LOU GRAMM On His Upcoming Retirement: 'You've Gotta Be Smart Enough To See When It's Time To Stop'

April 8, 2024

In a new interview with Backstage Pass, original FOREIGNER singer Lou Gramm spoke about his decision to retire after his 2024 tour dates. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I've put in a number of decades, and while it's been fun, you've gotta be smart enough to see when it's time to stop. For me, I think traveling is such a hassle these days. We don't do show after show. We do one or two shows a week. So we fly. And I don't have to tell you what flying these days is like — all the hangups at the airports, and you book a seat and you get on the plane and they've switched your seat. No accountability. They kind of just — when they say they rule the skies, they mean inside the plane and outside."

Regarding the setlist for his solo shows, Gramm said: "It's a good blend of songs from my two [solo] albums and the SHADOW KING album as well, and some of the big hits, some of the things I've been involved in writing with Mick [Jones, FOREIGNER founder and guitarist]. We do a bunch of FOREIGNER songs too. And I've gotta tell you that between the two musics, it brings the house down."

Asked if he has had to change the key for certain songs in his catalog in order to accommodate his aging voice, Lou said: "I brought the songs down a half a step about 15 years ago, and I have no problem hitting it… I'm in fantastic vocal shape, and my health is as good as it's been in a number of years."

Gramm also talked about the new studio album he is planning to release this year. He said: "Well, it's gonna be a number of new songs. Some of the songs were from — when you record an album, usually there's 10 songs on the album, but you usually record 13 or 14 and choose either the best 10 or the 10 that are finished. And so I'd been doing that for my two solo albums and the SHADOW KING album, but there are always two or three songs that were really good ideas just without the time to finish them. So I went back and I dug up those ideas, and there's about three or four of them that I finished that are gonna be on this album."

On the topic of the songwriting process for his new songs, Gramm said: "Well, I've been writing with a few other people, but I've been writing myself too. And there's a good selection of brand new, unheard-of-by-the-human-ear songs. And it's been a fun album to put together. I didn't do it with any time schedule in mind, so it's taken a little over two years. But I got it the way I want it, and I'm pleased with the material and the performances. So that's worth waiting for, I think."

According to Lou, the first single from the upcoming album will "possibly" arrive in July, with the full album set to follow "maybe by October".

As for the musicians who were involved in the recording process, Gramm said: "I've got my live band that's with me, the ALL STARS, who is Jeff Jacobs, who used to play with FOREIGNER, on keyboards, my brother Ben [Gramm] on drums, Scott Gilman on rhythm, guitar, and sax. He also played with FOREIGNER. [And we also have] Tony Franklin on bass and Alex Garcia on guitar."

Gramm previously addressed his retirement plans while speaking to Lee Richey. He said: "I've been doing it — Jeez — for almost 50 years, and I would like to turn my attention to my family and my muscle cars and just enjoy myself knowing that when I lay down at night, it'll be in my own bed."

He added: "This is gonna be it. I've been putting it off and putting it off. And I still enjoy performing, but when you've been doing it for as long as I have — the travel is the worst. It really takes its toll. And that's a sign that you're getting old."

Back in December 2018, Gramm announced that he was retiring from performing as a solo artist. But he later clarified that he wasn't completely walking away from performing live.

SHADOW KING was a collaboration between Gramm and current DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell. The group released a self-titled album in 1991 and performed live only once, at the Astoria Theatre in London, England on December 13, 1991.

By the time Gramm left FOREIGNER for the first time in 1990, he had already released two successful solo albums: the aforementioned "Ready Or Not" and "Long Hard Look". He went on to launch LOU GRAMM BAND, which released an all-Christian rock album in 2009. He followed it up with "My Baby" in 2015.

The now-73-year-old Gramm left FOREIGNER for good in 2002 and has battled health issues in recent years, including the removal of a non-cancerous tumor. He told the Democrat & Chronicle in 2018 that he was planning to retire, but still reunited with FOREIGNER for several shows that year to celebrate the band's 40th anniversary.

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".

FOREIGNER replaced Gramm with Kelly Hansen in 2005. Guitarist Mick Jones, the only remaining original member, suffered from some health issues beginning in 2011, eventually resulting in heart surgery in 2012. More recently, Jones revealed that he has been battling Parkinson's disease.

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