LOU GRAMM Says There Is Still 'A Hatchet To Be Buried' Between Him And MICK JONES: 'I Was Not Treated The Way I Thought I Should Be Treated'

February 17, 2024

In a brand new interview with Kiki Classic Rock, original FOREIGNER frontman Lou Gramm was asked what is going to be on his mind when he sees FOREIGNER founder Mick Jones again for the band's hypothetical Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction. The 73-year-old singer, who got a call earlier in the month informing him that FOREIGNER, which he helmed during its most productive years, is a nominee for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's Class Of 2024, responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, I know that the Rock Hall has a lot to do with the songs we wrote together and, of course, the band's performance and the hard work we put in to making them popular.

"I still don't feel totally right with Mick," Lou admitted. "There's a hatchet to be buried, and it's still right between us. And if we could do that, that would be great, but it'll be just fine even if the hatchet's not buried. Sometimes these things never resolve.

"I don't dislike the guy — I like the guy — but I was not treated the way I thought I should be treated," Gramm explained. "And that's not to say I'm a prima donna or anything. I just did not get my worth in particular songs to the point where not only my songwriting contributions, but my vocal contributions count as nothing. And there's more than one song that that's happened to… I'm not even gonna mention [what the other tracks are, besides FOREIGNER's smash hit 'I Want To Know What Love Is']. Honest to God, I don't wanna mention [them]. But there's a few.

"It used to be when we first got together, almost everything we wrote was a 50-50 split or a 60-40 split, with Mick getting 60 and I'm getting 40," Mick said. "And I would think about it and I would say to myself, 'Yeah, he does deserve the 60.' But then for something like 'I Want To Know What Love Is' that he says the split is 95-5. And I was just stunned. And I didn't know where that was coming from other than greed. And it ended up being 100 percent for him and nothing for me. On a song like that, that was Number One around the world three times after we recorded it. And I think the ASCAP and the publishing, they were just dumping truckfuls of money over his house. And I didn't see any of it, nor was my name on the sheet music or the single or whatever. I worked my ass off with him on that song for months and months and months. We almost had it, but we couldn't crack it. It was never quite finished. And there were times when we were ready to just give up on it, but we didn't. And we put in the long hours trying to complete that song, and when we finally completed it, it was such a load off our shoulders and felt very resolute about it. And we knew we had something good here. And I'm saying 'we' — but apparently it's not 'we'."

When the interviewer suggested that it might be a good idea for Gramm and Jones to have dinner together a day prior to the hypothetical Rock Hall induction and for Lou to get a chance to voice his grievances in person, Gramm replied: "You know what? That's a good idea, but I don't think it's the right time for that. I think if that conversation ended up exploding into flames before we were supposed to accept our award, that would be a real tragedy."

Lou then circled back to "I Want To Know What Love Is" and the fact that he felt that he wasn't properly credited for his contributions to the song. "I almost felt like… I hear stories about songwriters and performers who work with other songwriters and performers, and one out of the two of them have had a lot more experience and they come on with the idea that it's gonna be very fair between them and then the less experienced one gets screwed," he said. "And it's a sickening feeling to know that your songwriting partner and your bandmate for many years has just let you know that you're not important… I'm just saying the sick tragedy of the way this is ending is… It's too bad it had to be like that, but it is like that. I cannot say, 'Oh, it's okay, Mick,' knowing that he's made probably 25 or 30 million off of that song, maybe more. And even if I got 25 percent of it, it would have been monumental to me. But at five percent, I couldn't be shamed like that. I definitely was worth much more than five percent.

"We worked for weeks and weeks and weeks on that song," Lou continued. "I mean, we hit dead ends where we were ready to pack that song in and maybe it would be on the next album if we could finish it. But then we'd come back again and work a little harder, make a little headway on it. And when we finished it, we had a celebration, just he and I, that we finally got ahold of that thing and made it into a potentially great song.

"What we used to do was take little Post-it notes at the end of the album and write down what we thought our percentages of the songwriting for that particular song should be. And we'd been doing that for years. And we never had any problems. Maybe it was 10 percent one way or the other that one of us thought was off, and we'd compromise and it would be over in two minutes. But with that song, I could tell just from his first offer, which was 80-20, that he wanted it all. And I told him, I says, 'Mick,' I says, 'We both worked our asses off.' I said, 'I was right there next to you.' I says, 'I was contributing. I had contributions in that song.' I says, 'You're minimalizing me right out the door,' I says, 'and I resent it.'"

"The thing that galls me is in interviews after that, they would ask him, 'What inspired you, Mick, to write that song?' And he would go into this long, long dialogue about writing the song himself."

To be eligible for this year's ballot, each nominee's first single or album had to have been released in 1999 or earlier.

Eligible since 2002, FOREIGNER has had a huge number of rock hits, including "Cold As Ice", "Double Vision", "Hot Blooded", the aforementioned "I Want To Know What Love Is", "Juke Box Hero" and "Urgent", and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards, with no wins.

According to the Hall Of Fame, the FOREIGNER members that would get inducted include only the classic-era musicians Mick Jones, Lou Gramm, Dennis Elliott, Ed Gagliardi, Al Greenwood, Ian McDonald and Rick Wills.

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".

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.

FOREIGNER replaced Gramm with Kelly Hansen in 2005. Jones, the only remaining original member of FOREIGNER, suffered from some health issues beginning in 2011, eventually resulting in heart surgery in 2012.

Gramm and Jones's June 2013 performance of "I Want To Know What Love Is" and "Juke Box Hero" at the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in New York City marked the first time the pair performed together in a decade after Gramm left FOREIGNER for a second time. Hansen has fronted the group for the past 19 years.

In July 2017, FOREIGNER reunited with Gramm, Greenwood and McDonald during a concert at Jones Beach, New York. Gramm sang lead with the band for the first time in 14 years, while multi-instrumentalist McDonald and keyboardist Greenwood, both founding members of FOREIGNER, had not performed with the group since 1980.

FOREIGNER's October 2017 reunion shows — featuring Jones, Gramm, McDonald, Elliott and Wills — performing all together for the first time since the early '80s, as part of the group's 40th-anniversary celebration were filmed and were released as the "Double Vision: Then And Now" CD and DVD in 2019.

Back in 2019, Gramm and Jones took part in a joint interview with Dan Rather's AXS show "The Big Interview", discussing everything from their multiplatinum-selling success to personal difficulties (including battling serious health issues) to lighthearted moments, like the time the band inadvertently left Jones behind at a 7-Eleven outside Kansas City while on tour.

Photo credit: Karsten Staiger (courtesy of Vanessa Menkes Communications)

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