An English rose in Georgia: waiting so long for a foreigner


Slowly, we seem to be returning to some sort of normalcy – even if it involves booster shots, masks, and a lot of public debate on both. However, more exciting, I have news from rock and roll. Many big-name bands are currently avoiding international tours and big venues for understandable reasons, perhaps making cities like Savannah more attractive to concert promoters right now than before the pandemic. So last week my husband and I decided to dance to the Johnny Mercer Civic Center to see Foreigner on the Savannah leg of their American tour.

It was exciting to be back to a live concert!

We rocked on Cold As Ice and Juke Box Hero and calmed down on Waiting For A Girl Like You and I Want To Know What Love is.

I love 80s music, especially classic rock, and I admit I’m quite obsessed with this narrow genre of music. Unusually, I will dance and sing at the same time, knowing almost all the lyrics to the top ten hits of this era. I love this little slice of musical history, and my family knows not to challenge me on facts and anecdotes about classic rock bands and hits from the 1980s. This is of course provided that the group was important in the United Kingdom, which was not the case with certain large American groups.

Foreigner definitely rings my rock and roll bell as they topped the UK and US charts from the late 70s to the mid 80s. Foreigner is, in my humble opinion, a prime example of the best of British and American talent combined. They were formed in New York and London in 1976 by six veteran musicians from Spooky Tooth, King Crimson and Flash, among others. English musicians Mick Jones, Dennis Elliot and Ian McDonald have joined American singer Lou Gramm and musicians Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi. They were originally called “Trigger”, but finding out that this name was already taken, Jones came up with the name “Foreigner” because it doesn’t matter whether they are in the US or UK, three d ‘between them would always be strangers.

Their first album “Foreigner” was released in 1977, followed by “Double Vision” (1978), “Head Games” (1979) and “Foreigner 4” (1981). All four have achieved “5X Platinum” status, and the group has sold over 80 million records worldwide, with nine top ten and sixteen top thirty in the US – the same as Fleetwood Mac and more than Journey. “Foreigner 4” was their biggest hit and is widely regarded as one of rock’s all-time greats.

Despite the thirty or so songs that almost everyone of my generation knows by heart on both sides of the Atlantic, “I Want To Know What Love Is” was Foreigner’s only number one hit on the Billboard charts in January 1985. Du fifth from the group’s album “Agent Provocateur”, the song is a classic melody with wonderful guitar and keyboard playing, and also on the soundtrack of the movie “Mr. Tort”.

After a string of massive successes, the band began to split up in 1985, a few months after the release of ‘Agent Provocateur’. Mick Jones reformed the band in 1990 and they released a new album. Soon after, Lou Gramm returned and joined the band on vocals. Despite ups and downs and health issues, the group remained together until 2002, when they broke up again.

In 2005, the tenacious Mick Jones reunited it and is currently, at the age of 76, the only original member. This sometimes leads to accusations from some that Foreigner today looks more like a tribute band than the ‘real thing’. However, I can personally report that Kelly Hansen, lead singer since 2005, had a great voice last week. Anyone at the Civic Center would have had a hard time telling the difference from the original lineup.

There is much more information on the official website of the group

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Mick Jones himself, who in my book is THE hero of the Juke Box – “My initial musical vision for Foreigner was to combine blues and R&B with British rock and make it moving and authentic. I grew up in England and had 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 convey this musical mixture. Well done, Mick…. you did it!

God Bless America and classic 80s rock!

Lesley grew up in London, England and made her home in Georgia in 2009. She can be reached at [email protected] or through her public relations and marketing agency at


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