If you have listened to FM radio at any time during the past 30 years, you know who Foreigner is.
You may not be able to pick out the band members in a crowd, as only one – founder, guitarist, and chief songwriter Mick Jones remains from the band’s formation in 1976 – but you know the tunes.
Hits such as “Feels Like the First Time”, “Double Vision”, “Cold as Ice”, “Jukebox Hero” and “I Want to Know What Love Is” have been staples of album-oriented rock format stations for decades. Over that time the band has released 10 multi-platinum albums, sold more than 75 million albums and produced 16 top-30 singles.
And on Sept. 5 at the White River Amphitheatre, the band will showcase its hits as the support band for Kid Rock’s Cheap Date Tour.
“(The songs) still sound good, I like them all,” said Tom Gimbel, the band’s multi-instrumental secret weapon on saxophone and guitar. “Every song we play I still adore. The quality is in the song writing itself, but Mick was also very wise when he recorded the albums. They’re not overbearing. When he plays the guitar he’s not blazing… he’s playing very tastefully.”
“He’s closer to a Jeff Beck than a Jimmy Page. I think that in itself helps. Mick is such a genius musician and songwriter, he’s in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. We’re talking about a real gift, but that also extends into his guitar playing. He’s a master craftsman of those guitar parts.”
In addition to Jones’ knack for crafting the band’s music, Gimbel said, Jones is altruistic by nature, a fact that shines through live when ever the band performs, “I Want To Know What Love Is.”
On each stop of the tour the band selects a high school choir to sing the choir parts of the 1984 hit on stage with the band. Foreigner donates $500 to the choir – in this case from the Muckleshoot Tribal School – and allows choir members to sell Foreigner CDs at the show. Proceeds go to The Grammy Foundation, which donates money for music education in schools.
“We’re just happy to be able to help out some of the schools that are just having their music budgets chopped,” Gimbel said. “We were feeling bad about that and wanted to do something. And Mick came up with the idea.”
Gimbel, a graduate of the prestigious Berklee School of Music, said the cause is close to his heart.
“[Music education] was huge for me,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I looked forward to going to school. I was a bad kid, so if it wasn’t for music, I probably would have been cutting class.”
Tickets for shows on the Cheap Date tour are just $20 plus a service charge for everything in the venue except the first two-rows. Additionally, the shows feature $4 beers and food specials.
So far, Gimbel said, the shows have been a mix of Kid Rock fans and a smattering of Foreigner die hards.
“It’s a nice combination of 20-year-olds all the way on up to our contemporaries,” he said. “It’s a great combination of age groups that you see this music spanning across. And people that love Kid Rock and don’t really remember Foreigner come out and go ‘oh yeah, I remember all these songs’. There is really a nice benefit to having had these songs played on the radio since they were born. We’re always kidding Mick Jones about having too many hits. What a problem to have. We can’t play them all, there are so many.”