FOREIGNER are a British-American rock band formed in New York City in 1976 by veteran English musicians Mick Jones, ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald, and American vocalist Lou Gramm (Louis Grammatico). Foreigner has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide (including over 37.5 million in the United States alone).
The band is led by English 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 in NYC and formed Foreigner with Lou Gramm (ex-Black Sheep), 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 English, while Gramm, Greenwood, and Gagliardi were Americans. The band's debut album Foreigner was released in March 1977 and sold more than four million copies in the United States, staying in the Top 20 for a year with such hits as "Feels Like the First Time," "Cold as Ice" and "Long Long Way From Home." Their second album, Double Vision (released in June 1978), topped their previous, selling five million records and spawned "Hot Blooded," the title track "Double Vision" and "Blue Morning Blue Day." Their third album, Head Games, which was referred to by Gramm as their "grainiest" album, was also successful due to the thunderous "Dirty White Boy" and another title track hit "Head Games." For 1979's Head Games, bassist Ed Gagliardi was replaced by Englishman Rick Wills. In September 1980, keyboardist Al Greenwood and co-founder Ian McDonald were sacked as Jones wished to have more control over the band and write most of the music (along with Gramm). The band was now stripped down to a quartet, with session players brought in as needed to record or tour (see below for complete list of members). Greenwood soon joined Gagliardi to form the AOR band SPYS with John Blanco, Billy Milne, and John DiGaudio. The band released two albums, a self-titled debut, and the follow-up Behind Enemy Lines. In the meantime, Foreigner's next album, 4 (released in July 1981), was the band's biggest hit containing "Urgent" (which includes a Junior Walker sax solo), "Waiting for a Girl Like You," "Juke Box Hero" and "Break it Up." Before releasing albums of his own, Thomas Dolby played synthesizers on 4 (he contributed the signature synth sound on "Urgent" and played the intro to "Waiting For A Girl Like You").  For their 1981-82 tour in support of 4, the group added Peter Reilich (keyboards, synthesizers), former Peter Frampton band member Bob Mayo (keyboards, synthesizers, guitar, backing vocals) and Mark Rivera (sax, flute, keyboards, synthesizers, guitar, backing vocals). Mayo and Rivera had also appeared on the sessions for 4. Reilich was dropped in May 1982 but Mayo and Rivera continued with the band through 1988.
Their next album, Agent Provocateur, was released successfully in late 1984, and gave them their first and only No. 1 hit in 1985 (in U.S., UK, Australia, Norway, Sweden, etc.), "I Want to Know What Love Is," written by Mick Jones, a gospel-inspired ballad backed by the New Jersey Mass Choir. "That Was Yesterday" was the next single from the album in early 1985 and proved to be another sizable hit. In late 1987 Foreigner released Inside Information, spawning hits such as "Say You Will" and "I Don't Want to Live Without You." On May 14, 1988 the band headlined Atlantic Records' 40th anniversary concert, culminating with "I Want to Know What Love Is," in which the likes of Phil Collins, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Roberta Flack and other Atlantic artists joined in, singing in the choir. Later that year, the band went back on the road. But the touring for Inside Information was limited to Europe, Japan and Australia. For this tour, Mark Rivera and Bob Mayo were not available, so Larry Oakes (guitar, keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals) and Lou Cortlezzi (sax) augmented the quartet of Gramm, Jones, Elliott and Wills.