WASHINGTON August, 6, 2013 – Lou Gramm, ex-front man/ singer/songwriter for Foreigner and author of Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock and Roll was kind enough to let Washington Times Communities Digital News interview him as he currently tours the USA and Canada.
Speaking with Gramm was a lesson in believing that heralded celebrities are always difficult people. That’s because Gramm was nothing short of polite, personable, thoughtful, funny, understanding, upfront, honest and very well spoken. It was easy to see this man has interviewed many times before, handles himself professionally and is at ease with people.
Gramm has a most storied past with Foreigner, writing and singing such hits as Juke Box Hero, Cold as Ice, Double Vision, feels Like the First Time, Hot Blooded, Urgent, Waiting for a Girl Like You, Blue Morning, Blue Day, Long, Long Way from Home then going on his own to write and sing Midnight Blue, Ready or Not, Just Between You and Me, True Blue Love, Angel with a Dirty Face and many Christian rock songs.
Gramm was diagnosed with a deadly brain cancer and was told to “Get your house in order” 16 years ago. But then he chanced to glimpse a surgeon on a talk show who suggested he had developed procedures that would benefit those with issues like Gramm’s.
Gramm had surgery and almost died. In the confusing mix of this trauma as well as his decision to stop abusing drugs and alcohol, Gramm turned to his Savior, Jesus Christ and began a completely new life. He now tours with his brother Ben and others, performing tunes from Foreigner as well as his own material.
Foreigner was one of the rare groups that segued from the ‘70s to the ‘80s while still retaining its super group success. Gramm is still Hot Blooded some decades later. His voice, over the years, has become so ubiquitous and such a significant part of this author’s young to middle adult years, that Gramm likely had a hard time getting a word in edgewise and overcoming the enthusiasm he was greeted with during this interview. Fortunately, he did have the chance to answer a few questions:
Paul Mountjoy: How are you feeling?
Lou Gramm: Great! I feel very good.
PM: I think you would rather talk about the present and future and are probably tired of discussing Foreigner?
LG: Oh no, not at all. I am very proud of Foreigner and what we did.
PM: You should be, that’s for certain. You have recently done 78 concerts and have 12 more scheduled, right?
LG: Yes. We have 12 and more bookings are coming in.
PM: I notice you spread your tour dates apart. Is this because you need rest in-between dates?
LG: I do need to rest, yes, but the biggest reason is to spend time with my wife and children. I like to spend the week days with them and we only go out on weekends.
PM: Did Midnight Blue give you the confidence to keep on as an individual act?
LG: Funny story here. My partner in writing with Foreigner was Mick Jones. I presented Midnight Blue to him and he thought it was not good so we didn’t record it. I would like to have seen his face when he learned it became a number one hit after I left.
PM: You seem a man who never lost sight of his roots.
LG: I‘d like to think I haven’t.
PM: Your song Willing to Forgive is, it seems, your surprise or relief to know you are forgiven by our Lord?
LG: More relieved, I think.
PM: In the secular world, do you think you are forgiven for any transgressions you may have made?
LG: Yes, I do think so by those who are with me, but I can’t help it if I am not by those who I am not in contact with or I don’t know.
PM: The song Baptized by Fire, does that describe you? Do you think you were baptized by fire?
LG: Fire, red hot steel, and anything else that’s hot.
PM: You were recently inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame?
LG: Yes! It was amazing but you know, they don’t even show that on TV!
PM: That is an oxymoron. Whose lousy idea is this? One of the most important, star studded events of the years and not on TV?
Gramm laughed at this, revealing a healthy sense of humor. Yet the obvious highlight of the entire non-televised affair was when he and Mick Jones reunited for Juke Box Hero and I Wanna Know What Love Is. They stole the show and received an obviously heartfelt standing ovation from their peers within the industry.
It proved a moving experience to see a man who has endured so much, stand and deliver with the gusto and effort he always gives in a performance. Some in the audience had tears in their eyes.
PM: Elton John exclaimed the Songwriters Hall of Fame is superior to the Grammy Awards because writing is where the process starts. Do you agree with him?
LG: Yes I do because it is where it all begins.
PM: You know, cover band singers cringe when they hear a request for one of your songs because their vocals have to go so far ‘upstairs’ and most cannot do that.
LG: I try to take it easy on them (chuckles).
PM: So now, are you happy at this stage in life?
LG: I am very happy, happier than ever. I have a wonderful wife and four wonderful children at home.
PM: Thank you so much for your time Lou and I hope you participate in our Health and Religion sections in the near future to cover other parts of your life.
LG: It was my pleasure and I most certainly will, yes.
Wrapping up the interview, one sensed an open, honest family man who is comfortable in his skin. Lou was wrong about one thing, however: It was my pleasure.
Lou Gramm’s book Jukebox Hero: My Five Decades in Rock and Roll is a great read. It is available at Amazon Books and his own website: www.lou-gramm.com
Lou Gramm Tour Dates and Locales:
For those who wish to see and hear unsurpassed, superb rock as it was meant to be heard, tickets to Lou’s upcoming concerts are available via Ticketmaster, Stub hub, Lou’s website and other locations. Here’s a list of remaining tour dates, venues, and locations:
09: Navan Fair 2013, Navan, Canada
10: John Burns Park, Massapequa, New York
17: Weir Rockin’ 13, Upper Sackville, Canada
24: Monroe County Jam, Monroe, Michigan
30: Maryland Live Casino, Hanover, Maryland
31: West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival, Clarksburg, West Virginia
02: Delta Fair & Music Festival, Memphis, Tennessee
28: Corporate Function in Springfield, Illinois
11: Landmark Theatre, Port Washington, New York
Paul Mountjoy is a columnist for Entertainment News and Reviews.
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