Lou Gramm Says Mick Jones’ Publishing Greed Signalled The End Of Foreigner
Lou Gramm claims that it was Foreigner co-founder Mick Jones‘ greed in regard to publishing revenue that led to the pair’s eventual split. Over the years, Gramm and Jones co-wrote such signature Foreigner hits as “Hot Blooded,” “Double Vision,” “Blue Morning, Blue Day,” “Head Games,” “Dirty White Boy,” “Juke Box Hero,” “Say You Will,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” among others.
Blabbermouth transcribed some of Gramm’s powerful chat with The Sessions, in which he explained that the credit for the band’s one-and-only Number One hit — “I Want To Know What Love Is” — led to the schism between the two bandmates: “(Mick’s home) home was about 15 minutes from my home. So I would drive over to his house and we would work on that song. . . I felt we had worked our tails off to make that song what it is. And at the end of (1984’s Agent Provocateur), when it was time to decide what the percentages (for the songs) were, I wrote down what I thought it should be and he wrote down what he thought it should be. I think I wrote down 65-35 (percent) — 35 for me, 65 for him. And I opened the little piece of paper that (contained his note on) what he thought (the correct split) was, and he wrote down 95-5. I was so stunned and crushed that he’d think I contributed next to nothing to that song.”
Gramm went on to say, “Here’s another (detail) for you. (Mick) was working with a choir in one studio while we were recording that song. I was in another studio with an engineer singing the lead vocals. I did them by myself — I did all the ad-libs, I did all the emotional little nuances and stuff. . . I did the whole thing myself while he was working with the choir. And that ended up being the lead vocal. . . I thought that was a pretty serious accomplishment for me, only to be denigrated to (being) an author of five percent. That put a wedge in us that was the beginning of the end.”
Gramm still holds a grudge about how the songwriting credits played out, explaining, “I should get 25 (percent) just for the vocal performance. All I could think of was greed. It was an awesome song. We all knew it was gonna be a smash. This was his chance to step on me. And y’know what I told him after (I saw his proposed split of) 95-5? I said, ‘Five, Mick?’ I said, ‘You should just keep it all.’ And he did. . . He just kept it all. And y’know the millions and millions that that song has brought in? Over the years, it’s been covered by at least three or four artists who have gone to Number One with that song.”
Although Lou Gramm loved singing Foreigner’s mega-platinum ballads like “Waiting For A Girl Like You” — and more specifically, “I Want To Know What Love Is” — he believes that as the ’80s progressed, the success of the band’s softer side made for an uneven picture getting across to radio: “I love the song, but I didn’t like what actually what it was doing to our rock reputation — undermining it, y’know? And then after that came, (sings) ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Without You’ — and that was nails in the coffin, I think.”
Mick Jones shed light on writing rock’s ultimate ’80s power ballad — “I Want To Know What Love Is”: “There was sadness in that song. Y’know, there’s some really, kind of, private, personal pieces of my story in there, let’s say. I’ve always enjoyed playing it; there’s something about the chord patterns — there’s a slightly classical feel to it. It is one of my favorites, so. . . and ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ is representative of the period where it started to go a little weird between Lou (Gramm) and I. But, now, when I look back, y’know, I guess that was yesterday.”