gramm, and, with the band initially
known as “Trigger,” and later renamed Foreigner, became one of the most
successful rock vocalists of the late 1970s and 1980s. Circus magazine in 1978
upon release of “Hot Blooded” commented that Lou Gramm had a voice that
Robert Plant might envy. His unique vocals have made Foreigner one of
Billboard’s Top 100 Artists of All Time in hit songs history.

Gramm was the lead vocalist on all of Foreigner’s hit songs, including “Feels Like
the First Time”, “Cold as Ice”, “Long, Long Way from Home”, “Hot Blooded”,
“Double Vision”, “Blue Morning, Blue Day”, “Head Games”, “Dirty White Boy”,
“Urgent”, “Juke Box Hero”, “Break It Up” and “Say You Will”. He co-wrote most of
the songs for the band, which achieved two of its biggest hits with the ballads
“Waiting for a Girl Like You”, which spent ten weeks at #2 on the 1981-82
American Hot 100, and “I Want to Know What Love Is”, which was a #1 hit
internationally (US & UK) in 1985. Their first 8 singles cracked the Billboard Top
20,(4 went Top 10) making them the first group since the Beatles to achieve this
in 1980.

Following the band’s second album, the wildly successful Double Vision, shifts in
personnel began to take place. Following their next album, Head Games, Gramm
and Jones jointly decided to reduce the band’s lineup from six to four members.
The next album, which Gramm has called the high point of his work with
Foreigner, was aptly titled 4. Gramm wanted the band to remain true to its purer
rock origins, favoring music with a solid drum and guitar structure, whereas
Jones embraced the 1980s style of synthesizer ballads — a more lucrative
approach at the time. Indeed, the next album, Agent Provocateur, would find
Jones moving creatively in the opposite direction from Gramm, seeking out
potential co-producers such as Trevor Horn, and then Alex Sadkin, which ended
up giving Foreigner’s sound a somewhat new-wavish, keyboard-dominant quality.

Late 1980s and 1990s

By 1987, Foreigner continued to struggle with ongoing internal conflicts. During
this period, Gramm released his first solo album, Ready or Not, which received
critical acclaim and contained a top five hit single with “Midnight Blue”. This was
followed by the late-1987 Foreigner album Inside Information, which reached
number 15 on Billboard’s album chart. The extracted “Say You Will” was released
late that year, reaching number 6 on the Hot 100 early in 1988, and “I Don’t Want
to Live Without You” followed, reaching number 5 on the Hot 100 and number
one on the adult contemporary chart in the spring. A third single, “Heart Turns to
Stone” reached number 56 in the summer. Eventually a second solo effort, Long
Hard Look, that included the top ten hit, “Just Between You and Me”, and “True
Blue Love”, reached the Top 40. Gramm also contributed a song to the
soundtrack for the 1987 movie The Lost Boys, titled “Lost in the Shadows.”
Encouraged by his solo success, Gramm left the group in 1990 to form Shadow
King with close friend and former Black Sheep bassist Bruce Turgon. The new
group’s 1991 self-titled album was released by Atlantic Records. Despite positive
reviews, the group lacked cohesiveness. It also did not enjoy the level of
marketing and promotional support necessary to sustain a new project. Shadow
King soon disbanded. The same year, Foreigner released the album Unusual
Heat, a relatively unsuccessful effort fronted by vocalist Johnny Edwards.
Gramm returned to the group in 1992 to record three new songs for the
compilation, The Very Best of … and Beyond, bringing a new energy back into
the mix. Gramm also brought Bruce Turgon with him to join the Foreigner lineup
at this point.

In 1992, Gramm became a Born Again Christian “after being tired of the rock ‘n’
roll life and not feeling very fulfilled…I was falling prey to some of the bad habits
that can go along with that, and I just decided that my own willpower and
strength was not enough, and [being raised a Catholic Christian], I knew
the answer was something deeper for a long time.”

In 1995, Foreigner released the album Mr. Moonlight on the Rhythm Safari
label which, although relatively successful in Europe, was not as widely marketed
or distributed in the U.S. Still, “Until the End of Time” made inroads at adult
contemporary radio. With the changing trends in popular music, this now-classic
rock band came to suffer the inevitable slowing of their genre’s momentum.
In 1996, Mick Jones invited Gramm to perform backing vocals on a cover version
of “I Want to Know What Love Is” he was producing for the Australian singer Tina
Arena. The song went on to become a major hit again throughout Europe.
In April 1997, two months after providing vocals for Christian rock band Petra’s
Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus, and on the eve the band was to leave for a
Japan tour, Gramm was diagnosed with a type of brain tumor called a
craniopharyngioma. Although the tumor was benign, the resulting surgery
damaged his pituitary gland. In addition, the recovery program had caused
Gramm to gain weight, and likewise affected his stamina and voice. He continued
to work with Jones throughout his illness and in 1999, Gramm was back touring
with Foreigner playing summer festivals and smaller markets.

2000s to present

Gradually, Gramm’s health and energy have rebounded. Gramm left Foreigner
again in 2003, and has been touring the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (as well as
performing occasional dates off the continent) steadily since January 2004. As of
2013, Lou Gramm continues to tour with his band, performing many of his old
Foreigner hits. In May 2013, Triumph Books released Gramm’s autobiography
Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock ‘n’ Roll.





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