FOREIGNER's JEFF PILSON Offers Update On MICK JONES's Health, Says It 'Feels Like The Right Time' To End The Band

February 25, 2023

Jeff Pilson says that he doesn't know how many of the concerts on FOREIGNER's upcoming farewell tour will feature guitarist Mick Jones.

The only remaining original member of FOREIGNER, Jones suffered from some health issues beginning in 2011, eventually resulting in heart surgery in 2012. Ever since, it is never announced whether he will be appearing with the band for specific shows — it just depends how he is feeling.

In a new interview with Kiki Classic Rock, Pilson was asked for an update on Mick's health. Jeff said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "He's great. He'll do some shows here and there. It's impossible to predict the regularity of it, but, yeah, he'll come in. And he's doing great. He's happy, he's healthy. He's excited about the fact that the band is kind of writing its last chapter as we speak, or at least its last live chapter. I think, to be honest with you, it hasn't all quite hit him yet, if you wanna know the perfect honest truth. I think in some ways it's just kind of catching up to him what this really means. 'Cause think about it — that's been his entire life. FOREIGNER is his baby; it's his vision; it's his breath.

"I think for Mick this is gonna be a very interesting couple of years," Pilson continued. "There are probably gonna be some deeply emotional moments. And all of it, to him, is really significant. And, like I say, I bet he's only scratched the surface of having it really made its impression yet."

When the interviewer noted that FOREIGNER's final tour will coincide with Mick's retirement from touring, Jeff said: "It kind of makes it a nice, tidy way of wrapping it up, actually. 'Cause we did get to honor the original band with the release of the 2017 record that we did with them; I guess it came out in 2018, but we recorded it in 2017 — with that live 40th-anniversary record. And then now we're getting to kind of put the bow on this version of the band."

Pilson then clarified that Jones is not necessarily against the idea of touring without him. "I don't even think that's something he opposes as much as it just feels like the right time," Jeff explained. "And I think he feels like, 'Let's go out while we're still on top. Kelly's [Hansen] still singing like a million bucks. Everybody's performing at their best.' And I think — well, I know — that the objective here is to go out on a high note, which not all bands do. I'm sure there's a lot of bands that they simply need the money, so I can't begrudge them for doing that. But because we're in a position where we don't have to worry about that, we're gonna go out on a high note and make sure that this legacy is preserved with all the respect and integrity that it deserves."

FOREIGNER's farewell tour is set to launch on July 6 at Atlanta's Ameris Bank Amphitheatre. For the first leg of the U.S. Live Nation-produced tour, FOREIGNER will be joined by LOVERBOY.

Earlier this month, Hansen told the 96.1 KLPX radio station about what led to FOREIGNER's decision to stage what is being billed as the band's last-ever run of shows: "One of my things that was important to me is that I not be out there doing these songs that I shouldn't really be doing anymore 'cause I can't do them anymore. I wanna do these songs justice and deliver them strong and vibrant and then quit while we're ahead like that. I've seen far too many people who are — for probably many different reasons — still out there when maybe they shouldn't be. And I guess everyone has their own view of their vanity, whether it's visually or instrumentally or vocally, and I think that we're really at a peak right now. It's getting harder and harder to do this really difficult, challenging but wonderful catalog of songs every year, and I just wanna do them right. And I don't wanna start having to do less of them right."

Hansen previously discussed FOREIGNER's farewell tour last month in an interview with Rob Rush Radio. Asked if this is indeed FOREIGNER's last-ever trek, Hansen said: "Our plan is to do this into 2024. I've been asked many times by many different people to continue doing this. And, really, for me, it's a matter of being able to perform these songs at the level they deserve and that the fans deserve, and I cannot allow myself to do less than that, just as a human being.

"It's gotten tougher and tougher every year to sing this great catalog of songs," he admitted. "And it maybe sounds like I'm whining. I'm not trying to whine; I'm really fortunate to be able to have done this and do this with the band. It's just I don't wanna sacrifice the quality of these songs and the performance of these songs. So I think it's better to say, 'You know what? I'm gonna leave here strong and let the memory of this live thing be strong as well."

When FOREIGNER's final tour was first announced last November, Mick said: "Many years ago, I wrote a song called 'Feels Like The First Time', and today we are launching one last worldwide tour. We will be presenting a show that I know will have the same enthusiasm as our very first appearances. The tour will start this summer in America and we hope to get to every place that we have played over the last several years. While I'm sure our fans will have mixed feelings about the end of the road for the band, I know our shows are going to delight audiences everywhere."

Joining Jones, Pilson and Hansen in FOREIGNER's current lineup are Michael Bluestein on keyboards, guitarist Bruce Watson, Chris Frazier on drums and guitarist Luis Maldonado.

After singer Lou Gramm left FOREIGNER in 2003, Jones took some time off before regrouping a couple years later with an entirely new lineup, featuring Hansen and Pilson, among others.

In 2018, Gramm revealed that he was retiring from touring as a solo artist. The vocalist made the announcement just months after he participated in FOREIGNER's "Double Vision: Then And Now" concerts, which featured current and original members of the band, including Jones, drummer Dennis Elliott, keyboardist Al Greenwood, bassist Rick Wills and guitarist/saxophonist Ian McDonald.

Gramm was the voice on FOREIGNER's biggest hits, including "Feels Like The First Time" and "Cold As Ice" from the band's eponymous debut in 1977, and later songs like "Hot Blooded" and "I Want To Know What Love Is".

Photo credit: Karsten Staiger

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