Foreigner will kick off a 40th anniversary tour this summer, and the group’s founder Mick Jones promises it will include several familiar faces. The iconic ’70s rock band will hit the road on July 11 for a series of shows that will include former members Lou Gramm, Ian McDonald, and Al Greenwood, but with a caveat that the famed original members will only appear on the bill on select dates.
“They’re not on the whole tour, but there will be some appearances,” Jones told Billboard of the former Foreigner members. “It’s the right time to do this. I’m looking forward to that and we’ll see how it goes, and I’m sure it’ll go down well.”
Early buzz surrounding Foreigner’s 40th anniversary tour had some fans wondering if original lead singer Lou Gramm would indeed be returning. Gramm was the lead singer of Foreigner from 1976 to 2003, with the exception of a two-year break in the early 1990s, while McDonald and Greenwood played with Foreigner during the band’s chart-topping years from 1976 to 1980.
Gramm originally denied rumors that he had been invited to reunite with his former bandmates, but in a series of social media posts after the reunion announcement, he confirmed his status on the tour.
“After 24 hours of some crossed wires and miscommunication, I can confirm that I and the rest of the original band have been invited to join Foreigner for a song or two at any show during this 40th anniversary year,” Gramm tweeted to fans.
After crossed wires & miscommunication, I can confirm that I and the original band have been invited 2 join Foreigner for a song or two.— Lou Gramm (@GrammLou) January 10, 2017
Dennis Elliot and Rick Wills will be in St Augustin, FL on 2/24. Ian McDonald, Al Greenwood & I will perform at date yet 2 be determined— Lou Gramm (@GrammLou) January 10, 2017
With Lou Gramm on board for at least a few songs, Jones told Billboard he never imagined that the group he first formed in 1976 would still be relevant 40 years later.
“I think it’s fitting at this point that we do this,” Jones said of Foreigner’s anniversary tour.
“I’m very proud of everything we’ve done and what we’ve achieved, and of how the new band [lineup] has fought back for me and for the heritage of Foreigner. It’s kind of the way I always dreamed that Foreigner would appear as a very exciting live band and everything that goes along with it. It’s really been very inspiring for me.”
Foreigner’s opening acts will be longtime pals Cheap Trick, who toured with them in 1978, and former Foreigner drummer Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.
Foreigner still has a loyal fan following despite the fact that the group has never been popular among music critics. The radio-friendly rockers produced more than a dozen Top 20 hits and six consecutive multi-platinum albums during their late ’70s/early ’80s heyday, hitting it big with the No. 1 single “I Want to Know What Love Is” in 1984.
But Lou Gramm had a somewhat contentious relationship with Jones, and at the height of their estrangement, the two rockers didn’t speak for more than a decade until they were both accepted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013, and they exchanged congratulations’ on the phone.
“It was the first time we had spoken in over a dozen years,” the longtime Foreigner singer told Fox 411.
“It wasn’t always that way. It did eventually end up that way. It happens with a lot of very creative people. They want to do everything and they want everything their way. I think they can collaborate with someone up to a point but the big picture has got to have their stamp of approval on everything, being on the other end of it, the guy who co-writes, it’s very tough, to have a few ideas accepted and everything else rejected for no apparent reason other than their pride.”
After Lou Gramm hung up his mic, singer Kelly Hansen took over as Foreigner’s frontman in 2005, leaving Mick as the only remaining founding member in the band’s current lineup.
Foreigner will be all over the place in 2017. In addition to the 37 40th anniversary shows that will take from July 11 to Sept. 9, the group will play a series of U.S. dates starting Jan. 30, and they will embark on a European trek beginning May 20 in Switzerland. Foreigner will also release a two-disc compilation album that will include new music, while Jones will publish a photo-filled memoir titled A Foreigner’s Tale.
Check out the video below to hear Lou Gramm singing one of Foreigner’s biggest hits.
[Featured Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)